Thyroid 101

 

You, most likely, have heard the term ‘Thyroid Testing’, or the phrase:“You should get your thyroid checked” in the past few years. Whether it was said to you or to someone else, it is actually pretty sound advice in certain cases. Approximately, 23 million Americans suffer from thyroid-related disorders! And, it is highly important that we educate ourselves about the role this small body part plays in our well-being. January happens to be Thyroid Awareness Month, and this could, actually, be a great start for the year to start paying attention to a gland that has a massive effect on your overall health.

So, let’s start with some facts!

 

What is the thyroid?

The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland located in the base of your neck that is responsible for regulating Your endocrine (hormonal) system. Its job is to absorb iodine and combine it with amino acid tyrosine. Then, in turn, it converts that combination to T3 and T4 hormones. 

What is the thyroid’s job?

In simple words, the thyroid is responsible for pumping the right hormones to the right body parts. A healthy thyroid means your hormones are going to exactly where they need to go in order to keep you healthy.

How does the thyroid affect other organs and their functions?

Think of the thyroid as the ‘Master of Metabolism’! It is directly responsible for your metabolic rate. (pretty crucial function, if you ask us!)

Not only that, it, also, affects piovtal bodily functions, such as: brain development, mood, heart and digestive functions, bone density, and muscle control — just to name a few! Needless to say, that when your thyroid is out of balance, it means your body will feel the effects and your health will reflect them!

What are some signs that mean I could be dealing with a thyroid unbalance or a thyroid disorder?

Different thyroid disorders have different symptoms. However, it would be safe to say, that for each of those disorders; the main characteristic, as far as signs, is that it is a group of unrelated symptoms grouped together! Some of the obvious symptoms are:

– Difficulty in gaining weight, or losing weight.
– Swollen neck.
– Fatigue and general tiredness.
– Depression.
– Hair loss (including facial hair, like your eyebrows)
– Bowel movement issues (such as constipation).
– Dry skin.
– Thyroid Hair (dry wiry hair).
– Lack of focus.
– Poor reflexes.
– Constant feeling of cold (due to the body not regulating its internal temperature properly).

 

Some of the lesser obvious symptoms are:

 

– Dry Mouth.
– Anxiety.
– Low Libido.
– Irregular menstrual cycles.
– Headaches.
– High Cholesterol.
– Raspy voice.
– Premature greying.
– Frequent and recurring inflections.

What is the most common thyroid disorder?

Hypothyroidism/Hashimoto’s disease: this may be the most common form of thyroid disorders (and autoimmune disorders, for that matter), affecting 14 million people in the United States alone. It could be mainly characterized with iodine deficiency, although there could be other underlying factors as well.

What could be the reason(s) causing my thyroid to under-function?

The brief correct answer to that is: “get your thyroid checked”. Get tested by your doctor, or ask your pharmacist about the types of available testing to determine the direct underlying causes for thyroid-related issues.

Could it be that I am not eating properly?

That might be a factor. There are certain vitamin and mineral deficiencies to pay close attention to, such as:

– Low Vitamin D.
– Too little, or too much Iodine.
– Low Zinc.
– Low Selenium.
– Low Iron.
– Low Vitamin A.
– Not getting enough calories from food, in general.

After I get my test results back, and if I do, in fact, have thyroid issues, what are my treatment options?

Conventional Medicine, depending on the case and its severity, mainly relies on prescribing thyroid supplements to help relieve the uncomfortable symptoms. On the other hand, Functional Medicinefactors in important elements such as proper diet, lifestyle improvements, and hormone therapy, if needed.Consult with Your Pharmacist about the best options for you. Hormone Replacement Therapy, may be, especially, beneficial in a lot of patients’ cases.

 

There are wide misconceptions that thyroid issues only affect women, and not men. Moreover, that they only affect people of certain age group, rather than others. However, the truth is, those misconceptions could not be any more false. Thyroid issues affect both men and women. And, they affect people, mostly, ages 15 and above. We cannot stress enough that if you are struggling with seemingly unrelated symptoms grouped together from the lists we have mentioned, that you go get tested. Trust your instincts and stay aware and informed, so when you speak to your healthcare prescriber, you stay on top of your symptoms and your available options, so you can get treatment and relief. After understanding how common thyroid-related disorders and how greatly they can impact your body and your well-being, keeping yourself and your loved ones aware, should be a duty and a mission. In honor of Thyroid Awareness Month, share this article with someone who may need to read it.