According to the American Thyroid Organization an estimated 20 million Americans are suffering from some form of thyroid disease.
Thyroid issues are also more common in women with them being five to eight times greater than men to develop a condition.
About 12 and a half percent of women (1 out of 8) women will develop a thyroid disorder in her lifetime.
Just because you’re a man don’t think you’re off the hook. You still could have an issue with your thyroid and not know it.
Thyroid conditions are very serious because if left untreated they can put people at risk for a ton of health conditions like cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, and infertility in women.
Some are fortunate enough to have telltale signs that something is wrong but others see no signs or symptoms. This is the case for 60 percent of sufferers (1).
The Thyroid & Hormones
This butterfly shaped organ in the base of your neck works regulates body processes like breathing, heart rate, nervous system, metabolism, muscle strength, body temperature, and cholesterol levels.
The thyroid also produces, stores, and releases hormones into the bloodstream to be delivered to cells. These hormones are called Triiodothyronine (T3) and Thyroxine (T4). These hormones are made from the amino acid tyrosine and the mineral iodine which must be acquired through diet.
Hormone balance is important and the levels of these compounds should not be too HIGH or too LOW.
Production and secretion of thyroid hormones is controlled by the pituitary gland. When the brain senses thyroid hormone levels are too low or too high it will send out a hormone called thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) telling the thyroid to create or stop production of T3 and T4.
The pituitary gland is controlled by the hypothalamus in the brain. The hypothalamus produces TSH Releasing Hormone (TRH) to tell the pituitary to release TSH and get the thyroid to increase or decrease the level of T3 and T4 hormones in the blood.
THS will be released into the blood when T3 and T4 are LOW to tell the thyroid that body cells need more thyroid hormone. This will result in a LOWER heart rate and may cause constipation and weight gain.
The thyroid that does not produce enough T3 and T4 is considered UNDERACTIVE. It is also known as HYPOthyroidism. Symptoms include the following:
2.Dry hair, skin
3.Unexplainable weight gain
5.Muscle weakness and discomfort
7.Tiredness and fatigue
10.Sensitivity to cold temperature
11.Frequent, heavy periods
12.Joint and muscle pain
Hypothyroidism that goes undiagnosed or mismanaged can have serious consequences such as risk of miscarriage, pre-term delivery, and severe developmental issues in their children.
When T3 and T4 are too HIGH TSH production will decrease and thyroid will slow production of its hormones. This may result in a RAPID heart rate, diarrhea, and weight loss
A thyroid that is producing too much thyroid hormone is OVERACTIVE and known as HYPERthyroidism. Symptoms include the following:
14.Irritability or moodiness
17.Sweating or sensitivity to high temperatures
18.Hand trembling (shaking)
20.Missed or light menstrual periods
Aside from Hypo- and Hyperthyroidism, other thyroid conditions that you should be aware of are thyroiditis, Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, Grave’s Disease, iodine deficiency, and goiter.
Thyroiditis refers to any disorder resulting in inflammation of the thyroid. Some examples are Postpartum Thyroiditis. This occurs after labor resulting in temporary high levels of thyroid hormone followed by low levels which will eventually lead to hypothyroidism. Subacute thyroiditis is inflammation due to a virus. It causes pain in the thyroid and is accompanied by fever.
Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is the most common cause of hypothyroidism in the United States. This is a chronic autoimmune disease that occurs when the body’s own cells start to attack and destroy the thyroid gland. As the thyroid is attached less and less hormone will be produced.This condition tends to be hereditary and runs in families. While it is is seen mostly in middle aged women it may occur at any age and also can affect men and children.
This disease has also occurred in conjunction with type 1 diabetes, Addison’s disease, rheumatoid arthritis, pernicious anemia, and premature menopause.
If the thyroid becomes enlarged or inflamed or there is little hormone production treatment may be needed. Good nutrition is essential with this condition.
Grave’s disease is named for Robert Graves, an Irish physician, who discovered the disease about 150 years ago. It occurs when the thyroid gland is in a state of overactivity or hyperthyroidism. This disease can also manifest in the eyes. Known as Grave’s Graves’ Ophthalmopathy or Thyroid Eye disease is an autoimmune disease caused by antibodies directed against receptors present in the thyroid cells and also on the surface of the cells behind the eyes. It develops in up to one half of people with Grave’s disease. While Grave’s disease is an overactive thyroid issue, some cases have resulted in hypothyroidism.
Developing eye problems is very rare but may occur up to six months after a diagnosis. In most cases they are usually mild and can be treated. Symptoms include grittiness or eye irritation, inflammation of the white part of the eye, excessive tearing or dry eyes, swollen eyelids, sensitivity to light, forward displacement or bulging eyes, and double vision, decreased movement of the eye and eyelids and inability to close the eye. Loss of vision rarely occurs. It is important to note that the severity of eye problems is not related to the of hypothyroidism.
Iodine deficiency occurs when the thyroid does not get enough iodine. As stated earlier, T3 and T4 hormones are made from iodine, The body does not create iodine so it needs to get adequate amounts from the diet. Iodine deficiency can cause Goiter and hypothyroidism. Iodine deficiency in pregnant women can result in mental retardation in infants and children.
Iodine was first added to salt in the 1920s after an outbreak of goiter occurred in the Great Lakes, Appalachian, and Northwestern United States. This wiped out the iodine deficiency.
While they had good intentions of adding iodine to salt. Typical table salt is often overly processed and unhealthy. It contains preservatives, and even sugar! Intake of processed foods should also be limited these foods also contain processed sodium.
A good alternative is to have real Himalayan or Celtic sea salt. These salts also contain some traces of iodine. Note that if you have high blood pressure you should not be consuming more than 1500 mg of sodium per day regardless of what type it is.
If you eat a well-balanced nutrient rich diet you will be sure to get enough iodine.
Today iodine deficiency is most prevalent among parts of the world that do not have iodine-rich foods as part of their diet. Today 40 percent of the world at risk for iodine deficiency.
Goiter is when the thyroid gland becomes enlarged. Just because the gland is enlarged does not mean it is diseased. Goiter occurs in a thyroid that is producing too much, too little hormone, or just the right amount of hormones. Goiter could be a result of iodine deficiency, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, or Graves’ Disease.
21. Asymptomatic or NO signs or symptoms.
Often there will be no pain or symptoms which can result in a thyroid condition going unnoticed for years. Thyroid issues are becoming a big concern for Americans. Everyone can benefit from a screening even if they are are not experiencing symptoms.
Not sure what to test for? Get these blood tests to know the health of your thyroid.
Already suffering from a thyroid condition? Make sure you are getting these essential nutrients
Jeanette is a dietitian nutritionist with a passion for helping people attain their best health. She has a love for nutrition and educating others on the science side of nutrition easy to understand. When she is not writing or creating content she loves making new recipes to make veggies taste delicious. In addition to nutrition, her passion lies in finding new music and going to concerts whenever possible. You can check out her other blog at www.eatsleepbreathemusic.com