Overactive metabolism? Underactive metabolism? Did you know that a small butterfly-shaped gland at the base of the neck is responsible for not only your metabolism, but also regulates your body’s response to internal and environmental stimuli?
The thyroid gland is responsible for producing thyroid hormone, a hormone that is used in generating responses from other organs including increasing heart rate and speeding up/slowing down digestive processes.
Most thyroid disorders are caused by autoimmune conditions, where the body starts to attack the thyroid gland, and either causes the thyroid gland to either increase or decrease the production of thyroid hormones.
Many thyroid conditions start slowly and generally build up over time.
The symptoms of thyroid disorders can be common symptoms of other illnesses or conditions, and do not always indicate a thyroid disorder.
- Anxiousness, agitation, nervousness
- Rapid or irregular heart rate
- Weight loss or the inability to gain weight
- Hand tremors
- Sensitivity to heat
- Trouble sleeping
- Swelling of the legs/ankles
- Weight gain
- Sensitivity/intolerance to cold
- Decreased sweating
- Puffiness of the face
In order to diagnose and treat a thyroid disorder, doctors will take a family history and run several tests depending upon the type of thyroid disorder being considered. Often multiple blood tests will be run to accurately diagnose any irregularities in thyroid hormone levels. Once your doctor receives the test results, treatment can include medication, treatment with radioactive iodine, or surgery can be implemented to help return thyroid levels back down to a normal range or in the case of hypothyroidism, raised to normal functional ranges.
Why This topic?
As someone who has suffered from hyperthyroidism for the past few years, and also having friends who are dealing with hypothyroidism, I feel that it is important to both educate and help anyone who feels as though something may be off with their health. For years I struggled with putting on weight regardless of what my diet entailed, and struggled with both rapid heart rate and chest pains while at rest, and it wasn’t until a close family member discovered that they had a thyroid condition that the pieces of the puzzle started to come together. Thankfully, the sooner that a thyroid disorder is diagnosed, like many other illnesses, the sooner an effective treatment can be put into place and recovery can start.
Source: The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases