Thyroid Causes, Symptoms And Support Supplements
What is the Thyroid Gland?
The thyroid gland is a butterfly-shaped endocrine gland that is normally located in the lower front of the neck. The thyroid’s job is to make thyroid hormones, which are secreted into the blood and then carried to every tissue in the body. Thyroid hormone helps the body use energy, stay warm and keep the brain, heart, muscles, and other organs working as they should.
Through the hormones it produces, the thyroid gland influences almost all of the metabolic processes in your body. Thyroid disorders can range from a small, harmless goiter (enlarged gland) that needs no treatment to life-threatening cancer. The most common thyroid problems involve abnormal production of thyroid hormones. If your thyroid is too active, it makes more thyroid hormones than your body needs. That condition is called hyperthyroidism. Too much thyroid hormone can make you lose weight, speed up your heart rate, and make you very sensitive to heat.
What Causes Thyroid Problems?
All types of hyperthyroidism are due to an overproduction of thyroid hormones, but the condition can occur in several ways:
• Graves' disease : The production of too much thyroid hormone
• Toxic adenomas: Nodules develop in the thyroid gland and begin to secrete thyroid hormones, upsetting the body's chemical balance; some goiters may contain several of these nodules.
• Subacute thyroiditis: Inflammation of the thyroid that causes the gland to "leak" excess hormones, resulting in temporary hyperthyroidism that generally lasts a few weeks but may persist for months.
• Pituitary gland malfunctions or cancerous growths in the thyroid gland: Although rare, hyperthyroidism can also develop from these causes.
Hypothyroidism, by contrast, stems from an underproduction of thyroid hormones. Since your body's energy production requires certain amounts of thyroid hormones, a drop in hormone production leads to lower energy levels. Causes of hypothyroidism include:
• Hashimoto's thyroiditis: In this autoimmune disorder, the body attacks thyroid tissue. The tissue eventually dies and stops producing hormones.
• Removal of the thyroid gland: The thyroid may have been surgically removed or chemically destroyed.
• Exposure to excessive amounts of iodide: Cold and sinus medicines, the heart medicine amiodarone, or certain contrast dyes given before some X-rays may expose you to too much iodine.You may be at greater risk for developing hypothyroidism if you have had thyroid problems in the past.
• Lithium: This drug has also been implicated as a cause of hypothyroidism.
Symptoms Of Thyroid
Feeling exhausted when you wake up, feeling as if 8 or 10 hours of sleep a night is insufficient or being unable to function all day without a nap can all be signs of thyroid problems. (With hyperthyroidism, you may also have nighttime insomnia that leaves you exhausted during the day.)
2. Weight Changes
You may be on a low-fat, low-calorie diet with a rigorous exercise program, but are failing to lose or gain any weight. Or you may have joined a diet program or support group, such as Weight Watchers, and you are the only one who isn't losing any weight. Difficulty losing weight can be a sign of hypothyroidism. You may be losing weight while eating the same amount of food as usual - or even losing while eating more than normal. Unexplained weight changes and issues can be signs of both hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism.
3. Depression and Anxiety
Depression or anxiety - including sudden onset of panic disorder - can be symptoms of thyroid disease. Hypothyroidism is most typically associated with depression, while hyperthyroidism is more commonly associated with anxiety or panic attacks. Depression that does not respond to antidepressants may also be a sign of an undiagnosed thyroid disorder.
4. Cholesterol Issues
High cholesterol, especially when it is not responsive to diet, exercise or cholesterol-lowering medication, can be a sign of undiagnosed hypothyroidism. Unusually low cholesterol levels may be a sign of hyperthyroidism.
5. Family History
If you have a family history of thyroid problems, you are at a higher risk of having a thyroid condition yourself. You may not always be aware of thyroid problems in your family, though, because among older people, it is often referred to as "gland trouble" or "goiter." So pay attention to any discussions of glandular conditions or goiter or weight gain due to "a glandular problem," as these may be indirect ways of referring to thyroid conditions.
6. Menstrual Irregularities and Fertility Problems
Heavier, more frequent and more painful periods are frequently associated with hypothyroidism, and shorter, lighter or infrequent menstruation can be associated with hyperthyroidism. Infertility can also be associated with undiagnosed thyroid conditions.
7. Bowel Problems.
Severe or long-term constipation is frequently associated with hypothyroidism, while diarrhea or irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is associated with hyperthyroidism.
8. Hair/Skin Changes
Hair and skin are particularly vulnerable to thyroid conditions, and in particular, hair loss is frequently associated with thyroid problems. With hypothyroidism, hair frequently becomes brittle, coarse and dry, while breaking off and falling out easily. Skin can become coarse, thick, dry,and scaly. In hypothyroidism, there is often an unusual loss of hair in the outer edge of the eyebrow. With hyperthyroidism, severe hair loss can also occur, and skin can become fragile and thin.
9. Neck Discomfort/Enlargement
A feeling of swelling in the neck, discomfort with turtlenecks or neckties, a hoarse voice or a visibly enlarged thyroid can all be signs of a "goiter" an enlarged thyroid gland that is a symptom of thyroid disease.
