The thyroid gland is responsible for many functions in the body, from metabolism to hormone regulation. Thyroid disorders can range from harmless enlargement of the gland (goiter) that requires no treatment to life-threatening cancer. The most common thyroid problems involve abnormal production of thyroid hormone. Hyperthyroidism results from too much thyroid hormone, while hypothyroidism results from a lack of sufficient thyroid hormones. Although the symptoms can be unpleasant, most thyroid problems can be well-managed if properly diagnosed and treated.
What Causes Thyroid Issues?
All types of hyperthyroidism are due to an increased production of thyroid hormone, but there are several reasons that this can occur.
- Graves Disease: the thyroid produces too much thyroid hormone.
- Toxic Adenomas: the development of nodules in the thyroid gland leads to an excess secretion of thyroid hormones.
- Subacute Thyroiditis: inflammation of the thyroid causes the gland to secrete excess hormones.
- Cancerous Growths: although rare, cancerous growths can cause an excess of thyroid hormones to be produced.
Hypothyroidism, on the other hand, results from an underproduction of thyroid hormone. Causes of hypothyroidism include:
- Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis: an autoimmune disorder in which the body attacks the thyroid tissue and disrupts thyroid hormone production.
- Removal of the thyroid gland: thyroid hormone production is impaired with the surgical removal or chemical destruction of the thyroid.
- Medications and Dyes: some over-the-counter and prescription medications, as well as certain contrast dyes given before imaging procedures, can disrupt the thyroid function.
If you have been experiencing any of the following symptoms, you may have a problem with the functioning of your thyroid:
- Weight Gain or Loss
- Mood Swings
- Brain Fog
- Memory Difficulties
- Joint Pain or Stiffness
- Sensitivity to Cold
- Heart Palpitations
- Dry Skin
- Thinning Hair
- Irregular Menses
Appropriate lab testing is crucial to ensuring proper treatment. Many physicians only test TSH and, unfortunately, this does not provide a full picture of what is occurring with your thyroid. TSH, free T4, free T3, thyroid antibodies, reverse T3, and T3 uptake are all labs that your doctor should consider ordering if you have the aforementioned symptoms.
Successful Thyroid Treatment
Thyroid treatment should be individualized for each patient. Prescription thyroid medications may need to be utilized to provide appropriate levels of thyroid hormone and one type of medication may work better than another for each unique person. Appropriate dietary and lifestyle changes, as well as nutrient or botanical supplementation, may be necessary to support thyroid function. It is important that you seek treatment from an experienced physician to ensure that you receive the best possible care for your thyroid management.
I work with many patients suffering from thyroid dysfunction and offer complete thyroid diagnostic testing, diagnosis, and treatment to support and optimize thyroid function. If you have been experiencing any of the above symptoms, or have concerns about your thyroid health, I invite you to schedule an appointment or free 15-minute meet-and-greet consult today!