Hypothyroidism is a disease that affects the thyroid gland. It occurs when the thyroid gland, located at the base of the neck, produces too little thyroid hormone. It may even produce no thyroid hormone at all. Why does this happen?
This can happen for any number of reasons. Some people produce low levels of thyroid hormones, or their thyroid gland may be damaged from a surgery or accident. Other individuals may have an illness or be exposed to environmental toxins through food and every day life that causes their thyroid gland to become underactive. Still others may take medications that cause their thyroid gland to produce too little thyroid hormones.
In some cases, people have an autoimmune condition where the body’s own immune system attacks the thyroid gland causing hypothyroidism. This often results in a condition known as Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism.
What Are The Thyroid Hormones?
Thyroid hormones are a group of hormones that regulate certain body processes including fat metabolism, breathing, heart rate, body temperature regulation, and may other processes including things related to our nervous system and mood.
If our thyroid hormones are not functioning properly we may gain weight and have trouble losing it, you may suffer from anxiety, hairloss, severe fatigue, memory loss, brain fog, cold hands and feet to name a few symptoms. Thyroid hormones including thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH), T3, T4, reverse T3 and thyroid antibodies. If any of these is underactive or overactive, you are not likely to feel your best.
What Are Symptoms Of Hypothyroid Disease?
There are many symptoms of hypothyroid disease. The disease often mimics common feelings of general malaise, so doctors often miss diagnosing the condition leaving you with debilitating symptoms and no path to wellness.
Some common signs and symptoms of thyroid disease include:
– Mental fog
– Feeling too cold or intolerance to cold
– Mood changes
– Brittle hair and nails
– Weight gain or inability to lose weight
– Heart rate changes
– Difficulty concentrating
Of course there are many other symptoms. Anyone can become affected by hypothyroidism, although it affects women more often than men. Even some children can develop or be born with hypothyroidism, which is becoming more common with our current diet and high levels of exposure to environmental toxins.
Diagnosis And Treatment For Hypothyroidism
Diagnosis and treatment for the disease is straightforward for most patients, although this is not always the case. Many healthcare providers do not think to test for thyroid disease when a patient complains of fatigue or weight gain, because these symptoms are so common today and so many people have these complaints. Unfortunately untreated hypothyroidism is very debilitating and can lead to serious health consequences. Testing for thyroid disease should become a more standard practice, because so many lives could be changed by treatment.
Diagnosis is simple. All a health provider needs to do is take a simple blood test which measures levels of thyroid hormones. Sometimes a patient may have borderline thyroid disease meaning their lab values are almost normal or just at the lowest level of the normal ranges for the disease.
When this happens, a health provider must decide whether or not to monitor or treat a patient. If a patient has all of the symptoms or complains of many symptoms of hypothyroidism a health provider may choose to treat the patient rather than elect a wait and see approach, because some sub clinical patients benefit from treatment in these instances.
In brief: treatment often involves diet and lifestyle changes, reducing exposure to environmental toxins, repleting nutritional deficiencies and learning stress management techniques .
All patients require proper diet and exercise to maintain ideal health. Your health provider will make the recommendations necessary to ensure ideal health and wellness. It is good to know that if you do discover that you have hypothyroidism, there are options for treatment. There are a wide variety of herbal and nutritional supplements available that can help to permanently balance your thyroid hormones and heal your thyroid.