Your thyroid is a small gland that plays a big role in our health. Unfortunately, sometimes the gland can become dysfunctional and cause a multitude of problems. We’re here to help and give you options when you’re making too much – or too little – of the thyroid hormone.
What is the Thyroid?
Your thyroid is a gland in your neck, shaped much like a butterfly and located right above the collarbone. This is one of the endocrine glands in the body, which is responsible for making hormones. These hormones from the thyroid control many things within your body like how your metabolism functions, how fast your heart beats, and more. It’s many roles include:
- Regulating metabolic activities in almost every tissue within the body, including producing energy and heat
- Stimulates grow and turnover
- Effects the cardiovascular system, including how the heart pumps, blood vessel dilation and relaxation, and effects on cholesterol
- Reduces total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol
- Relaxes arterial smooth muscle, which lowers blood pressure
- Stimulates nerve growth and development of the brain and nervous system
- Effects the storage of fat and converts it to energy
- Plays a part in how the liver break down toxins, stores energy, fat, and cholesterol
- Interacts with the brain/pituitary gland to regulate hormone production
The thyroid produces two hormones, T3 and T4. However, T4 accounts for 80% of that. In certain parts of the body, T4 is converted to T3. T3 is what is known as the more biologically active form out of the two. It responds to a stimulating hormone that comes from the brain’s pituitary gland, called TSH. When everything is working properly, the thyroid gland makes appropriate amounts of these hormones. These hormones then signal to the brain that everything is a-okay and functioning as it should. When disease attacks the thyroid gland and it’s not functioning as it should, your body won’t produce adequate amounts of the hormones.
It’s estimated that over 27 million Americans have issues with their thyroid. The U.S. National Library of Medicine breaks down the following thyroid problems and what they mean:
- Goiter: enlargement of the thyroid gland
- Hyperthyroidism: when your thyroid gland makes more than your body requires
- Hypothyroidism: when you don’t make enough of the thyroid hormone
- Thyroid cancer
- Lumps in the thyroid gland: known as thyroid nodules
- Thyroiditis: swelling on the thyroid
The most common cause of low functioning thyroid, hypothyroidism, is due to an underlying autoimmune disease. However, nutritional deficiencies or adrenal stress can also be to blame. Symptoms of hypothyroidism are:
- Mood disorders like depression and irritability
- Neurological disorders including vertigo and poor vision
- Gastrointestinal problems like constipation and poor digestion
- Female problems like PMS, irregular cycles, and infertility
- Male problems like erectile dysfunction and infertility
- Cardiovascular problems like slowed heart rate, abnormal rhythm, and high cholesterol
- Skin, hair, and nails problems like slow growth and healing
To treat hypothyroidism we look at TSH, T4, T3, rT3, and sometimes T3/rT3 ratios. We will also look at certain vitamin and mineral levels within the body too. In addition, we will also look at the adrenal glands. After the levels are evaluated, an individualized treatment plan will be put into place to help promote quick and efficient healing.
Less common than hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism is when the thyroid is overactive. The most common cause of this one as well is an autoimmune disease, but in this case it stimulates producing too much hormone. Symptoms include:
- Weight loss
- Hot flashes
- Increased heart rate and abnormal rhythms and palpitations
- Skin changes on shins and legs
- Eye problems and dryness
- Irritability and nervousness
- Panic attacks
We will perform T3 and T4 level tests for this along with TSH, antibodies, and rT3. We may also order imaging of the gland to rule out nodules, such as an ultrasound. Occasionally studies will be done to observe function along with looking at mineral and vitamin levels within the body. Treatment for an overactive thyroid typically involves an “antithyroid medication.” This type of medicine will work, sometimes along with others, to help the gland balance out. In many instances, treatment is only needed for six months to one year.
Get Help with Balanced Well-Being Healthcare
60 percent of those with thyroid disease are unaware of their condition. If any of these symptoms sound all too familiar to you, contact us today. At Balanced Well-Being Healthcare, we will get to the bottom of your condition and treat you accordingly. You deserve to feel healthy, and we want to help you get there. Call us for an appointment now at (970)-631-8286.