The thyroid is an important gland in the function of the human body. The NIH describes it this way:
"The thyroid is small but powerful. It affects your weight and nearly every organ in your body—your brain, your heart, lungs, and even your skin. When your thyroid produces too much or too little hormone, it can cause big health problems."
Clearly, then, the thyroid is an important gear in the Swiss watch that is the human body. Unfortunately, having a thyroid condition is not uncommon these days. The American Thyroid Association says that following "more that 12 percent of the U.S. population will develop a thyroid condition during their lifetime."
- An estimated 20 million Americans have some form of thyroid disease.
- Up to 60 percent of those with thyroid disease are unaware of their condition.
- women are five to eight times more likely than men to have thyroid problems.
- One woman in eight will develop a thyroid disorder during her lifetime.
- Most thyroid cancers respond to treatment, although a small percentage can be very aggressive.
- Undiagnosed thyroid disease may put patients at risk for certain serious conditions, such as cardiovascular diseases, osteoporosis and infertility.
- Pregnant women with undiagnosed or inadequately treated hypothyroidism have an increased risk of miscarriage, preterm delivery, and severe developmental problems in their children.
Some Common Thyroid Conditions:
- Goiter - A goiter (GOI-tur) is the irregular growth of the thyroid gland. A goiter may be an overall enlargement of the thyroid, or it may be the result of irregular cell growth that forms one or more lumps (nodules) in the thyroid. A goiter may be associated with no change in thyroid function or with an increase or decrease in thyroid hormones.
- Hyperthyroidism - Hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid) occurs when your thyroid gland produces too much of the hormone thyroxine. Hyperthyroidism can accelerate your body’s metabolism, causing unintentional weight loss and a rapid or irregular heartbeat. hypothyroidism, or underactive thyroid, happens when your thyroid gland doesn’t make enough thyroid hormones to meet your body’s needs.
- Thyroid cancer - Thyroid cancer is a disease in which malignant (cancer) cells form in the tissues of the thyroid gland. Thyroid nodules are solid or fluid-filled lumps that form within your thyroid, a small gland located at the base of your neck, just above your breastbone.
- Thyroiditis - Thyroiditis is the swelling, or inflammation, of the thyroid gland and can lead to over or under-production of thyroid hormone.
Most Thyroid Conditions are not Just Thyroid Conditions
Because the thyroid impacts so many organs and systems, it’s not as easy as just saying you have a thyroid condition. If you have hypothyroidism, your thyroid is making fewer hormones than normal. In this way, it is telling whichever organ or system those hormones impact to slow down or stop what those hormones encourage it to do. This would mean that the thyroid isn’t having the problem–it’s the fact that that organ or system is overactive, and the thyroid is telling it to slow down.
This once again comes full circle–the body is like a finely-tuned Swiss watch. One gear or system *always* affect the others. Just because the results are shown in the thyroid, doesn’t mean it’s the thyroid that has a problem. This is especially true because most doctors measure only one or two hormone levels most common (TSH) isn’t even a thyroid hormone, but a brain hormone that talks to the thyroid.
This is why there are people that can be on thyroid medication and not feel like it’s doing anything. This is also why your doctor may tell you that your thyroid is normal, but you still deal with the symptoms. See if any of these sound familiar.
- excessive weight gain/loss
- feeling cold
- muscle weakness/joint aches
- hair loss
- fluctuations in heart rate
- dry and itchy skin
- difficulties concentrating or remembering
- heavy/irregular periods
- lack of focus
- increase in blood cholesterol
- impaired memory
If a lot of thyroid conditions are from a different gland or system, how do you tell?
As always, our first suggestion here at the Wellness Way is to get tested–your hormones, allergies, and our thyroid panel. Allergies will often result in inflammation, which is where most health issues come from. Many of those health issues coincide with symptoms of thyroid conditions–fatigue, itchiness, aches and pains, brain fog, swellings, and many more hidden areas.
Bring down the inflammation in your body from places you may not expect it to be coming from–your food, drinking water, and the air around you. Your body won’t have to work as hard to fight the toxins within, giving your immune system a rest. A fatigued immune system is the cause of many autoimmune disorders - Graves and Hashimotos being two that target the thyroid. If your immune system and organs aren’t working so hard to fight those toxins and can rebalance, the thyroid won’t have to produce uncommon levels of hormone. Give your thyroid support it needs by helping it not need to work as hard.
To learn more about your thyroid, check out Doctor Flynn’s series on it here. Find out more ways to give your thyroid support and reduce your body’s immune response and inflammation by coming into a Wellness Way clinic near you and getting tested today.