What is Thyroid Gland?
The thyroid gland is a butterfly-shaped endocrine gland located in the base of your neck. It is responsible for releasing hormones, namely thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3), which are necessary in controlling the body’s metabolism. These hormones help regulate many vital body functions such as breathing, heart rate, and body temperature. There are a number of problems that may arise when the T3 and T4 produced are too low or too high.
What Causes Thyroid Problems
Thyroid problems, which is technically called hyperthyroidism, can be caused by an overproduction of thyroid hormones in the thryoid glands. However, this condition can occur in different forms, including:
- Graves' disease, which is the overproduction of thyroid hormone
- Toxic adenomas, where nodules develop in the thyroid gland that begin to secrete thyroid hormones that upsets the chemical balance of the body
- Subacute thyroiditis, which is a condition characterized by the inflammation of the thyroid that causes the gland to "leak" excess hormones that results in temporary hyperthyroidism that generally lasts a few weeks but may persist for months
- Pituitary gland malfunctions or cancerous growths in the thyroid gland
In contrast, hypothyroidism, which is another form of thyroid problem, is caused by the 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, which is an autoimmune disorder, where the body attacks thyroid tissue causing them to die and stops producing hormones
- Removal of the thyroid gland
- Exposure to excessive amounts of iodide through cold and sinus medicines, the heart medicine amiodarone, or certain contrast dyes given before some X-rays
Thyroid Problems Symptoms
Natasha Zervaas, a naturopath and owner of Green Secrets Holistic Health Clinic, explores the top ten signs and symptoms that you may be having a thyroid problem.
Your thyroid could be to blame if you wake up in the morning feeling tired or lethargic despite having eight or more hours of sleep, or the desire of regularly feeling the need for a daytime nap.
Difficulty in losing weight even when you are following a strict diet can be a sign of experiencing metabolic dysfunction. The same goes for unexplained weight loss.
Anxiety and/or Depression
Hyperthyroidism (an overactive thyroid gland) is often associated with anxiety and panic attacks while hypothyroidism (an underactive gland) is commonly linked to depression.
Elevated cholesterol levels, especially if the levels cannot be lowered by diet, medication or exercise, may indicate problems with the thyroid gland.
Your chances of acquiring or developing thyroid health issues are greatly increased if any of your direct family members have had any same issues.
Prostate, breast or ovarian cysts such as polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) with infrequent or absent periods. Heavier, more frequent and painful periods are commonly seen with an underactive thyroid gland. Shorter, lighter or irregular periods are often linked to a hyperactive gland.
Diarrhoea can be an indication of hyperthyroidism whereas long term constipation can mean hypothyroidism.
Hair and skin problems
If you are losing hair (particularly at the outer corners of your eyebrows) and your skin feels dry and coarse.
If your neck feels sore and tight or you are feeling like there is something ‘stuck in your throat’, you may be developing a goitre which is an enlarged, swollen thyroid gland.
A dysfunctioning thyroid gland is the most common cause of many autoimmune disorders such as diabetes or rheumatoid arthritis. Other disorders that have been associated with your thyroid gland are muscle pains and aches, carpal tunnel syndrome, and plantar fasciitis.
|When not writing informative articles like this one, Natasha Zervaas also works as a qualified naturopath for Green Secrets Holistic Health Clinic in Berwick Victoria. For more information about Natasha, check out their website.|
Updated: 12 April 2019
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