Learn a little about Managing Your Thyroid Disorder
Knowledge is power, especially when it comes to the body. The more we learn about the body, the better we can take control of the challenges it may present. For instance, the thyroid plays a significant role in the body by regulating metabolism, core temperature, and more. However, sometimes it can cause illnesses that are confusing and frightening, like Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis or Hypothyroidism. In this article, we’ll discuss the significant role of the thyroid in our body’s overall health.
What is the thyroid?
This butterfly-shaped gland is located in the front of our neck below the adam’s apple, and is responsible for motivating metabolism, growth, and the development of human organs.
The thyroid is a critical conductor of hormones, particularly, thyroxine (T4), Triiodothyronine (T3), and Calcitonin, and works closely with the brain to produce and regulate them.
How does thyroid dysfunction affect the body?
Let’s start with an example. It’s a beautiful spring day, so you throw on a windbreaker to take a walk. When you open the door and step outside, you find that the temperature feels bone-chilling cold. You check the thermometer and find that it’s sixty degrees, but it certainly doesn’t feel like it.
For a person with hypothyroidism, Hashimoto’s disease, or other autoimmune thyroid disorders, cold intolerance is a result of a thyroid that is under-stimulated by the pituitary gland. Persons with thyroid disorders may wake up with tight muscles, feel fatigued throughout the day, and suddenly develop new allergies due to inflammation.
How else does Thyroid Dysfunction affect our health?
For one, the thyroid gland is responsible for producing and releasing the T3 hormone. This hormone plays an essential role in metabolism- the process in which food is converted into energy. A well-functioning metabolism doesn’t just help us keep weight off, it also helps prevent us from feeling one of the most common symptoms of hypothyroidism and other thyroid disorders: fatigue.
In addition to its role in regulating metabolism, the thyroid gland is responsible for stimulating the growth of bones and other organs. For women, thyroid dysfunction leads to irregular menstrual cycles or even the complete disappearance of them. Furthermore, the thyroid helps regulate our heartbeats and works in tandem with the central and peripheral nervous systems to regulate cholesterol levels. As you can see, the thyroid plays quite a big role in the health of our entire bodies.
When should you see your doctor?
You may consider seeing your doctor to have thyroid tests completed if you are experiencing any number of these symptoms to an abnormal degree:
- You are experiencing depression, memory issues, nervousness, or irritability, and you’re not sure why.
- Your cholesterol levels test higher than usual.
- You suddenly lose or gain a lot of weight or experience uncomfortable gastrointestinal issues.
- You are almost always fatigued, or, you cannot seem to catch any sleep.
- Your muscles and joints seem persistently weak, tender, stiff, or sore.
- You are exceedingly sensitive to cold or heat and sweat a lot.
- Your menstrual cycles are abnormal.
- Your hair is thinning, brittle, or dry and your skin seems puffy or thin.
- You notice changes in your voice. Your voice feels hoarse, or like there’s a lump stuck inside of it.
What to expect when having thyroid tests done:
Two common thyroid tests that your doctor may order are the T4 and T3 tests. Both tests will require your blood to be drawn, although no special preparations on your behalf are needed.
The T4 hormone is the primary hormone produced by the thyroid gland, and responsible for metabolism, mood, body temperature, and much more. T4 carries an additional Iodine atom that is removed by the liver and is then converted into T3 to be used by the pituitary gland. A T4 test will therefore detect any issues with the thyroid gland or the pituitary gland.
T3 tests are taken to detect hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism as a result of heightened or lowered levels of T3. A patient with thyroid disorders may not notice any symptoms of thyroid dysfunction until much later, so the T3 test will determine early on if hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism is present.
The incredible affect healthy eating has on thyroid health:
According to Ashita Gupta, MD, an integrative endocrinologist at Mount Sinai West in New York City, “Seventy percent of our autoimmune system is found in our intestines, known as GALT, or gut-associated lymphoid tissue.”
Gupta continues, “When the intestinal lining becomes inflamed, it can trigger an immune response. Studies show that this plays a role in the development of thyroid disease.” In other words, keeping your gut happy and healthy is one of, if not the best way to protect your thyroid from developing a disease or disorder.
One should always seek medical guidance before taking supplements for thyroid health or making drastic changes to their diet. Regardless of whether one is experiencing thyroid dysfunction or not, including thyroid-healthy recipes into our diets, like this egg salad, is a simple yet delicious way to proactively protect the ever-important thyroid gland.