Today’s video, I will be covering 5 Causes of a High TSH in Woman. If you are just tuning in, this is 2nd video and article in our three part series on TSH or Thyroid Stimulating Hormone.
In the first video, I reviewed some of the Most Common Symptoms Experienced In Woman with a High TSH and what you should be on the lookout for, Todays video, I will be reviewing the 5 Main Causes of a High TSH in woman and in final video (video #3) I will cover the Treatment options For High TSH, as well as the pros and cons of each thyroid treatment method.
The key to understanding why you are struggling with a thyroid problem and not getting better, lies in understanding WHY you have a High TSH in the first place. Sounds simple and logical doesn’t it? but guess what… Nobody is asking why TSH is elevated??
If your TSH is high (Greater than 3.0), I’m going to bet your doctor has you taking either levothyroxine or Synthroid. But……. my question to you is this, “Have you stopped to wonder about what’s causing your TSH to be high?”
Another words, why would your thyroid stop producing hormones? In Root Cause Medicine, it’s not enough to just dump thyroid hormones into the body, because you have a High TSH… Yet (this is exactly what happens in traditional medical system- but this does not mean that this is what is best for you)
If you are serious about fixing your thyroid, then at some point, you are going to realize that taking thyroid replacement will not be your fix. If the underlying root cause of your High TSH is not addressed you are going to get sicker down the road.
Before I get into the cause of High TSH, there is something I want you know and I think this is SUPER IMPORTANT that you understand this because no one else is talking about this…. So, I want you to pay very close attention to what I’m about to tell you
#1 It is absolutely critical that you have a complete thyroid panel. You can visit it my website for more information on what this consists of. But if you have that done, that’s only step one. While having a complete Thyroid panel is essential to addressing the Root Cause of Thyroid disease, many people mistakenly think and believe that by having a complete thyroid test they will have ALL the answers as to why they are gaining weight or why they are losing their hair or why they are fatigued all the time, but there is much more to this.
Blood testing will confirm that we have a thyroid problem as well as “What Kind of Thyroid problem We Have”, meaning your T3 and T4 levels are low or you have high levels of Reverse T3, or you are not properly converting T4 to T3, or if we have Hashimotos disease, BUT what blood testing cant tells us is WHY our TSH is high or WHY we have Low T3 or T4 levels or WHY We have an elevated Reverse T3 or Why our immune system is attacking and destroy the thyroid gland and this information is just as important as knowing where your levels are. You see THE KEY and most important question that needs to be unraveled with Thyroid disease….is the WHY in all of this. We Need To Further Investigate…….. If We Want To Get To The Root Cause! So, #1 complete thyroid panel tells us in part (what the problem is) But it does NOT tell us the WHY. Here is where we need to dig a bit more and investigate further. This is what I am going to talk about today!
If you need help with obtaining a Full Thyroid Panel including Consultation, We Can Help with this
Probably the most common cause of an elevated and high TSH levels is an autoimmune mechanism known as Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis.
Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is a condition where your immune system attacks the thyroid gland.
As your thyroid gland is attacked by the immune system its production of hormones are reduced over time.
Ultimately, the result is long-term and potentially permanent damage to your thyroid gland over time– At this point the thyroid shuts down and you will need to take thyroid medication for the rest of your life.
Research shows that anywhere between 50% and 90% of all cases of hypothyroidism may be caused by this autoimmune disease and if you live in the United States then Hashimoto’s is the number one cause of hypothyroidism.
In some cases, by the time the diagnosis is made, you may already have permanent damage to your thyroid gland, especially if the autoimmune mechanism has gone undetected for decades.
This is why regular and routine Thyroid antibody testing should be done on everyone who has a high TSH.
I also want to mention that when it comes to testing for Hashimotos it is not a one and one deal. You don’t get tested one time and never test for Hashimotos again. You might test negative today, but in 3 months or 6 months from now (you might be positive.)
So, I recommend that if you notice that your symptoms wax and wane or flare up from time to time, that you get both of your thyroid antibodies tested when you are having a flare up.
If you download my Free thyroid guide. You can learn more about the testing for Hashimotos, identifying the autoimmune triggers behind Hashimotos as well as how to naturally manage Hashimoto’s disease.
There are also a several videos that will be very helpful for you to watch, if you are newly diagnosed or suspect you have Hashimotos.
The good news about early detection of Hashimotos is that when it is caught in time, there are many action steps that can be taken to influence the course of the disease and reduce the destruction and damage caused by the immune system- but you need to take action sooner than later and you need to realize that taking thyroid replacement is NOT going to stop your autoimmune disease.
It is only going to replace the low hormone levels.- I call this the topping off the gas tank approach.
I always tell patients, that it is not difficult to diagnose Hashimoto’s disease, but what is tricky is identifying what your individual autoimmune triggers are and then making the necessary lifestyle changes required to support the immune system…… and this goes way beyond just changing your diet and taking some supplements.
If you want more information educate yourself as much as possible about these autoimmune triggers.
Let’s move on to another reason behind a high or elevated TSH.
