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Thyroid Awareness Month

January is Thyroid Awareness Month. Up to 20 million Americans have a thyroid condition — and up to 60 percent of them don’t know it. The thyroid can be either overactive or underactive. And both conditions can lead to big health problems.

Can’t seem to lose that extra weight? Feeling tired or sad? Do you have thin, brittle hair or nails or even cold intolerance? These are a few signs and symptoms of hypothyroidism.

This is a condition when the thyroid gland is unable to produce enough of the thyroid hormones, known as T4 (thyroxine) and T3 (triiodothyronine). People with low thyroid have decreased metabolism because the thyroid cannot keep up with the body’s needs. Your doctor can determine if there is a problem with your thyroid gland by taking a blood test which is usually checked during your annual exam or when you have symptoms. Always ask for a copy of the blood work results. This way you can know what your doctor is looking at and play a vital role in your healthcare. If you are having symptoms, but your doctor says your labs are normal, this doesn’t mean that it’s all in your head. Comparing your lab values over time may show a trend up or down, which may explain why you are having symptoms.

Just because a lab value falls in the “normal” range doesn’t mean that it’s normal for you. Thyroid-Stimulating Hormone (TSH) is commonly the only thyroid level drawn, but it has a wide reference range and optimal levels will fall closer to the center of the range. Other thyroid levels that should be ordered if TSH levels are not looking good or you continue to have symptoms are Free T4, Free T3, and Thyroid Peroxidase Antibodies (TPO). These additional labs will allow you to see the whole picture.

If you fall in the normal range, but still have symptoms you may benefit from over-the-counter supplements to help boost your thyroid to the right level for you. XymoDine is an iodine supplement which enhances thyroid production. Iodine is used as a building block to help your body make thyroid hormones to keep your metabolism functioning in a balanced state. Another thyroid supplement called T-150 has natural thyroid hormone along with a small amount of iodine to help relieve your symptoms. MedCapsT3 is another product which contains a combination of vitamins, minerals, and herbs to help support your thyroid hormone production and balance. MedCapsT3 doesn’t contain animal products, which would be suitable for persons with a vegetarian or vegan diet. Selenium is found in the two combination products mentioned and can be taken by itself to help support healthy thyroid levels as well.

There are prescription medications that replace thyroid hormones. You may have heard of or even tried Synthroid®, Levoxyl®, or Cytomel®. These synthetic medications only have one of the thyroid hormone components; therefore, it may be more difficult to achieve a balance. Armour® Thyroid is another prescription medication which is different from the others because it has a mix of T4 and T3 from a natural source, porcine thyroid gland. The combination may help mimic the body’s natural way of producing these hormones. However, the strengths available may not work for everyone. A compounding pharmacy, like Annie’s Apothecary, can make the strength that works best for you. These medications will be something you take for the rest of your life so you want to make sure you get it right!

The thyroid is just one hormonal component of the body that affects the body’s functions. There are other hormones in your body which may be causing your symptoms because of a hormone imbalance. Make sure to talk to your doctor or pharmacist about these options if you think you may be experiencing symptoms possibly related to your thyroid. If you would like to learn more about the supplements discussed above please contact Annie’s Apothecary.