How do I know if I have Hypothyroid?

Thyroid disorders are on the rise, we're not exactly sure why, but more and more are struggling. It's estimated that 20 million Americans are suffering from thyroid disorders. And yet so many have yet to discover that their thyroid is suffering. 

Interestingly, women are much more likely to have thyroid issues than men, 5-8 times more likely in fact.

So how do you know if your thyroid is causing the problems? First let's start with the symptoms.

Symptoms of Hypothyroid:

  • Fatigue
  • Brain fog
  • Forgetfulness
  • Unexplained weight gain
  • Inability to lose weight
  • Always cold
  • Depression
  • Dry and brittle nails
  • Dry skin
  • Unexplained hair loss
  • Low labido
  • Trouble sleeping: falling asleep, staying asleep, or trouble waking up
  • Constipation/Diarrhea
  • Infertility
  • Low Immune function
  • Puffy eyes and face

This is not an exhaustive list of symptoms, but it's a great place to start. I know a lot of these symptoms can overlap with other maladies or health issues (Adrenal fatigue, Candida, Lyme, etc). Some of these things may overlap, one may be causing the other, or they may be separate completely. So it's important to look at a few other factors.

Basal body temperature:

Your basal body temperature can be very telling when it comes to your thyroid health. When the thyroid is in hypo mode it struggles to produce enough body heat. The optimal range for basal body temperature is between 97.8-98.2. This is the temperature of your body at rest, ideally when you first wake up, before you get out of bed. 

Oftentimes when your basal body temperature is low you struggle with being too cold throughout the day. You need extra layers for warmth, or you're always snuggling up in a blanket. 

I also recommend to get your labs checked. There are flaws with lab results and the standard testing process most doctors follow. That's why I think it's important to pay attention to the other signs I mentioned above. But finding a knowledgeable doctor you can work with and getting more in depth tests checked can help to zero in on what's going on.

Getting your Thyroid Tested:

Most doctors will only test for Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH) levels when checking the thyroid. Unfortunately, this will miss a lot of hypothyroid cases, because the problems happen downstream of TSH. I go more in depth into this topic here. That's why it's important to ask your doctor to do further testing. 

Here's what I recommend:

  • TSH: ideal 0.5 - 4.5 mlU/L (although some believe this range needs to be smaller. Anything over 2 mlU/L may be indicative of thyroid issues)
  • Free T4 (Thyroid hormone): ideal 80 - 180 micrograms/dL
  • Free T3 (Active Thyroid hormone): ideal 55 - 120 ng/L

You can do further testing. Sometimes it's good to do the first 3 tests and then go from there. But if your doctor is open to testing more you can add:

  • Thyroid Antibodies
  • Reverse T3
  • Iodine
  • Iron
  • Vitamin D

Good luck as you start your journey to thyroid health!