Hair and Skin Problems? Weight issues? Fatigue? Check Your Thyroid!
Check your thyroid!
Thyroid problems - which can cause a wide range of symptoms - are very common with more than 20 million Americans having been diagnosed with a thyroid condition. And here's the kicker - experts believe many more people suffer from the disease yet go undiagnosed. Why? Most people have little to no knowledge of what their thyroid is or does normally, let alone what happens when there's a problem with it. Unfortunate too, because doctors rarely check for thyroid disease unless prompted.
Mary Shomon, author and thyroid patient advocate would like to see this change.
"Even with the efforts of the past decade, we still have a long way to go in terms of thyroid awareness. People are struggling with obesity, depression, infertility, menopausal symptoms, low libido, high cholesterol, osteoporosis, and many other issues, and yet the majority of Americans have never had a thorough thyroid checkup. If properly informed, diagnosed and treated, some of these people would feel and live well, because they will discover that their symptoms were actually due to overlooked and untreated thyroid problems all along!"
The thyroid is butterfly-shaped gland located in the neck. Like other glands, the thyroid's job is to secrete hormones that are delivered throughout the body. In the case of the thyroid gland, these hormones help to regulate body temperature and metabolism (the process that determines how much energy you take in and use). The thyroid is extremely important to the normal function of a multitude of body systems, so when it goes wrong, serious problems can develop. They all start with too little or too much thyroid hormone secretion.
Hypothyroidism (Slow or Underactive Thyroid)
Hypothyroidism is the most common thyroid problem and effectively slows down normal body processes. It can be caused by a number of conditions including a missing or underdeveloped thyroid, a surgical thyroid removal, radiation therapy, drugs, insufficient nutrients, nodules (lumps on the thyroid), infections, or atrophy. The most common cause is Hashimotoi's thyroiditis - an autoimmune disease.
To treat the condition, doctors normally prescribe drugs to replace missing hormones, though some patients prefer to use a natural alternative, desiccated thyroid. Hypothyroidism is one of the most commonly misdiagnosed conditions because of patients' unfamiliarity with the condition.
Symptoms can be wide-ranging and seemingly unrelated, and include:
- Brittle Nails
- Cold Intolerance and Low Body Temperature
- Dry, Coarse, Scaly Skin
- Facial Puffiness
- Frequent Yawning
- Frequently Sick
- Hair that is Dry, Coarse, Brittle, Breaking, and Falling Out
- Heavy or Irregular Menstrual Periods
- Hoarse, Gravelly Voice
- Joint Pain
- Low Blood Pressure
- Memory Problems
- Mood Swings
- Tiredness, Fatigue
- Trouble Conceiving
- Trouble Thinking Clearly
- Weight Gain
Chances of developing a hypothyroid condition increase with age, and hypothyroidism is more common in women than in men. Risk also increases with diabetes, vitiligo, pernicious anemia, smoking,frequent stress, or prematurely grey hair.
Hyperthyroidism (Overactive Thyroid)
Hyperthyroidism is condition in which the thyroid creates an overabundance in thyroid hormones, resulting in the speeding up of body processes. Hyperthyroidism can be caused by nodules or lumps on the thyroid emitting extra hormone, an overdosage of thyroid hormone replacement drugs, or infection, but it is most commonly caused by Grave's Disease, another autoimmune disorder.
To treat the hyperthyroidism, doctors will conventionally use radioactive treatments to disable the thyroid, which means the patient will become hypothyroid and will require thyroid hormone replacement drugs. However, others are now prescribing anti-thyroid drugs, or thyroid removal in rare cases, with the hope of avoiding radiation. Why trade one condition for the other? Hyperthyroid is harder to control than hypothyroid, and carries the added risk of heart attack if left untreated.
Common symptoms of hyperthyroid include:
- Aching Joints
- Diarrhea or Increased Bowel Movements
- Difficulty Concentrating, Memory Problems
- Excessive Hair Loss
- Exercise Intolerance
- Eye Problems, Feelings of Grittiness, Easily Irritated, Puffy or Bulging Eyes
- Feeling Excessively Hot
- Frequent Urination
- High Blood Pressure
- Increased Appetite
- Increased Sweating
- Jumpiness, Tremors
- Mood Swings
- Muscle Weakness
- Nails that Split and Break
- Rapid Weight Loss
- Rapid Heart Beat
- Restlessness, Constant Foot Tapping
- Skin Changes - may cause a range of skin changes, from increased acne, increased vein visibility (especially around eyes), bruising, may even make skin smoother due to rapid cell turnover.
Hyperthyroid is most common in those with a family history of thyroid problems, and most commonly appears in women in their 20ï¿½s. Smoking also increases risk of developing the condition, and eye problems tend to be more severe in hyperthyroid patients that smoke.
Help Your Thyroid
If you suspect that your thyroid is out of balance, schedule an appointment with your physician. Not only can you finally get relief from a number of unpleasant, confusing symptoms, but you may also prevent a more serious health condition from occurring in the future. Additionally, you may want to check in with a holistic health practitioner who can help you make lifestyle changes to support your thyroid and overall health. Sure, you are relieved to know the "root cause" of all those symptoms, but what is causing the thyroid imbalance? It's interesting to note that the main causes of under- and overactive thyroid are both autoimmune diseases. Holistic health practitioners have an excellent way of looking at the big picture, and may have some helpful hints to naturally normalize your immune system and encourage a normal thyroid as well.