Let’s continue on our journey to cover all the clinical signs, symptoms and dysfunctions of the body that might betray hypothyroidism, without forgetting that no patient suffer from all of these problems at once. One symptom alone is enough to raise a suspicion, but of course, the more symptoms that are present, the greater the likelihood that the patient suffers from an underactive thyroid. However any final diagnosis must be based on objective biological evidence, which serves to support the clinical signs.
We left our discussion with kidney failure and anaemia, but these two conditions are also other linked together in fact, which we have not previously specified. We should also mention additional disturbances of the urinary tract: the frequent need to urinate especially during the night (called nocturnal pollakiuria), water retention or oedema. This last topic is of great importance as we find it in many cases and in many forms: facial puffiness, bags under the eyes, swollen eyelids (especially upon rising), swollen fingers (resulting in a difficulty to remove rings), swollen legs and ankles, etc.
To be honest, these conditions don’t just come from weakness in the kidneys, but also a lack of combustion of metabolic waste, which is the role of fat burner played by the active thyroid hormone T3. It comes from the activation of the enzyme that fixes L-Carnitine on fatty acids, allowing them to be imported into the small factories that produce energy in the form of ATP (the mitochondria).
In the same vein we find many hypothyroid patients suffering from what we call tunnel syndromes, which are due to the compression of small bones and ligaments through which certain nerves pass. The most well known example of this is carpal tunnel syndrome where the median nerve is compressed resulting in tingling and pain in the fingers, especially at night. It is totally unnecessary to operate on these patients (often bi-laterally): the correction of the underlying hypothyroid condition is usually sufficient to cure them!
We progress to the next disorder, an absolute classic of insufficient thyroid function: hypercholesterolemia (high cholesterol)is all too often "treated" with statins when a simple rebalancing of thyroid function normalizes cholesterol levels almost every time, as long as a good diet is also implemented. As with the other cited links, you will find all the scientific evidence on my website www.gmouton.com (under “Conferences – Functional Hormonology – Thyroid)
As a logical continuation of this, let’s now tackle, the cardiovascular disease, as their relationship with hypothyroidism is well recognized; whether atherosclerosis (blocked arteries), coronary artery disease (whereby the coronary arteries are specifically affected), and hypertension. It is interesting to note that hypertension resulting from a thyroid weakness primarily affects primarily the diastolic blood pressure (the lower value when your blood pressure is taken). One can easily guess the stimuli leading to these problems: an accumulation of cholesterol and various metabolic wastes, water retention and even an increase in homocysteine (hyperhomocysteinaemia, is a well-known risk factor).
Still following the role of thyroid hormones as the key metabolic activator, there can be an increase in triglycerides (known as hypertriglyceridemia), a type of fat exclusively produced from sugars and starches. This is yet another cardiovascular risk factor plus, for some, an increased tendency to develop type II diabetes, as a consequence of insulin resistance.
Moreover, clinicians see a familiar link with hypoglycaemia, which can derive from an underactive thyroid (as in adrenal insufficiency). It must be reiterated that these feelings of hunger and general weakness should not lead to the intake of fast releasing sugars, nor even starchy foods eaten on their own. A handful of nuts (almonds, walnuts) or a small tin of sardines will resolve this “moment of weakness”!