What Is A Thyroid?
You may have heard someone say that they have a thyroid problem or disorder, but you really weren't sure of what a thyroid is. You may have wondered.. What is a thyroid and what does it do? Well, a thyroid is a large gland that is found below the Adams apple in the front of the neck. The thyroid is butterfly shaped.
The thyroid is very important because it produces and secretes thyroid hormone. Thyroid hormone regulates the body's organ function as well as metabolism. The thyroid works in conjunction with the pituitary gland and the hypothalamus. The thyroid functioning properly has a direct impact on the liver, heart and muscles. If the thyroid gland secretes too little, too much or stops secreting thyroid hormone it causes altogether it can cause a host of uncomfortable symptoms. One who has a thyroid that no longer functions properly may develop hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism.
What Is Hypothyroidism
Hyperthyroidism is what happens when the thyroid is producing too much thyroid hormone. Hypothyroidism occurs when the thyroid either produces too little or no thyroid hormone. Hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism are just two thyroid problems that can occur. Thyroiditis a painful inflammatory condition that causes fevers, cancer of the thyroid which is very common and goiters which enlarge the thyroid gland are also problems that can occur in the thyroid. One suffering unknowingly with hyperthyroidism can experience an irregular heartbeat, nervousness and increased sweating. Untreated Hypothyroidism can cause massive weight gain, hair loss, pale dry skin and fatigue. Image credit: http://www.umm.edu
Fortunately there are medications, therapies, remedies and even exercise to help alleviate thyroid illnesses and if you suspect that you have one of these before mentioned thyroid disorders, you should schedule an appointment as soon as possible with your primary care physician. Thyroid disorders are a serious matter and shouldn't be ignored. Early detection and treatment is the key to good thyroid health.
Hypothyroidism is a condition where the thyroid gland produces abnormally low levels of the thyroid hormones T3 (triiodothyronine) and T4 (thyroxine). It affects approximately 1 in 1,000 men and 1 in 50 women and has a number of unpleasant symptoms including depression, tiredness and weight gain. In this article I’m going to be a taking a deeper look at hypothyroidism, the causes, the symptoms and the ways you can prevent it.
What Causes Hypothyroidism?
Hypothyroidism generally develops when the thyroid gland gets damaged in some way and cannot produce adequate amounts of thyroid hormones. However, it can also be caused by dietary factors and consuming certain medications. The list below outlines the main causes of hypothyroidism:
1) Autoimmune Thyroiditis: Autoimmune thyroiditis (also known as Hashimoto's thyroiditis) is a disease where the immune system malfunctions and creates antibodies that attack your thyroid gland. This then gradually inhibits the thyroid gland’s ability to produce T3 and T4 and slowly leads to the development hypothyroidism. Autoimmune thyroiditis is one of the leading causes of hypothyroidism but unfortunately, like with many autoimmune diseases, the trigger behind it is unknown.
2) Thyroid Surgery: Thyroid surgery can sometimes damage the thyroid gland and limit the amount of thyroid hormones it can produce.
3) Thyroid Radiotherapy: Thyroid radiotherapy often has a similar affect to thyroid surgery and can damage the thyroid gland which in turn minimizes the amount of T3 and T4 it can produce.
4) Iodine Deficiency: Your body uses iodine to produce both T3 and T4, so if you don’t get enough of this nutrient in your diet, your body can’t produce adequate amounts of these hormones.
5) Medications: Taking certain medications can interfere with the thyroid gland and prevent it from producing adequate levels of thyroid hormones.
6) Problems With The Pituitary Gland: In some rare instances, the pituitary gland does not produce enough thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH). As the name suggests, TSH stimulates the thyroid gland to produce T3 and T4, so if the pituitary gland does not produce enough TSH, the thyroid gland will not produce enough thyroid hormones. Image: www.drugs.com
Symptoms Of Hypothyroidism?
Since hypothyroidism is characterized by low levels of the thyroid hormones T3 and T4 which affect a huge number of processes in the body (including your body temperature, heart rate, growth and metabolism), it has a wide range of symptoms which include:
- Brittle Hair & Nails
- Memory Loss
- Muscle Aches & Pains
- Weight Gain
Don't panic if you suspect that you may have hypothyroidism. If you are diagnosed with hypothyroidism, your primary care physician can prescribe hypothyroidism medications to help ease the symptoms so you can lead a more productive and normal life. Without being diagnosed and treated a host of uncomfortable symptoms like weight gain, brittle nails, dry itchy skin, muscle aches and joint pain can occur. You can also experience hair loss and pale skin. None of these symptoms sound like fun and can be quite frustrating and annoying for the one who experiencing them. Fortunately there are several medications that can help ease the symptoms of hypothyroidism. Make sure to consult with your doctor before taking any medications.
1. Synthroid is a prescribed medication that can help with your hypothyroidism symptoms. This synthetic hormone is taken orally on an empty stomach. While taking Synthroid you will want to avoid soy and high fiber foods. Synthroid helps to replace your missing thyroid hormones.
2. Levothroid is a prescribed thyroid hormone replacement medication. This medication is ingested orally and it can take several weeks before any improvement of your symptoms are noticed.
3. Levothyroxine is a thyroid hormone replacement prescription drug used to treat hypothyroidism, which occurs when the thyroid ceases to secrete enough thyroid hormone. This medication is usually taken once a day by mouth. This isn't a cure for hypothyroidism and can take several weeks for you to feel a difference.
4. Levoxyl a prescribed thyroid hormone replacement drug is used to treat hypothyroidism symptoms. This drug can also help to prevent thyroid goiters.
When taking a thyroid medication you need to make sure that you have your thyroid checked yearly because you need to make sure that you are taking the correct amount of synthetic hormone for your condition. You doctor should know of any other health conditions you may have like heart disease, angina, arrhythmia and high blood pressure. Your doctor also needs to be informed of all prescription and over the counter drugs you are currently taking to avoid an unnecessary drug interaction.
Also when you are taking hypothyroidism medications you may have to stop taking certain medications or avoid taking certain medications and health supplements at the same time to avoid harmful interactions. Did you know that some medications or supplements can actually decrease the intensity of your hypothyroidism medication, causing it not to work for you as it normally would? Working with your primary care provider will help you to get the best treatment possible for this thyroid condition.
How To Prevent Hypothyroidism
Although many of the causes of hypothyroidism cannot be fully prevented, keeping your thyroid gland healthy is one of the best ways to protect yourself against this condition. The list below highlights three natural ways to keep your thyroid healthy and fight hypothyroidism:
1) Eat Foods That Enhance Thyroid Function: The B complex vitamins, iodine, iron and omega 3 essential fatty acids are all believed to enhance the function of the thyroid gland, allow it to produce more thyroid hormones and prevent hypothyroidism. Some of the best food sources of these nutrients include beef, dairy products and salmon.
2) Avoid Foods That Inhibit Thyroid Function: Some foods are bad for your thyroid gland and studies have shown that soy and many cruciferous vegetables can actually inhibit thyroid function when consumed in large quantities. These foods still have many other health benefits, so there’s no need to eliminate them from your diet completely. However, if you currently eat large amounts of these foods, you should moderate your consumption.
3) Exercise Regularly: According to Coach Calorie, high intensity exercise increases the amount of TSH in your blood stream. As discussed earlier in this article, TSH stimulates the production of T3 and T4 which means regular exercise could protect against hypothyroidism.