10. Muscle and Joint Pains, Carpal Tunnel/Tendonitis Problems
Aches and pains in your muscles and joints, weakness in the arms and a tendency to develop carpal tunnel in the arms/hands, tarsal tunnel in the legs, and plantars fasciitis in the feet can all be symptoms of undiagnosed thyroid problems.
Treatments for hyperthyroidism
Thyroid hormone production can be suppressed or halted completely in these ways:
• Radio-iodine treatment (a form of radiotherapy)
• Anti-thyroid medication
If your doctor decides that radio-iodine treatment is best, you will be asked to swallow a tablet or liquid containing radioactive iodine in amounts large enough to damage the cells of your thyroid gland and to limit or destroy their ability to produce hormones.
Occasionally more than one treatment is needed to restore normal hormone production. It is not advisable for breastfeeding or pregnant women to use this method of treatment, and women should be advised not to conceive for at least six months after treatment. Men, meanwhile, should not father a child for at least four months after this treatment. Many patients eventually become hypothyroid with this form of treatment, and you will need to have routine thyroid tests for an indefinite period afterwards.
If you start using anti-thyroid medications such as propylthiouracil or carbimazole, your hyperthyroid symptoms should begin to disappear in about three to four weeks, as the hormones already in your system run out and the medication starts to impair hormone production by the thyroid gland.
There are two ways of using these medications. One is to give very high doses to stop the thyroid gland producing any hormone, and then supplementing with thyroid tablets. The other is to give a very carefully titrated dose and monitor regularly until the thyroid hormone level eventually comes down to a normal range. Both methods work equally well.
Many medications also slow down the thyroid and also cause iodine deficiency. Lithium and corticosteroids are thyroid-slowing and should be used sparingly if at all. Pain medications, antihistamines and anti-depressants may also slow the thyroid down. Medications that make you feel sleepy or slow may also slow your thyroid and your metabolism down even more. Ask your doctor about alternatives. Once normal thyroid function is restored the dosage of medication may gradually be reduced. Unfortunately some people relapse on this treatment, and you will need regular blood tests while taking the medicines to monitor your thyroid levels.
Side effects are usually quite mild but there is one serious rare complication called agranulocytosis, involving reduced bone marrow production of white blood cells. One sign of this is a sore throat. You should seek medical advice if you develop a sore throat while on anti-thyroid medications so the doctor can do a blood test to check that your white blood cells are fine.
Surgery is often recommended for people under 45 years old when their hyperthyroidism is due to toxic adenomas (hot nodules), since these nodules tend to be resistant to radioactive iodide. Surgery is also recommended where medication has failed to control thyroid production or is contraindicated. Once the tissue has been removed surgically, hormone levels typically return to normal within a few weeks. Again, thyroid monitoring is important as some patients become hypothyroid over time.
Here are three things you can do to boost your thyroid function:
1. Eat more of these great sources of iodine to enhance thyroid function:
• Low fat cheese
• Cow’s milk
• Low fat ice cream
• Low fat yogurt
• Saltwater fish
• Seaweed (including kelp, dulce, nori)
• Soy sauce
2. Eat less of these foods; they slow your thyroid because they block your thyroid and your medication from producing thyroid hormone properly, especially when eaten raw. Cooking these foods inactivates their anti-thyroid properties. These foods are called goitrogens, which are chemicals that lower thyroid function. Eat these foods sparingly or only once every four days:
• Cauliflower (Any vegetable that falls into the broccoli family is a goitrogen and shouldn’t be eaten more than twice a week if you have hypothyroidism.)
• Brussels sprouts
• Pine nuts
• Soy (Isoflavones block iodine)
• Canola oil
3. Workout every day. All you need is a pair of sneakers and a watch, and you’re ready to go. For optimal thyroid function, you must exercise at least three days a week for 40 minutes per workout. I strongly suggest working out/walking every day so your thyroid gets a boost daily to correct the condition until your thyroid is running at an optimal rate. Circuit training is also great way to lower insulin levels and increase thyroid function. This is easy to do in the comfort of your own home by doing pushups, lunges and sit-ups back to back without rest, pushing yourself a bit to get out of breath.
Enhance your thyroid with supplements. Take thyroid-enhancing supplements daily to gently and safely keep your thyroid working optimally for life. The best way to treat anything is to prevent it! Supplementing is the best way to keep your thyroid running at an optimal rate and to keep your weight under control. Start your supplement regime first by using a very strong, high quality multivitamin. Most store-bought vitamins are not suitable or strong enough to help hypothyroidism, so look for a very potent high quality multi with high levels of iodine, selenium, zinc, vitamin B, D, E and at least 2 grams of vitamin C. Other nutrients such as omega-3 as well as amino acids also help regulate the thyroid and need to also be considered. Hypothyroid clients use gugglesterones. Guggulsterone or guggulipid’s have been used for centuries in ayurvedic medicine to naturally regulate the thyroid and keep it running at an optimal rate without the side effects of medications. Look for supplement multitaskers from a very reputable source so you don’t have to take 29 different pills every day.
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