In Episode 67 of the Thyroid Thursday, Dr Eric Balcavage discusses some of the earliest indicators of hypothyroidism.
Hey, everybody. It’s Dr. Eric Balcavage. We’re back for another edition of Thyroid Thursday, and today in episode 67, I want to discuss some of the earliest signs of hypothyroidism.
Now you’ve heard me talk about hypothyroidism from a cellular standpoint and a glandular standpoint. Glandular hypothyroidism means that the gland is under attack or it’s not producing enough thyroid hormone usually with elevated TSH, low T4, and low T3. But, cellular hypothyroidism is really where hypothyroid symptoms emanate from. When you have hypothyroid symptoms, you actually have reduced active thyroid hormone (T3) reaching the nucleus of your cells, and that’s what slows your metabolism. That’s what causes you to have the symptoms of hypothyroidism.
What are some of those early indicators of hypothyroidism?
Well, number one is hypothyroid symptoms. If you’re tired, fatigued, you have brain fog, you have thinning hair, dry skin, your eyebrows are going away, or you’re gaining weight; these are all indications of decreased thyroid hormone reaching your peripheral cells.
The second early indicator of hypothyroidism is a total T3, less than 100. Now 100 is the low end of the functional range. The lab low range would be less than 70. From a functional standpoint (an optimal standpoint) if T3 levels drop below 100, that’s a good indication that you may not be getting sufficient T3 to your peripheral cells.
The third is lower levels of free T3. If your free T3 levels drop below 3, that’s another good indication that you may have cellular hypothyroidism.
The fourth is an elevated reverse T3 (rT3). I like to use the 18 as the upper level of the optimal range. If your reverse T3 (rT3) is over 18, then there’s a good indication that your cells are deactivating your T4. Once T4 reaches the cells, because of the stress at the cells, that T4 is being deactivated to reverse T3 (rT3). A reverse T3 (rT3) level greater than 18 is an early indicator of cellular hypothyroidism.
Indicator number five is a T3 to reverse T3 (rT3) ratio of less than 10, meaning that your cells are deactivating more of the T4 to reverse T3 than converting T4 to T3 inside your cells. (To find your ratio divide T3/rT3. Optimal is greater than 10.)
Number six is a free T3 (fT3) to reverse T3 (rT3) ratio less than 0.2. Again, it’s an indication that the body’s deactivating more of your T4 to an inactive form of thyroid hormone at your peripheral cells. (To find your ratio divide fT3/rT3. Optimal is greater than 0.20.)
And the last early indicator is elevations of thyroid antibodies, and specifically TPO and thyroglobulin antibodies. These aren’t necessarily early indicators of cellular hypothyroidism, but they can be early indicators of glandular hypothyroidism.
We’ve talked before that hypothyroidism often starts at the cellular level due to some type of chronic stress response. If that stress response is prolonged due to that stress or stressors being persistent, there can be autoimmune attack on the thyroid gland.
Those are the seven early indicators of hypothyroidism.
I’ve talked about what you can do to help reduce the stressors that are driving hypothyroidism on multiple Thyroid Thursday videos.
- If you have sleep issues, you need to address those.
- If you snore at night, you need to address it.
- If you have subclinical yeast or bacterial infections in your gut, you need to address them.
- If you have gluten intolerance, that can be driving your stress response. You must stop eating it.
- If you’re taking medications that induce cellular stress, you will deactivate your thyroid hormone.
- If you have toxicity issues going on, they need to be addressed.
There are a number of things that can drive a chronic cellular stress response that will deactivate your thyroid hormone. Some of these things you can work on on your own.
- Definitely work on an autoimmune, anti-inflammatory diet.
- Definitely work on improving your sleep quality.
- Definitely work on reducing any types of emotional stressors you have going on in your life.
If you do those big three things and you’re still struggling with hypothyroid symptoms, reach out to a functional medicine practitioner like myself.