There’s More Than One Type of Hypothyroidism?

Types of Hypothyroidism

The most common thyroid disorder we address at Naturopathic Family Health is hypothyroidism.

Patients commonly recognize typical symptoms like fatigue, weight gain, constipation, and depression, but are often unaware of the different types of hypothyroidism.

Understanding the specific type of hypothyroidism is crucial for effective treatment and setting realistic expectations.

Hypothyroid: the Basics

Hypothyroidism is a medical condition describing someone who produces lower than normal amounts of thyroid hormone. 

People who have hypothyroidism can experience:

  • fatigue
  • depression
  • hair loss
  • dry skin
  • constipation
  • weight gain
  • and cold intolerance

The causes of hypothyroidism can be categorized into three groups:

  • primary hypothyroidism
  • transient hypothyroidism
  • and subclinical hypothyroidism

Primary Hypothyroidism

The low production of thyroid hormone can be influenced by a number of factors. When the production problem solely resides at the thyroid gland, it is called a primary hypothyroidism. 

The most common type of primary hypothyroidism is Hashimoto thyroiditis. 

In Hashimoto thyroiditis, our immune system mistakenly attacks our own thyroid glands, so the glands gradually lose its function and production of thyroid hormone. Unfortunately, this condition is not curable. 

Treatment is thyroid medication for life, but with the proper dose of medication, patients can be symptom free and live a normal life.  

Transient Hypothyroidism

When our body has gone through some challenges, the thyroid gland may struggle to produce adequate amounts of thyroid hormone for a period of time. With proper support of rest and nutrients, the thyroid gland usually bounces back in a few months.

One example is subacute thyroiditis due to a viral infection.  During the infection, the body’s immune system accidentally attacks the thyroid glands resulting in pain in the neck, mood swing, fatigue and other hypothyroidism symptoms. 

Another example is postpartum thyroiditis. This type of hypothyroidism usually happens within 6 weeks to 6 months after giving birth. It occurs to 6% to 8.8% of women. It can last up to 1 year after giving birth. Treatment is usually thyroid medication.

Subclinical Hypothyroidism

This type of hypothyroidism describes people who have a lot of symptoms of hypothyroidism, but their lab values are normal. 

Whether to recommend thyroid specific treatment is a judgment call by the doctor. Some doctors would argue that the symptoms are caused by something else since lab values are normal. 

I personally find that treatment is often helpful for symptom relief. This is the situation that herbal support can be sufficient without the need of using thyroid medication.  It is also important to investigate other causes as the function of the thyroid gland is often influenced by the adrenal function and sex hormones.  

Postoperative Hypothyroidism

In some cases, part or all of the thyroid is removed surgically in a procedure called thyroidectomy. This may be necessary in case of thyroid cancer, severe thyroid dysfunction or after trauma to the neck.

The remaining thyroid tissue, if any, may not produce enough thyroid hormone to meet the body’s needs. Supplementation with thyroid hormones, synthetic or natural, is often needed for post op hypothyroidism, however, nutritional and herbal supplementation can improve the function of the remaining thyroid tissue and help to ease the stress on the body overall.  

If you are wondering about whether you have hypothyroidism, it is important to seek a professional to have your symptoms thoroughly evaluated. 

Feel free to schedule a consultation with the providers at Naturopathic Family Health if you have any specific concerns.  

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Dr. Sherry Su, San Jose Naturopath

Dr. Sherry Su, ND, FABNG
Naturopathic Doctor San Jose

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