Located at the front of your neck, the thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland. Glands are organs that can be found all over your body. Glands create and release hormones — substances that help your body function and grow.
A well-functioning thyroid gland is essential for normal health and wellbeing. Its job is to make thyroid hormones, which are carried in the bloodstream to tissues around the body.
The thyroid gland plays a big part in many of your body’s main functions. Your thyroid gland regulates your body temperature and controls your heart rate and metabolism. Thyroid hormone helps the body use energy and stay warm. It also keeps the brain, heart, muscles, and other organs working as they should.
The main hormones made by the thyroid include triiodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine (T4). The pituitary gland in your brain communicates to the thyroid to make T3 and T4 through sending Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH).
When your thyroid gland is working correctly, your body is in balance and all of your systems function properly. If your thyroid stops working in the way it’s meant to — creating too much or too little of thyroid hormones — it can impact your entire body.
In the US, it is estimated that 12% of the population will develop a thyroid condition during their lifetime. The incidence of thyroid dysfunction (particularly hypothyroidism) tends to increase with age.
Hypothyroidism is when the thyroid is underactive, and the gland is not producing enough thyroid hormones; often triggering the pituitary gland to produce more TSH. It can upset the normal balance of chemical reactions in the body causing a variety of symptoms. If left untreated it can lead to obesity, joint pain, infertility and heart disease.
It is estimated that 60% of people with hypothyroidism have the autoimmune condition, Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis. In this disorder, your immune system attacks the thyroid. This makes the thyroid create too little thyroid hormone.
Underactive thyroid is sometimes referred to as a “silent” disease because the early symptoms develop slowly over many years and may be so mild that they go unnoticed. The symptoms can also closely resemble those produced by other medical conditions, especially in the elderly and those with depression.
Symptoms of Hypothyroidism
Adults who develop an underactive thyroid will probably have more than one of the following symptoms:
- Weakness, lethargy, fatigue
- Weight gain or difficulty losing weight
- Lack of appetite
- Thinning or coarse, dry hair
- Brittle nails
- Dry, coarse skin
- Intolerance to cold
- Muscle cramps
- Depression or irritability
- Altered menstrual cycles
- Poor memory
- Loss of sex drive
- Bradycardia (slow heartbeat)
- An enlarged thyroid gland (goitre)
These symptoms will vary in severity depending on the extent and duration of the thyroid condition.
Hyperthyroidism is a condition where your thyroid creates and releases more hormones to your body than you need. This is also called an overactive thyroid. “Hyper” means something that’s fast or full of a lot of energy. When you have hyperthyroidism, the extra hormones can speed up your metabolism.
When you have hyperthyroidism, your metabolism is launched into high-speed. This might cause you to feel your heart beating faster, experience anxiety and nervousness, and have an increased appetite.
What are the symptoms of hyperthyroidism?
There are many symptoms of hyperthyroidism and they can impact your entire body. You may experience some of these symptoms and not others, or many of them at the same time.
Symptoms of hyperthyroidism can include:
- Rapid heartbeat (palpitations)
- Feeling shaky, nervous
- Weight loss
- Increased appetite
- Diarrhoea and more frequent bowel movements
- Double vision
- Thin skin
- Menstrual changes
- Intolerance to heat and excessive sweating
- Sleep issues
- Swelling and enlargement of the neck from an enlarged thyroid gland (goiter)
- Hair loss and change in hair texture (brittle)
- Bulging of the eyes (seen with Graves’ disease)
- Muscle weakness
Graves’ disease is the most common cause of hyperthyroidism, making up about 85% of cases. Graves’ disease: In this disorder, your immune system attacks the thyroid. This makes the thyroid create too much thyroid hormone. Graves’ disease is a hereditary condition (passed down through a family). If a member of your family has Graves’ disease, there’s a chance others in the family could have it too. It’s more common in women than men.
How I can help
I have had great success helping clients with Thyroid conditions improve their thyroid function and overall health, enabling them to thrive in life. I focus on making gentle changes to diet and lifestyle.
The thyroid gland is part of our endocrine system. I take a full body approach to healing involving not only supporting your full endocrine system, but also your digestive system, cardio system and brain function.
I help clients restore their thyroid function by focusing on decreasing stress, increasing nutrients and bringing the body back into balance, Working with clients with thyroid conditions requires a personalised approach. I educate clients about their blood test results and the many ways we can improve thyroid function through a gentle approach to diet and lifestyle changes.
If you suffer from the symptoms of hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism or have been diagnosed with a thyroid condition, please do book in for an Initial Consultation to discuss how I can help.
Remember: “Pain is not normal”