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La Mesa, CA

Hypothyroidism Treatment in La Jolla, CA

A picture of Dr. Mark Stengler

Understanding Hypothyroidism:

Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment Options

Hypothyroidism is a prevalent disorder affecting the thyroid gland, a butterfly-shaped organ located in the front of the neck that produces hormones responsible for regulating the metabolism of every cell in the body. Dr. Mark Stengler, a renowned physician who has treated numerous patients with thyroid issues, believes that thyroid disorders have reached epidemic proportions in our country. This increase can be attributed to various factors such as environmental toxins, pharmaceutical medications, and stress. In this article, we will explore the causes, symptoms, and treatment options for hypothyroidism, shedding light on this often-misunderstood condition.

The Prevalence of Hypothyroidism

Although approximately 10 million Americans have been diagnosed with hypothyroidism, Dr. Stengler estimates that the actual number could be as high as 30 million, including many individuals who are unaware of their underactive thyroid. This raises an important question: could you or your physician be overlooking the signs of hypothyroidism? It is crucial to understand the symptoms associated with this condition, as they can often be mistaken for the effects of a busy and stressful lifestyle.

Recognizing the Symptoms

Fatigue, cold hands and feet, unexplained weight gain, dry skin and hair loss, and depression are all potential symptoms of hypothyroidism. These signs may be present in varying degrees among individuals, with some experiencing multiple symptoms and others showing none at all. While it is typical for women in their late 40s or early 50s to be affected by low thyroid activity, it is essential to note that hypothyroidism can occur at any age and affect anyone.

Understanding the Common Causes

The leading cause of hypothyroidism is Hashimoto's thyroiditis, an autoimmune condition in which the immune system attacks the thyroid gland, resulting in inflammation and reduced production of thyroid hormones. Women are more likely to develop this disorder, with low thyroid activity occurring five to ten times more frequently in females than in males. While a genetic predisposition plays a role in Hashimoto's thyroiditis, other potential triggers include hormonal imbalances (such as insulin resistance seen in diabetes), food allergies (e.g., gluten intolerance), and stress. In rare cases, hypothyroidism can also be caused by pituitary gland failure or the presence of a pituitary tumor.

Diagnosing Hypothyroidism: The Importance of Comprehensive Testing

One of the major challenges in diagnosing hypothyroidism is the failure of many doctors, both conventional and holistic, to accurately assess thyroid function. Often, a standard blood test measuring thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) is conducted, providing a general indication of thyroid activity but overlooking the intricacies of thyroid function. To ensure a thorough evaluation, it is recommended to consult a holistic physician who can perform a complete thyroid test panel, including assessments of free T3 and free T4 (the principal thyroid hormones) as well as tests for thyroid antibodies.

Interpreting Test Results

While some physicians consider low levels of free T3 and free T4 within the "normal" range as acceptable, Dr. Stengler argues that the standard for "normal" is set too low. For instance, the accepted range for free T3 is 230 picograms per deciliter (pg/dL) to 420 pg/dL. However, if a patient's test reveals a level of 240 pg/dL, many doctors may dismiss it as acceptable. In contrast, Dr. Stengler has observed that patients tend to experience significant improvements in their well-being when their T3 levels are closer to the mid-range, around 320 pg/dL or higher. A similar principle applies to free T4 levels, where increasing the level to 1.2 ng/dL or higher often leads to improved symptoms.

The Role of Hormone Replacement Therapy

Traditional physicians commonly prescribe synthetic T4 alone (e.g., Synthroid, Levoxyl, and Levothroid) for patients with hypothyroidism. However, Dr. Stengler has found that synthetic T4 alone may not yield optimal results for individuals who struggle to convert T4 to the more active T3 hormone. Instead, he recommends natural, bioidentical thyroid hormone replacement therapy, such as Armour Thyroid, Nature-Thyroid, and Westhroid, which are derived from desiccated pig thyroid. These options provide a combination of T3 and T4 hormones that closely resemble the body's natural production. Another alternative is compounded bioidentical T4 and T3, which has no animal origin.

The Importance of Nutritional Support

In addition to hormone replacement therapy, nutritional support plays a crucial role in optimizing thyroid function. Certain nutrients can aid the body in producing its own thyroid hormones. Dr. Stengler suggests the following supplements, which are generally safe for everyone:

L-tyrosine: This amino acid serves as the foundation for thyroid hormones. Taking 500 mg approximately 30 minutes before breakfast can be beneficial.

Multivitamins: These supplements contain essential nutrients like selenium, zinc, and B vitamins, which are necessary for the conversion of T4 to T3.

Iodine: As a vital component of T4 and T3, iodine supplementation is crucial. A daily intake of at least 150 micrograms (mcg) is recommended. However, individuals with Hashimoto's thyroiditis should exercise caution and consult a physician before initiating iodine therapy. Higher doses may be beneficial in some cases, but it is best to be prescribed and monitored by a nutrition-oriented doctor.

Contact Us Today

Hypothyroidism is a common disorder that affects millions of individuals in the United States. The symptoms can often be overlooked or mistaken for other causes, leading to underdiagnosis and inadequate treatment. However, with a holistic approach to diagnosis and treatment, individuals with hypothyroidism can find relief and regain optimal thyroid function. By consulting a knowledgeable physician, considering comprehensive thyroid testing, and exploring natural hormone replacement therapy and nutritional support, it is possible to address the underlying causes of hypothyroidism and improve overall well-being. For further information about Dr. Stengler's practice and his clinic in La Jolla, California, please visit our website at or contact us at (760) 274-2377.

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