Increased Cortisol due to problem with the Adrenal glands- Another important cause of high TSH is due to either acute or prolonged stress. Stress is far more complex than just emotional.
Cortisol is considered our primary stress hormone. Stress varies from person to person, but things like disrupted sleep pattern, hidden infections, emotional stress from toxic relationships, child hood trauma, heavy metals, environmental toxins, 2nd hand smoke, gut inflammation, fluctuating blood sugar levels, as well as food intolerances or food allergies.
These are all stressors on your body and can influence your thyroid levels as well as your immune system.
Keep in mind that too much or too little cortisol negatively affects thyroid gland. It is about Hormonal balance.
For today’s video, let’s focus on too much cortisol. Here is a study I came across titled elevated thyroid stimulating hormone is associated with elevated cortisol in healthy young men and woman.
This means that as cortisol increases so too does TSH and when TSH goes up you should expect thyroid hormone imbalances to occur.
Let’s dig into another cause of elevated TSH.
Excess Iodine can shut down thyroid function. While many people talk about Iodine deficiency causing hypothyroidism and high TSH, I want you to be aware that excess Iodine is equally problematic.
While it is true that Iodine is needed to make thyroid hormones, iodine excess results in hypothyroidism-
This excess Iodine can come from CT scans, MRIs or any other diagnostic contrast imaging.
Another surprising area where you could be exposed to excess amounts of Iodine is your natural Thyroid supplements. I have a video coming out on this in the next few weeks.
Foods like Kelp, milk, sushi, seaweed, cheese, foods high in sodium usually contain high amounts of iodine and of course if can come from Iodized salt.
If you are going to check Iodine levels, do not check them in the blood. Iodine levels CAN NOT be measured reliably in blood given the considerable day to day variation of Iodine intake. You will need to speak with your doctor and get a jug to collect your urine in.
What I do and suggest from time to time with my patients is testing urinary iodine concentrations.
If you are an adult and your urinary Iodine levels are >300 micrograms this is considered excessive iodine intake.
If you are pregnant, urinary Iodine levels >500 micrograms is considered excessive iodine intake
So my word of caution here is that anyone with thyroid problems or even symptoms of thyroid disease think twice about eating foods high in salt, or supplements that contain Iodine. (most over the counter Thyroid supplements contain Iodine as one of the ingredients)
So a quick recap, so far I covered 3 of the 5 causes of a high TSH…….
number one, I talked about Hashimotos being a cause of elevated TSH, I talked about high Cortisol levels and being locked in that Fight or Flight response causing high TSH that was number two, I also talked about excess Iodine causing High TSH being #3
This one can be a bit tricky! Its easy to get hung up on TSH levels- but anytime a level is high- we need to ask Why is it high. This is the premise of Functional Medicine!
If you remember what I said earlier when I was explaining that a high TSH is the bodies response to low levels of circulating T3 and T4 thyroid hormones.
Medications have the ability to affect thyroid levels in many different ways and depending on the medication you are taking will determine how it can affect your thyroid gland.
So, we need to think about medications and even some of the vitamins that we may be taking that can lower our T3 and T4 levels. I have a video that is going to be coming out on this as well.
When it comes to medications, remember medications have the ability to affect thyroid levels in many different ways and depending on the medication you are taking will determine how it can affect your thyroid gland. Not all medications affect the thyroid gland the same way.
If you are taking or have taken medications for problems like heart arrhythmias, antidepressants, medications that treat hepatitis, epileptic medications, birth control pills, drugs for ADHD, medications for Restless leg syndrome, or drugs for Parkinson’s disease-
ALL of these can effect thyroid function in one or more ways I just spoke about and this is something you should discuss with the doctor who is prescribing you these medications and share your concerns about. Hopefully, what you can see from today’s video is that when it comes to getting to the root cause of thyroid disease, it is much more complicated than just taking thyroid hormones to raise your levels.
If you suspect that a medication is contributing to your high TSH and low thyroid function, I encourage you to do two things.
Unfortunately, when it comes to nodules there a several different types of nodules- some can be hot, some can be cold, some can cause elevation in TSH and others can cause low TSH levels.
What we do know, is that Thyroid nodules are common and are frequently discovered in clinical practice.
Because some Nodules or cysts can affect thyroid function I recommend that anyone who routinely has a high TSH and low T4 get an ultrasound.
An ultrasound is the best diagnostic study to evaluate the thyroid and the neck area if one suspects a nodule.
If you are having any kind of problem with swallowing or difficulty breathing or your voice is hoarse, watch my videos on thyroid nodules.
There a few videos I have done the first one is called, “The Real Cause of Thyroid nodules and it is not the Goitrogens you are eating”, and the other video is titled, “When to be concerned about Thyroid nodules” So there you go!
As always, I hope you enjoyed the information I shared with you today! If you have questions about working with me, or one of my nutritionists in my practice, whether you need help implementing a certain diet or you are looking to dig deeper into the Root cause of your health problems with Functional Testing we are here to help!
As you can see this is why having a complete thyroid panel is necessary to address the Root Cause.