What are early warning signs of thyroid problems? Your thyroid is a small, butterfly-shaped gland in your neck that makes hormones. Hormones are essentially chemicals that tell your organs what to do, so when your thyroid makes too many hormones (hyperthyroidism) or too little (hypothyroidism), it can cause a range of symptoms. At first glance, they could appear unrelated: unexplained fatigue, increased sensitivity to cold, constipation, dry skin, weight gain, muscular weakness, and many more. However, when you take a deeper look, it’s possible that they will all link back to one root problem. That’s where functional medicine comes in.
Functional medicine is a new approach to medical practice that focuses on restoring the overall health of each patient, instead of just treating the symptoms of disease and sending them on their way. Doctors take the time to get to know each patient and learn about their lifestyle so they can diagnose and treat the cause of each issue instead of applying a band-aid solution. This approach means functional medicine doctors are extremely well positioned to help people living with thyroid problems take control of their health and return to living a life of health and happiness.
In this blog, we’re going to talk you through some of the early warning signs that are commonly associated with thyroid problems. Please talk to you doctor if you have any concerns.
Learn more at our functional medicine office in Johnson City, Tennessee. Schedule a free discovery call!
What Does the Thyroid Do?
Your thyroid makes two types of hormones, which play a major role in regulating your metabolism. This is essentially the way your body uses energy. Since your body uses the hormones produced by the thyroid gland to increase and decrease your heart rate, your body temperature, and your calorie burn rate, it has a huge impact on your overall feeling of well-being.
Ideally, the thyroid gland releases a steady number of these hormones into the bloodstream, allowing your cells to work normally. However, these levels can become imbalanced. Anyone can develop thyroid problems, but they’re much more common if you’re a woman older than 60 with a history of thyroid disease or an autoimmune disease, you’ve received radiation treatment, you’ve had thyroid surgery, or if you’ve been taking certain medications.
What are Early Warning Signs of Thyroid Problems?
Hypothyroidism (Underactive Thyroid)
Hypothyroidism usually develops slowly, so at first you might not notice the symptoms. You might start feeling a bit flat or gain a bit of weight, and you’ll probably attribute it to being tired or generally unwell. As your symptoms develop, they’ll become more noticeable and will have a bigger impact on your overall health. At this point, it’s really common that people start trying to treat one at a time, without knowing they’re actually all linked. Here are some common symptoms:
- Constantly feeling tired and flat
- Feeling really sensitive to the cold
- Gaining weight and having trouble losing it
- Depression, brain fog, and memory issues
- Slow digestion and constipation
- Muscle aches, weakness, and cramps
- Pain and swelling in joints
- Loss of sex drive
- Dry and scaly skin
- Thinning hair
If you’ve ever looked into thyroid problems before, you may have come across a condition called Hashimoto’s disease, or Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. This is an autoimmune disease in which your body mistakenly starts attacking your thyroid. It’s the most common cause of hypothyroidism, but the good news is it can be treated effectively with the help of a functional medicine doctor.
Want to learn more? Come to our free Holistic Thyroid & Autoimmune Solutions webinar.
Hyperthyroidism (Overactive Thyroid)
At the other end of the spectrum is hyperthyroidism. Again, the symptoms usually appear slowly, so at first you may think you’re just overexerting yourself or feeling stressed. Many of these symptoms are the inverse of an underactive thyroid. The first big sign is usually unintentional weight loss, which is often closely followed by a rapid heartbeat, sweating, irritability, and bursts of energy. Again, it’s treatable with the help of a functional medicine doctor. Here are some common symptoms:
- Unplanned weight loss with no lifestyle changes
- Anxiety, unexplained nervousness, and irritability
- Rapid digestion and an increased appetite
- Rapid, irregular, or pounding heartbeat
- Feeling really sensitive to the heat
- Tremors in the hands and fingers
- Fatigue and muscle weakness
- Increased sweating
- Difficulty sleeping
Hyperthyroidism is usually caused by an autoimmune condition called Graves’ disease. Just like Hashimoto’s disease, it occurs when the body’s immune system mistakenly starts attacking the thyroid, but in this case, it leads to an over stimulation of the gland and your body starts making much more hormones than it needs to function at an optimal level. You don’t have to keep living with these symptoms. There are a range of treatment options available to help you regain health.
Curious about functional medicine? Find out how our approach is different.
How Do I Know if I Have a Thyroid Problem?
As we mentioned, it’s really common for people to experience a number of symptoms linked to thyroid problems without knowing they are all connected to a single root cause. When patients contact our office, many are dealing with a number of these mentioned symptoms and have been told by their doctor that their labs are normal. This can be very frustrating because they still do not feel well. The first step, when we begin to work with a potential practice member, is to educate them on our approach and how we are different. The next step is to schedule a free discovery call. During the call we discuss what they’re going through, how they’ve tried to address their health concerns in the past, how our practitioner and support team can help, and put together a plan of action to prepare for their first appointment. If it looks like a good fit, then, we would schedule an initial consultation with our doctor to discuss the symptoms they’re experiencing, goals they have, and obtain the right testing to discover the root cause of their symptoms.
Every person is different, which means treatment options will vary from individual to individual. Our focus is not just to put a band-aid over your problems, but restore your whole-body health, so we customize individual programs to help our practice members reach their optimal health goals. This includes regular appointments with a functional medicine doctor, access to supplements and nutraceuticals to support healing, ongoing help from a functional medicine health coach, diagnostic labs, and access to a range of online educational materials and web-based classes to help you learn how to implement our five pillars of health to get your body back on track. We also have a relaxation room and infrared sauna to help expedite the healing process. We’re here to help you make long-term positive change.
If you’re tired of going from doctor to doctor, always treating symptoms and never making any real progress towards restoring your health, we can help. We’ll help you understand what’s really going on inside your body and why it’s happening so you can step into a new world of possibilities.
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Are Thyroid Problems Serious?
Thyroid problems can be treated effectively with the help of a functional medicine doctor. However, if they’re left untreated, they can lead to serious complications. An overactive thyroid can lead to issues including heart problems, brittle bones, eye problems, sore skin, and more. An underactive thyroid can lead to long-term issues with heart health, mental health, nerves, and fertility.
You deserve an abundant life with optimal health and freedom from illness. If any of this sounds familiar and you want to start the journey toward reclaiming your health, we welcome you to schedule a free discovery call to learn about your options.
Reclaim your health. Speak to our friendly team today.
Tri-Cities Functional Medicine is located in Johnson City, Tennessee, and serves patients throughout East Tennessee and into Virginia and North Carolina. These areas include but are not limited to: Washington County, TN, Sullivan County, TN, Carter County, TN, Greene County, TN, Knox County, TN, Bristol, TN, Holston Valley, TN, Tri-Cities, TN, Walnut Hill, TN, Elizabethton, TN, Greeneville, TN, Morristown, TN, Blountville, TN, Bluff City, TN, Kingsport, TN, Jonesborough, TN, Colonial Heights, TN, Limestone, TN, Knoxville, TN, Bristol, VA, and Abingdon, VA.