Thyroid disorders can affect a wide range of physical functions and cause a series of confusion and often misdiagnosis.
Although thyroid disorders are more common in adults, children whose cognitive and physical development depends on normal thyroid function are very important to follow.
In a review article published last year at JAMA Pediatrics, doctors from Children’s Hospital in Philadelphia have urged primary health care doctors to recognize childhood thyroid disease and begin treatment from the second week of their life to ensure normal development
Symptoms of thyroid dysfunction vary considerably from person to person and tend to develop gradually in a way that patients and doctors may not recognize them as a dysfunction that warrants further examination and corresponding treatment.
Hypothyroidism – low levels of hormones – is often not well-diagnosed and its symptoms are similar to those of other diseases or are misinterpreted for “normal” effects of aging.
Increased frequency of the disease
Thyroid disease affects one in five women and one in ten men, while 50% of people with thyroid disease suffer from an undiagnosed disease. Many who are diagnosed are treated poorly with medication.
A vicious circle begins because unrecognized thyroid disease exacerbates insulin resistance and insulin resistance exacerbates thyroid function.
Because the thyroid, a small gland behind the larynx, regulates energy production and metabolism throughout the body, including the heart, brain, skin, intestines and body temperature, its hormones significantly affect health status and thus the well-being of the individual.
Low thyroid function without real thyroid disease is very common, especially as we grow older. Reduced thyroid function after the age of 40 occurs in about a quarter of the population.
Indeed, the risk of hypothyroidism increases with age. 20% of the over 75-year-old individuals, most of whom are women, do not have adequate thyroid hormone levels which, among other problems, may cause symptoms of confusion that are usually confused with senile dementia.
Subclinical hypothyroidism confuses doctors and patients.
Experts believe that between 40% and 60% of people with thyroid disease, do not know they have it. Because this is not an obvious disease, this type of low thyroid function is called Subclinical Hypothyroidism. Symptoms are too slight to be classified as a disease according to the usual medical measurements. However, at the same time, the symptoms are very annoying to allow someone to really feel good.
Symptoms of Subclinical Hypothyroidism include:
Gradual weight gain that is difficult to lose
- Stiffness and difficulty in moving the joints
- Dry skin
- Hair thinning
- Dilution of the last third of the eyebrows
- Light facial swelling
- Mental submissiveness
- Cold hands and feet
- A general feeling of coldness
Many patients with inadequate thyroid function can easily be misdiagnosed with fibromyalgia.
In addition to these symptoms, individuals with clinical hypothyroidism may develop:
- Great fatigue / low energy
- Difficulty concentrating
Inability to exercise properly
- Feeling cold all the time
- Chronic infections
Frequent nasal discharge
Muscle cramps / pains
- Pain in the joints
Numbness / tingling
- Memory weakness
- Carpal tunnel syndrome
- High blood sugar
Edema on the eyelids
Many cases of hypothyroidism do not respond well to the use of common drugs to replace hormones such as the synteroid, levothyroid, or levoxyl.
The reason is that these drugs contain only a synthetic version of thyroxine hormone (T4). The problem is that to be useful, T4 (the relatively inactive “storage” hormone) should be converted to T3 (the “active” hormone) and some people can not do it well.
Instead, they produce very little of the active T3 and too much of the mostly inactive form of the T3 hormone, known as T3 reverse or “rT3”.
This condition is sometimes referred to as Euthyroid Disease Syndrome, Low T3 Syndrome or Thyroid Disease Conversion Disorder. In these cases, people often do not feel relieved by their symptoms when they use only synthetic T4.
These types of thyroid dysfunction are milder than usual and by the usual thyroid problems that most endocrinologists are monitoring.
Also, subclinical hypothyroidism may also be due to an autoimmune disorder known as Hashimoto’s disease, in which the immune system attacks the thyroid gland.
Hashimoto may initially cause hyperthyroidism but will eventually lead to thyroid depletion due to tissue damage in the gland and inability to produce enough thyroid hormone.
Functional hypothyroidism can also occur when, for a long time, the body has sent too many false alarms to start a fight-or-flight response due to stress. These false alarms cause the effects of the adrenal gland and thyroid. This is why it is important to evaluate the condition and functioning of the adrenal glands together with that of the thyroid.
Functional Therapeutic Treatment
By evaluating the set of biochemical markers and genetic data we owe tο:
- pay special attention to all clinical symptoms
measure body temperature and pay attention to all other clinical details
- use extensive laboratory, molecular, thyroid tests to provide a complete and accurate picture of thyroid function
- evaluate the findings in the way needed
(If the laboratory results show the inferior of normal values for both the total and free forms of T3 and T4 hormones – or if your TSH results are in the upper part of the ideal values, a specialized surgeon will perform treatment of the thyroid, if there are also many clinical signs of low thyroid function.)
- Support thyroid function with changes in lifestyle and nutrition and with appropriate micronutrients and macronutrients
- The prescribing of thyroid hormone replacement therapy and doses to be designed with a personalized approach for patients (because it all depends on what we define as “normal”)
In conclusion, non-diagnostic thyroid issues are one of the primary reasons for a patient to complain continuously about fatigue, irritability, sensitivity to the body, and cognitive dysfunction.
Proper diagnosis and relatively simple treatment of abnormal thyroid levels can lead to spectacular changes in the quality of life of patients.
Dr. Nikoleta Koini, M.D.
Doctor of Functional, Preventive and Regenerative Medicine.
Diplomate and Board Certified in Anti-aging, Preventive, Functional and Regenerative Medicine from A4M (American Academy in Antiaging Medicine).