What is hypothyroid and how might you know if it’s affecting you. Dr. Ruscio provides a concise breakdown of the signs and symptoms of hypothyroid. He also provides a basic overview of how your thyroid works.
What Is Hypothyroid?
Dr. Michael Ruscio: Hello. This is Dr. Ruscio, and welcome to series on thyroid solutions
To start us off, let’s review some basic signs and symptoms of hypothyroidism.
The most common symptoms are: Fatigue, weight gain, depression, feeling cold, brain fog, low sex drive, digestive problems, high cholesterol, dry hair, skin or nails, poor memory, and morning headaches.
Understanding hypothyroid symptoms is something that can be very helpful in trying to piece together why it is you’re feeling the way you are. So, let’s look at a few of the symptoms as an example. We can take fatigue, weight gain, feeling cold, and tie those all to one underlying cellular process. Because the role of the thyroid hormone is to speed up cellular function, or cellular metabolism, when you have inadequate levels of thyroid hormone, or you are hypothyroid, that cellular function will decline.
Now, we know that cells take calories from the bloodstream and burn them to produce energy. One of the byproducts of producing energy is also the production of heat. And, if calories aren’t taken into the cell and burned to produce energy and heat, then calories build up in the bloodstream and eventually get stored as fat.
So, here we can see that through the process of cellular substrate, or energy use, we can look at the process of gaining weight, because calories are not being taken into a cell, burned to produce energy and heat, leaving you fatigued, cold, and overweight.
Now, we can also look at something like digestion and constipation, because if your stomach and/or intestinal cells can’t secrete the acid or enzyme needed for proper digestion, you can have constipation or other sorts of digestive problems. And remember, every one of your stomach and intestinal cells needs to be able to produce adequate levels of acids and enzymes to help you break down your food.
Now, we can also look at something like sex drive, accelerated aging, and high cholesterol and lump all those together also. Because the gonads and the adrenals take cholesterol from the bloodstream and from cholesterol to decide testosterone, estrogen, and progesterone, if the rate of cellular function is slowed down, that means that cholesterol will be built up in the bloodstream – because it’s not being taken up by cells and turned into testosterone, estrogen and progesterone. So, what you have there is high cholesterol levels, along with a lowering of testosterone and estrogen, causing accelerated aging and a diminishment of sex drive or sexual function.
And we also see the same thing with things like depression or low moods. Remember, your brain cells also need to have enough cellular energy or cellular metabilism to produce things called neurotransmitters, to give you the ability to think quickly (snaps fingers), to have a good memory, to have good mood. And so, when we see hypothyroidism, we also see depression and poor memory.
So, hopefully this is helpful for you to understand, that the lack of adequate levels of thyroid hormone will cause cellular function to decline. And, depending on what kind of cell that is, will cause different symptoms. If it’s a digestive cell, a digestive symptom; if it’s a brain cell, a brain symptom; if it’s a sex cell, like the gonads, it’ll be a sex symptom.
Moving along then, how common are thyroid problems? Well, it’s estimated that 12 percent of people will have a thyroid problem in their lifetimes. And, even more striking than this, is that 60 percent of those with thyroid disease may be unaware of this condition. And we’ll talk a little bit later about how many people slip underneath the radar because conventional screenings for hypothyroidism are very, very narrow in their scope.
So, just a basic review of thyroid function or physiology – the brain secrets a hormone called TSH. TSH tells the thyroid gland to then spit out a hormone called T4. T4 then must be converted into T3, and this is very important because most lab testing will look at TSH and T4 and will not look at T3. We will talk more about this later, how important this conversion process of T4 to T3 is, because many people have had TSH and T4 tested and told that they are normal, yet there is a problem with T3 that has not been identified.
So, T4 must be converted into T3, and 60 percent of this occurs in the liver, 20 percent in the intestines – another reason why good intestinal health is so important – and then 20 percent is naturally deactivated.
So, that’s a basic purview – We have TSH from the brain, T4 from the thyroid, and then T4 must be converted into T3. Additionally, there are antibodies known as TPO and TG. These two antibodies are used to diagnose Hashimoto’s, which is an inflammatory process which damages the thyroid, and eventually causes hypothyroidism.
Hashimoto’s is the most common cause of hypothyroidism, so this is a very important part of our workup.
And also, a hormone that you don’t hear a lot about called Reverse T3 – this hormone actually blocks thyroid hormone from being able to function properly. So, someone could have normal TSH and T4 – the conventional screening – but have high T3, which is blocking the ability of their normal TSH or T4 or even the ability of their thyroid medication to work properly. So, this is another hidden cause of hypothyroidism that many people are not aware of.
So, in our next video we will be discussing the two general types of hypothyroidism, which are functional and autoimmune. And we will give you some information that will help you to be able to determine which type you are, so you may seek out the appropriate treatment recommendations to help you feel better.
This is Dr. Ruscio, and I hope this is helpful. Thanks.