Dayna’s personal experience: Looking back now, I think I have had hypothyroid for a long time since, probably since I was about 18 years old. I remember working at buy low foods, and one shift I found myself passed out in the middle of a grocery isle not knowing how I got there, or how long I was out, but I never investigated into it. I had my first child Chandler, at 23, and after he was born I felt mild depression and anxiety. Doctors kept telling me it was just postpartum depression or exhaustion from going back to work grave yard shifts 6 weeks after giving birth. I was working 12 hours shifts all night and waking up after a couple hours with a new born and continuing each day with 2 -4 hrs sleep. I thought they were right that I was just burnt out.
But the anxiety and the depression continued, so I was put on meds for anxiety. I started feeling better over time and was finally able to get off graveyards and work days. I also was able to find time for running, which made my life so much better. The anxiety and depression diminished.
Then, about three years ago, things started going hay-wire again. I started to fall asleep on my breaks at work, going to bed as early as 7:30, and feeling like I was going to faint constantly. I started having muscle aches and joint pain so bad that I was convinced I was developing arthritis through-out my entire body. I was gaining weight even though I was running at least 50km per week and eating really healthy. I started having night sweats, I would wake up in the middle of the night soaked in sweat, my hair, my clothes, my bedding, everything. During the day, I was so cold that I would have a hot bath just to kill the chill that ran right through my bones.
The straw that broke the camels back was when I started loosing my hair in large bald patches. One night I was on my way back from a business trip on the plane when I was rubbing my head, I started to feel a bald spot. I asked my co worker if I was going bald and to look at my head, he simply said, “you are going bald”. I remember feeling full of panic and I started to cry. I then looked at my arm, legs and I had lost all my hair, and most of my eye brows. I had developed alopecia. I was completely panicking! “What’s wrong with me!!!” In full panic, I ran to the bathroom on the airplane and balled my eyes out. I knew I needed to figure out what was happening in my body, I knew something was wrong, I could feel it inside me. I was tired of constantly feeling like I had been hit by a bus.
After I landed into Vancouver I went to emergency to find out the cause of all these symptoms; my tiredness, fainting, weight gain, muscle soreness, fatigue, hair loss, night sweats and being cold during the day. After 8 hrs in the ER my tested showed came back. I was diagnosis with severe hypothyroidism, severely low iron levels and anemia. The doctor literally asked me how I was still able to get out of bed in the morning, let alone run, because my levels were so low. After that visit, I was put on iron pills and synthroid (levothyroxine) which is a synthetic hormone replacement for thyroxine, the hormone your thyroid gland naturally produces. It helps your body be able to regulate it’s energy and metabolism. I also started injection treatment for my hair loss.
After about two weeks of taking synthroid I started to feel better. But after awhile I started to retain so much fluid in my face, and legs. I was put on a diuretic to try and reduce the water retention. I decided I did not want to be on all these medications so I went to a natural-path. I have now been on natural thyroid medicine for over 2 years. I no longer have water retention, and my thyroid levels are back to normal. I am feeling more awake everyday, I have lost weight, I can run again, my anxiety and depression are gone, my hair has grown back and I am no longer having night sweats. I feel so much better.
From my personal experience, If you have been dealing with depression, anxiety, sudden weight change up or down, muscle soreness, feeling like you have the flu, hair loss or bald patches, night sweats, or just generally feeling like you’ve been hit by a bus…Please get your thyroid checked! I think I lived for so long with it before having it diagnosed, and now knowing what it is, I can finally start to feel normal again. Hypothyroidism is very, very common, so if you have any of the symptoms, it might be a good idea to investigate!
I recognize that healing your thyroid naturally is not going to work for everyone, this is just my personal experience. I also looked into food sensitivities and allergies and cut out gluten and dairy entirely which ahs also helped make a huge difference.
What exactly is Hypothyroidism?
It is a common disease of the endocrine system in which the thyroid does not produce enough throid hormone. Thyroid hormone is required for the normal functioning of numerous tissues in your body. Healthy thyroid glands secrete hormones, and produce the thyroid hormone. It is the only source of it in the body. To be produced it requires iodine and an amino acid called tyrosine. The iodine from the bloodstream is secreted by the gland and incorporated into thyrodglobulin molecules. This process is controlled by the thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH), which is secreted by the pituaitary gland. If your body is low in iodine or TSH, there will be a decreased production in hormones. Lab work is used to diagnosis. Measuring the TSH levels in the blood is the best initial test. You may need a test weeks later to confirm the levels. If the TSH level is high, it indicates that the thyroid gland is not producing enough thyroid hormone. If this is the case, T4 levels will be tested also. If you have high TSH and low T4, it is a good indication that you have hypothyroidism. It is a very common disease, and it is said that abour 8% of the population has some sort of thyroid insufficiency, and it is much more common in women than men.
There are different types of hypothyroidism. Primary is an inadequate function of the thyroid gland, which is the most common type. Iodine deficiency is the most common cause of primary hypothyroidism world wide. After child birth, about 5% of women can develop post-partum hypothyroidism. About 20-40% remain permanently hypothroid.
It can be difficult to diagnosis based on symptoms because often people have very few, and or generic symptoms. TSH levels are not in standard blood work routines and can often get missed unless it is specified. If you think that you might have it, it is important to talk to your doctor about it and request the blood test.
Signs and Symptoms of hypothroidism:
-Fatigue -Dry, coarse skin
-Feeling cold -Cool extremities
-Poor memory and concentration -Hair loss
-Constipation -Slow pulse rate
-Weight gain with poor appetite -Swelling of the limbs
-Shortness of Breath -Delayed relaxation of tendon reflexes
-Hoarse voice -Carpal tunnel syndrome
-Heavy periods (and later light periods) -Pleural effusion(fluid in the lungs)
-Abnormal sensation -Ascites(fluid in the abdomen),
-Poor hearing -Pericardial effusion(fluid around the heart)
What are your options as far as treatment? Most commonly if you are diagnosed, you will be put on Synthroid, a synthetic thyroid hormone. The dosing will depend on your TSH levels and how severe your symptoms are. There are also side effects of Synthroid so make sure to talk to your doctor about what to expect when starting a medication. For the first few weeks you will have to get repeat TSH levels drawn so the medication can be properly dosed to your body, it’s response to the medication and your TSH levels. If you do not want to be on a medication, you can seek out natural-pathic medicine like I did. I have no side effects of the medication and I am feeling almost 100% back to normal.
The main thing is you have to advocate for yourself. If you are feeling these symptoms and have not received a diagnosis about what is causing it, talk to your health care provider about inquiring about hypothyroidism. Since is not part of standard blood work, and because the symptoms can be somewhat generic, it is easily missed, and then it gets worse.
The Thyroid Foundation of Canada is a great resource for anyone with thyroid issues or questions and touches on other thyroid conditions.