According to Thyroid.org, an estimated 20 million people in the United States have a thyroid disease. And, women are five to eight times more likely than men to have thyroid problems. Even more concerning? Up to 60 percent of those with a thyroid disease are unaware of their condition. It’s no surprise, then, that Thyroid Awareness Month is recognized every January.
Because the symptoms of thyroid disorders can often be mistaken as nothing or something else, we put together a list of everything you need to know about thyroid health.
What is the Thyroid?
At the base of your neck, there is a small 2-inch, butterfly-shaped gland; this is your thyroid. While your thyroid may be small, it plays a large role in your endocrine system – the system that encompasses all the glands in your body that make hormones and act as chemical messengers to ensure your body functions as it should.
The thyroid’s job is to regulate your body’s metabolism, which turns the food you eat into energy. Your thyroid produces two different types of hormones to keep your metabolism running at peak performance.
T-3 and T-4 Hormones
T-3 and T-4 hormones are released by your thyroid into the bloodstream. Just as the endocrine system, the pituitary gland works together with the thyroid to tell it how much of the T-3 and T-4 hormones to release into the blood system. Concerns about your thyroid can arise if the amount of the T-3 and T-4 hormones become imbalanced.
What Does it Mean to Have a Thyroid Imbalance?
A thyroid imbalance results when your thyroid produces too few or too many hormones. When your thyroid becomes imbalanced, it affects your:
- Depth of breath
- Body temperature
- Cholesterol levels
- Menstrual cycles
An imbalance can lead to several thyroid diseases including hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism. Read on to learn more.
Hypothyroidism, or an underactive thyroid, occurs when your body is making too little of the thyroid hormones your body needs to function.
Hypothyroidism symptoms include:
- Slower heartbeat
- Sensitivity to cold
- Dry skin
- Thinning hair
- Weight gain
- Heavy periods
A common factor of hypothyroidism is Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, an autoimmune disease in which the immune system attacks the body’s own tissues. In this case, it is attacking one’s thyroid. The assault on the thyroid is what often leads to hypothyroidism. Hashimoto’s disease is the most common thyroid disorder in the United States, affecting 14 million people alone, according to endocrineweb.com.
When your thyroid is making too many of the necessary hormones, the result is hyperthyroidism.
Hyperthyroidism symptoms include:
- Rapid heart heat
- Sensitivity to heat
- Tremors in hands or fingers
- Weight Loss
- Light periods
- Brittle hair
Often the cause of hyperthyroidism, Graves’ disease is a common immune system disorder that affects women 40 and under. While Graves’ disease is not well understood, risk factors often include:
- Family medical history
- Several autoimmune diseases
Thyroid Depression and Anxiety
Depression and anxiety are often associated with a thyroid dysfunction. If you’re feeling down or anxious, it is recommended to have your thyroid checked. Your thyroid levels play a large role in your mood regulation. Often when reporting symptoms of depression or anxiety, the thyroid can be forgotten as an influencing factor. If you’ve been diagnosed with depression or anxiety, but continue to experience other symptoms listed above, it could be your thyroid.
Call the Kaldas Center
Your thyroid health is important to your overall wellbeing. If you suspect that it’s not just depression or anxiety, call the Kaldas Center at (920) 886-2299 or visit our website to learn more about thyroid dysfunctions and how we can help.