The thyroid releases thyroid hormones which regulate the metabolism, growth, development and body temperature. The two best-known thyroid conditions are Hypothyroidism (under-active thyroid) and Hyperthyroidism (over-active thyroid). Hypothyroidism is a term which denotes that the thyroid is not working as it should and is not releasing the correct level of hormones. Hypothyroidism symptoms may not become obvious for a while and can be sometimes be mistaken for other conditions, if hypothyroidism is not correctly diagnosed.
The thyroid gland is a small gland, normally weighing less than one ounce, located in the front of the neck. It is made up of two lobes that lie along the windpipe (trachea) and are joined together by a narrow band of thyroid tissue, known as the isthmus.
A properly functioning thyroid gland takes in iodine from foods or supplements, and converts it into thyroid hormones: thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3).Thyroid cells are the only cells in the body which can absorb iodine. These cells combine iodine and the amino acid tyrosine to make T3 and T4 which are then released into the blood stream to make the body’s energy.
Causes of Hypothyroidism
There are two main causes of hypothyroidism. The first is a result of inflammation of the thyroid gland, which damages the thyroid cells and leaves them incapable of producing sufficient hormones. The most common cause of this kind of inflammation is Hashimoto's disease (see below).
The second main cause of hypothyroidism is a result of the thyroid gland not being stimulated properly by the hypothalamus or pituitary gland. The rate of thyroid hormone production is controlled by the pituitary gland. If there is an insufficient amount of thyroid hormone circulating in the body to allow for normal functioning, the release of TSH is increased by the pituitary gland in an attempt to stimulate more thyroid hormone production. In contrast, when there is an excessive amount of circulating thyroid hormone, TSH levels fall as the pituitary attempts to decrease the production of thyroid hormone. In people with hypothyroidism symptoms, there is a persistent low level of circulating thyroid hormones.
Pituitary Gland Abnormalities
If the pituitary gland stops functioning properly, the thyroid gland may not produce the correct amount of thyroid hormone. Pituitary tumors or pituitary surgery can affect the pituitary gland's functioning and lead to hypothyroidism.
Sheehan's syndrome is a condition that causes damage to the pituitary gland. If a woman loses a life-threatening amount of blood or has severe low blood pressure after childbirth then the gland can be damaged, leading it to under-produce pituitary hormones.
Lack of Iodine
Iodine is needed for the production of the thyroid hormone. If the body does not have enough iodine then this can lead to hypothyroidism.
Types of Hypothyroidism
The most common type of hypothyroidism in the US is Hashimoto's disease, also known as chronic lymphocytic thyroiditis or autoimmune thyroiditis. It is an autoimmune disease – which means the body's immune system attacks its own cells and organs. Hashimoto's disease causes the immune system to attack the thyroid gland, leading to inflammation and prevention of thyroid hormone production.
Thyroiditis is the inflammation of the thyroid gland. In this type of hypothyroidism, the thyroid hormone to leak out into the blood, raising their overall levels and leading to hyperthyroidism. After 1-2 months, this usually develops into hypothyroidism. Thyroiditis can be caused by viral or bacterial infection, as a result of an autoimmune condition and pregnancy.
Like Hashimoto's disease, postpartum thyroiditis is a thyroid condition that seems to be caused by a problem with the immune system. The first phase starts 1 to 4 months after giving birth when the damaged thyroid leaks thyroid hormones out into the bloodstream and symptoms of hyperthyroidism may occur. The second phase starts about 4 to 8 months after delivery when symptoms of hypothyroidism occur because the thyroid has lost most of its hormones. In most women who have postpartum thyroiditis, thyroid function returns to normal within 12 to 18 months after symptoms start.
Silent or Painless Thyroiditis
Symptoms are the same as in postpartum thyroiditis, but they are not related to having given birth.
Symptoms are the same as in postpartum and silent thyroiditis, but the inflammation in the thyroid leads to pain in the neck, jaw, or ear. Unlike the other types of thyroiditis, subacute thyroiditis may be caused by an infection.
Babies can be born with a thyroid that does not function properly. Congenital hypothyroidism can lead to physical and mental growth problems, but early treatment can prevent these complications.
When it functions as it should, the thyroid will produce T3 and T4 at a 20% - 80% ratio. An under-production of these hormones will slow down the body’s metabolism, causing Hypothyroidism. Common hypothyroidism symptoms include:
- weight-gain despite eating sensibly
- feeling cold even in warm weather
- hair loss
- dry, flaky skin, especially on the face
- unexplained joint pain
- In addition to these symptoms, people with hypothyroidism may have high blood levels of LDL cholesterol, the so-called “bad” cholesterol.
Traditional Hypothyroidism Treatment
Conditions such as hyperthyroidism, goiters, thyroid nodules, and thyroid cancer may be treated by partially or fully removing the thyroid gland, which can then lead to hypothyroidism. Radiation treatment of the thyroid can also lead to hypothyroidism. Radioactive iodine is a common treatment for hyperthyroidism and destroys the cells of the thyroid gland. Radiation is also used to treat people with head and neck cancers, Hodgkin's disease and other lymphomas, and this can damage the thyroid gland, leading to hypothyroidism.
A number of drugs can cause hypothyrodism. These include amiodarone, interferon alpha, interleukin-2, lithium, tyrosine kinase inhibitors.
Natural & Effective Hypothyroidism Treatment
Lifeworks Wellness Center is long recognized as one of the foremost natural health clinics in the US. At our Tampa Bay, Florida alternative medicine office we have been offering treatment for hypothyroidism for a long time and many of our patients have benefitted from it. Our patients fly in from all over the world because they simply can’t find clinics offering treatment for hypothyroidism and natural medicine for hypothyroidism where they live.
We have helped many patients regain their health and we would love to help you, too. To become a patient or for more information feel free to call our New Patient coordinator at (727) 466-6789 or simply submit an online web form with your request.
Learn More about Your Thyroid
- Visit the main Thyroid Treatment portal page with videos, patient success stories & more.
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*Disclaimer: Individual patient results may vary based on a patient's medical history and other factors.