Thyroid Problems: The Signs and Solutions

An estimated 200 million people suffer from thyroid problems worldwide. LetsGetChecked talks you through the signs and symptoms of thyroid related issues.


Contents


What Is The Thyroid Gland?


The thyroid is a small gland located in the middle of the lower neck. The male thyroid gland is located just below the Adam’s apple. The thyroid gland produces two thyroid hormones which are responsible for regulating metabolism, hair growth, breathing and heart rate.

If the thyroid isn't running optimally, neither are you.


Thyroid Problems: The Signs and Symptoms


  • Women are 5-8 times more likely to suffer from thyroid issues than men.
  • Upto 60% of those who suffer from thyroid issues are not aware that they have a thyroid condition.
  • Undiagnosed thyroid disease puts patients at risk for other ailments, such as cardiovascular diseases, osteoporosis and infertility.
  • The cause of thyroid problems are unknown.
  • Hypothyroidism, or an underactive thyroid is more common than hyperthyroidism, an overactive thyroid, however concrete numbers are difficult to decipher due to the large incidence of the disease being undiagnosed.
  • It is estimated that 20% of people will experience thyroid problems before they turn 60.

How Does The Thyroid Gland Work?


The function of the thyroid gland is to take iodine found in many foods and convert it into thyroid hormones: thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3)

The pituitary gland controls thyroid function. It is a small gland the size of a peanut at the base of the brain. When thyroxine and triiodothyronine hormones drop too low, the pituitary gland produces thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH). This stimulates the thyroid gland to produce more essential hormones.


Hyperthyroidism: Overactive Thyroid


Hyperthyroidism or overactive thyroid occurs when the thyroid gland produces an excessive level of thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3).

It's caused by:

  • The body absorbing too much iodine as a result of Graves’ disease (an immune-system disorder)
  • Inflammation of the thyroid due to infections
  • Tumours

Hyperthyroidism can be treated by surgery or medications that slow the thyroid down.

Symptoms of hyperthyroidism

  • Fatigue after sleeping 8 to 10 hours a night or needing to take a nap daily
  • Weight loss or the inability to gain weight
  • An intolerance to heat or excessive sweating
  • Increased bowel movements
  • Shaking or tremors
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Anxiety, lack of focus or brain fog
  • Sweating
  • Inability to relax
  • Irregular and light periods

Thyroid Problems: Hypothyroidism/Underactive Thyroid


Hypothyroidism works in the opposite way to hyperthyroidism. An under-active thyroid occurs when the gland does not secrete enough hormones. It’s usually due to:

  • Low levels of iodine and inflammation of the thyroid gland due to autoimmune reactions
  • Radiation exposure
  • Thyroiditis
  • Pregnancy

Symptoms of hypothyroidism

  • Unusual weight gain and poor appetite
  • Constipation
  • Feeling cold when others are not or having a body temperature consistently below 37 °C (98.5 °F)
  • Brain fog, poor concentration or memory
  • Neck swelling, snoring or hoarse voice
  • Muscle or joint pain, carpal tunnel syndrome or tendonitis.
  • Worsened PMS, irregular periods, infertility and low sex drive.
  • Mood disturbances such as mood swings, anxiety or depression.
  • Hair loss
  • Dry skin
  • Hoarse voice or sore throat
  • Poor hearing

Steps To Prevent Thyroid Problems


  • Identify and combat underlying causes of thyroid problems, such as food allergies, gluten, heavy metals, nutritional deficiencies and stress.
  • Support your thyroid with the correct nutrition, including foods that contain iodine, zinc, mega-3 fats and selenium.
  • Eliminate extreme tiredness with sufficient rest.
  • Minimize stress by engaging in daily relaxation rituals such as yoga, meditation and mindfulness.
  • Keep moving to stimulate the thyroid with cardiovascular or resistance based exercise.
  • Take supplements to enhance thyroid function. Vitamin D, zinc, iodine, omega-3 fats and selenium can help prevent thyroid problems.
  • Use the extreme heat from saunas to eliminate stored toxins, which interfere with thyroid function.
  • Thyroid hormone replacement therapy can also help support your thyroid gland.

Learn More About Thyroid Problems With Dr. Dominic Rowley


Read: Living with Hypothyroidism


Written by Hannah Kingston | Approved by Medical Director Dominic Rowley