Thyroid Awareness Month: The Basics of Thyroid Health

January is Thyroid Awareness Month and rightfully so: the thyroid is such a critical part of your overall health it deserves an entire month to be recognized. With more than 25 million adults in the US suffering from low thyroid function, I feel very strongly this is the perfect opportunity to educate and spread awareness about the thyroid and how it plays such a crucial role in your health and wellbeing.

What Is The Thyroid Gland and What Does it Do?

The thyroid gland is a small butterfly-shaped gland that is located right under the larynx in the neck. It not only governs the metabolic rate of your body, but it interacts with almost every other part of your body. This is why it is so important that you have a thorough understanding of the thyroid.

When it comes to your hormones, there is a constant balancing act going in the human body and the thyroid gland is the main component as it interacts and regulates with nearly every other hormone in the body.

  • Triiodothyronine, commonly known as T3, is your most active thyroid hormone and helps to increase metabolic function.
  • Thyroxine, or T4, is the inactive thyroid.
  • Thyroid Stimulating Hormone, or TSH, is the communicator, telling the body to produce more thyroid hormone.
  • Reverse T3 helps prevent the metabolism from becoming overactive

In order to maintain total thyroid health, it is crucial that you keep each of these balanced and regulated. When any of the thyroid hormones dysfunction, a variety of conditions can present themselves.

HYPOTHYROIDISM – Sub-Optimal Thyroid Function

Hypothyroidism, caused by sub-optimal thyroid function, is when your thryoid gland is underactive and therefore, not producing sufficient thyroid body to maintain your metabolism. When this happens, you may begin to experience a variety of symptoms, such as:

  • Fatigue
  • Cold sensitivity
  • Inability to lose weight
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Depression
  • Muscle aches
  • Joint pain
  • Poor sleep
  • Constipation
  • PMS
  • Dry skin
  • Hair loss
  • Brittle nails
  • Reduced libido

Unfortunately, many who present to their mainstream physician with these symptoms are either misdiagnosed or undiagnosed altogether and instead, treated for some other illness. For example, many patients will go to the primary care physician, express their chronic fatigue and poor sleep, only to be prescribed a prescription for sleep medication. Instead of getting to the root cause of the fatigue or disrupted sleep, many time conventional medicine simply masks the symptoms with prescription drugs.

Learn more about the symptoms and treatments of hypothyroidism here.

HYPERTHYROIDISM – The Opposite of Hypothyroidism

Though less common than hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism is another very common thyroid disorder and is on the other side of the spectrum. Instead of your thyroid gland underperforming, hyperthyroidism is when your thyroid gland produces too much thyroid hormone. This elevated level of thyroid hormone can cause the body to enter a rushed state, which leads to heart palpitations, hyperventilation, anxiety, and an excessive rate of calorie burning. When your body produces too much T3 and T4, your body is essentially working until exhaustion. Hyperthyroidism commonly produces symptoms similar to those with mood and anxiety disorders, as well as:

  • Depression
  • Excessive perspiration
  • Heat sensitivity
  • Insomnia
  • Weight loss
  • Panic attacks
  • Increased hunger
  • Irregular cycles
  • Muscle fatigue
  • Weakness

Similarly to hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism is very commonly mis- or undiagnosed and is, instead, treated for its symptoms.

HASHIMOTO’S THYROIDITIS – An Auto-Immune Disorder

If you’ve done any research on thyroid health, you’ve probably heard the term “Hashimoto’s”. In this case, your body begins producing antibodies towards the thyroid gland and therefore, tries to destroy the thyroid gland altogether. This not only leads to hypothyroidism symptoms, but also a severe thyroid hormone shortage. Additionally, while these thyroid hormone cells are being destroyed, quick bursts of thyroid hormones are also released at the same time, causing a temporary spike in thyroid hormone, causing symptoms similar to hyperthyroidism. Hashimoto’s is almost like a mix of hypo and hyperthyroidism, and the worst symptoms of each.

Symptoms of Hashimoto’s include:

  • Goiters
  • Neck tenderness
  • Insomnia
  • Weight gain or loss
  • Sensitivity to cold and hot
  • Fatigue
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Muscle weakness
  • Joint pain

Because so little is known about Hashimoto’s, typically patients who experience these symptoms are written off and/or treated for PMS, chronic fatigue, depression, anxiety disorders or even fibromyalgia.

GRAVES’ DISEASE

Different from Hashimoto’s, Graves’ Disease overproduces antibodies that mimic the thyroid stimulating hormone, telling the body to produce excessive amounts of both T3 and T4, which results in hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism. One of the biggest signs of Graves’ Disease is protruding eyes, which is caused by an inflammation within the eye socket.

Other symptoms of Graves’ Disease include:

  • Insomnia
  • Weight loss
  • Anxiety
  • Increased appetite
  • Reduced libido
  • Heat sensitivity
  • Irregular menstrual cycles
  • Blurred vision

As you can see, thyroid health is critical when it comes to your total health. There are many thyroid disorders and an array of symptoms associated with each. It is so important that you discuss these many symptoms with your provider and become an advocate for yourself. I encourage you to stand up for your health and question conventional medicine. If you believe you are suffering from thyroid disorders and have been mis- or undiagnosed, I welcome you to call us today to get started on a personalized and natural treatment plan for your thyroid disorder. 281-313-7435

Test your symptoms here to see if you could be suffering from hypothyroidism.

Tagged with: , , ,

Posted in: Hypothyroidism

Leave a response

Ask Us a Question

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.