Did you know that the American Thyroid Association (ATA) has estimated that 20 million Americans have some form of thyroid disease? The Thyroid may not be the first thing you think about when you think of illness or when your body has gone out of balance.
Maybe that’s why the ATA estimates that 60% of people with thyroid disease don’t even know they have it. The symptoms associated with thyroid issues look a lot like non-thyroid causes like aging, menopause, or depression. Some of these symptoms include:
- Feeling unusually tired
- Weight gain even though you have been maintaining a healthy diet and exercise habits
- Feeling more nervous and irritable than you have in the past
- Slower digestion and possible constipation
- Feeling apathetic or depressed
- Cold hands and feet
- Persistent dry skin
- Brittle nails that easily break
If you’ve been experiencing any of these symptoms but have been blowing them off as just part of “getting older”, you may want to reassess that approach and have your Thyroid checked.
The Thyroid: What It Is and What It Does
Your Thyroid is a small butterfly-shaped organ located in the neck just below your Adam’s apple. Even though it usually weighs less than a single ounce, the thyroid gland is a big player in our body’s function. It regulates energy, metabolism, weight, body temperature, mood, bowel function, skin, and hair growth.
When working optimally, you can’t feel the Thyroid under the skin. If you can feel or see an enlarged thyroid (a goiter), this may point to underlying thyroid issues.
Groups That are High Risk for Thyroid Issues
Thyroid issues are one of the most commonly diagnosed medical conditions in America. Thyroid issues are non-discriminatory. They can affect people of all ages and races. Certain groups, however, are at a higher risk for developing thyroid problems, including:
- Individuals over the age of 60
- People who suffer from autoimmune diseases, like type 1 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, and lupus.
- Individuals under a large amount of chronic stress
The Cause of Thyroid Issues
The leading cause of thyroid issues stems from a change in hormone levels. The thyroid gland absorbs iodine from the bloodstream and combines it with an amino acid to create thyroid hormones. Thyroxine (referred to as T4) is a relatively inactive prohormone and Triiodothyronine (referred to as T3) is a highly active hormone.
Collectively T3 and T4 are referred to as the Thyroid hormones. The thyroid gland produces just 20% T3 and 80% of T4. Enzymes in other tissues like the liver or kidneys can transform T4 into the active hormone T3.
The Thyroid gland also contains other hormone-producing cells called C-cells. These cells produce calcitonin, which regulates calcium and phosphate levels in the blood, which are crucial for bone health and maintenance.
The pituitary gland controls the release of thyroid hormones by excreting TSH (thyroid stimulation hormone). If your thyroid levels are low, the pituitary gland makes more TSH. When thyroid levels are high, the pituitary gland produces less TSH. TSH levels that are not within normal range indicate that your Thyroid isn’t working correctly.
If you want to get to know the Thyroid better, check out this article.
Hyperthyroidism: The Overachieving Thyroid
When your Thyroid gland is overactive, it produces more thyroid hormones than your body needs. This condition is called hyperthyroidism. Symptoms of hypothyroidism include:
- Weight loss
- Heart palpitations
- Stomach upset and diarrhea
- Sweating, often excessive
- Extreme hunger
- Intolerance for heat
Hypothyroidism: The Underachieving Thyroid
If you have an underactive thyroid, it doesn’t produce enough thyroid hormones. This presents an entirely different yet equally frustrating set of symptoms, including:
- Sensitivity to cold
- Fatigue/extreme tiredness
- Weight gain and/or difficulty losing weight
- Dry hair/hair loss
Subclinical Thyroid Issues
Some people may suffer from subclinical hypothyroidism, which is a milder form of hypothyroidism. This condition is slightly different from the standard hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism in that it carries an elevated TSH level but normal free T3 and T4 values. Hashimoto’s disease is often related to subclinical thyroid issues.
Advanced forms of thyroid disease occur for several reasons and can put you at risk of contracting thyroid cancer. That’s why regular testing is so important.
Testing for Thyroid Issues
It is essential to get a full panel of thyroid tests for the complete picture of your thyroid health.
If you are a woman who gets annual well-woman exams, then you are probably used to having your thyroid levels tested as part of your lab work. However, most physicians only rely on thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) testing to measure thyroid function, and TSH tests only gauge one aspect of thyroid health. It is also essential to measure the actual output of your thyroid gland by testing T4 and T3 levels.
Checking for thyroid antibodies is also recommended because they can cause an autoimmune attack on your Thyroid, resulting in symptoms of thyroid dysfunction.
Thyroid Treatment: A Holistic Approach
At Nava Health & Vitality Center, we go beyond traditional TSH testing. We take a deep dive into your medical history, family history, and symptoms. We also conduct a battery of thyroid tests covering all the bases as it has been designed to pinpoint any potential thyroid issues. Our advanced data interpretation techniques help us accurately assess your thyroid function and determine which therapies will lead to the best health outcomes.
Depending on our findings, we will create a customized approach to your thyroid imbalance issues. This treatment plan may include specially compounded prescription drugs, premium-grade nutraceuticals, or Hormone Replacement Therapy. Nutritional counseling with one of our experienced Clinical Nutritionists may also help you explore how dietary and lifestyle changes can reset your thyroid imbalance.
You don’t have to settle for feeling less than your best. With the right approach, you can alleviate thyroid imbalance issues and regain your energy and spark. Get in touch with one of our caring, professional Certified Wellness Consultants today to learn about Nava Center’s holistic approach to achieving thyroid balance and overall wellness.
Schedule your appointment and start Feeling Your Best Today!