What is Thyroid-Related Fatigue?

fatigue, yawningNot all fatigue or tiredness is due to thyroid malfunction, so how do you tell the difference?

Thyroid-related fatigue begins to appear when you cannot sustain energy long enough, especially when compared to a past level of fitness or ability. If your thyroid foundation is weak, sustaining energy output is difficult. You will notice you just don’t seem to have the energy to do the things you used to be able to do.

Some of the key symptoms of thyroid fatigue include:
  • Feeling like you don’t have the energy to exercise, and typically not exercising on a consistent basis.
  • A heavy or tired head, especially in the afternoon, as your head is a very sensitive indicator of thyroid hormone status.
  • Falling asleep as soon as you sit down and don’t have to do anything.
If you wake up energized, maintain decent energy throughout the day, are able to maintain mental alertness/sharpness, have energy as needed to meet demands, and your muscles feel fit, you do not have thyroid-related fatigue. However, the more you do not feel like this, the greater chance there is a thyroid-related problem.
Dr. Mercola's Comments:
Your thyroid is a small butterfly-shaped gland that produces hormones that influence essentially every organ, tissue and cell in your body. Thyroid disease, if left untreated, can lead to heart disease, infertility, muscle weakness, osteoporosis and, in extreme cases, coma or death -- yet it’s estimated that half of the cases in the United States remain undiagnosed.

Hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid) affects some 80 percent of people with thyroid disease. Symptoms of hypothyroidism include fatigue, forgetfulness, depression, constipation, and changes in weight and appetite.

How do You Know if Your Thyroid is Not Working Properly?

Your body will likely let you know, and fatigue is the most common sign, followed by depression and muscle weakness. Along with the symptoms above, signs of an underactive thyroid also include:
  • Difficulty losing weight despite proper diet and exercise
  • Sensitivity to cold
  • Dry, rough or scaly skin, and dry, tangled hair
  • Hair loss, particularly from the outer part of your eyebrows
  • Brittle nails
The most common conventional way physicians diagnose hypothyroidism is with a thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) test that is elevated beyond the normal reference range.

The range for acceptable thyroid function is between 0.3 and 3.04. In my experience, most adults with levels over 3 have hypothyroidism, and many with levels from 1.5 to 3.0 seem to benefit from thyroid support.

Be Wary of Using Hormones to Treat Hypothyroidism

Nearly every conventional medical doctor will use synthetic thyroid to treat the symptoms of underactive thyroid.

Unfortunately, in my experience, this will not help the bulk of people who are suffering with these symptoms, and to understand why you need to know a bit more about the role of your thyroid and how it functions.

Your thyroid produces several hormones, of which two are key: triiodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine (T4). These hormones help oxygen get into cells, and make your thyroid the master gland of metabolism.

However, most people can’t effectively convert the pure T4 in the synthetic thyroid preparations to T3. A natural thyroid hormone may be a better bet and I encourage all patients taking synthetic thyroid prescriptions like Synthroid to find a natural medical doctor and switch to Armour thyroid.  Clearly this doesn’t work for everyone, just most in my experience.

But even when using natural thyroid preparations there are concerns.

You see, once you remain on a thyroid hormone for a period of years, your thyroid will tend to become progressively less functional. In time, it will probably stop producing any functional hormones whatsoever, which could condemn you to taking thyroid hormone for the rest of your life.

Natural Methods to Restore Your Thyroid

The first and most basic step you can take is to clean up your diet. This means reducing your intake of processed and refined foods, while following a nutrition plan that is right for your nutritional type.

You can also:

1. Make sure you’re getting enough selenium and iodine, which provide the raw materials for your thyroid gland to work better.

2. Get plenty of omega-3 fats from high quality sources like krill oil. A variety of studies and physiological principles suggest that omega-3 fat in doses of 3-5 grams per day would be helpful in restoring thyroid function.

3. Get a sound night’s sleep, in complete darkness.

4. Address your emotional stress. The vast majority of people's thyroid glands become impaired as a result of weak adrenal glands. The thyroid gland tries to compensate for this and eventually just gives up and stops working.

Well, adrenal impairment is frequently due to emotional stress, and unless you have these previous emotional challenges resolved, there is little likelihood of recovering your thyroid function without hormonal replacement.