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What is the Thyroid?

The thyroid is a butterfly shaped gland in the neck that produces a hormone that affects every part of your body, governing your metabolism. There are millions of North Americans with poor thyroid health, of which half are undiagnosed. The thyroid hormone affects every system in the body by:

  • regulating metabolism
  • building muscle
  • coping with stress
  • regulate protein, fat & carb metabolism
  • affecting body temperature
  • controlling heart function, heart rate & circulation

 

What affects Thyroid Health?

When the thyroid gland produces too little or too much of its hormone, the body starts to become symptomatic either way.  Normally, the thyroid hormone produced is inactive, and needs to be converted to its active form in the tissues.  There are so many steps for optimal thyroid health and things can go wrong at each level.  Thyroid health can be compromised by affecting the body’s production, conversion or use of thyroid. Many things can cause thyroid dysfunction.

Causes:

  • Stress
  • Genetics
  • Surgery
  • Cancer
  • Pregnancy
  • Viral Infection
  • Environmental Toxins
  • Nutritional Deficiencies
  • Autoimmune - Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis (Low Thyroid)
  • Autoimmune - Grave’s Disease (High Thyroid)
  • Radioactive Iodine Treatment (Treatment for Grave’s Disease often causes Low Thyroid)
  • Certain Medications: Lithium, Amiodarone, Interferon & Interleukin-2

Risk Factors:

  • Women
  • Aging
  • Bipolar Disorder
  • Premature Graying Hair
  • Caucasian, Asian, South Asian
  • Autoimmune Diseases (Celiac, Vitiligo, Rheumatoid Arthritis, MS, Diabetes)

 

What are the Symptoms of Poor Thyroid Health?

The symptoms of thyroid dysfunction span many organ systems as the thyroid hormone affects every part of the body, from heart and brain to muscles and skin.  This makes it more challenging to diagnose a change in thyroid health, as these symptoms may be present in other conditions.

Symptoms include:

Energy:

  • Fatigue, Low Energy
  • Lethargy

Body:

  • Weight Gain
  • Loss Muscle Tone
  • Decreased Sweating

Sleep:

  • Need More Sleep to Feel Rested
  • Waking Tired after Sleep

Hormones:

  • Difficulty Getting Pregnant
  • Increased Menstrual Periods
  • Change in Menstrual Pattern
  • Pain with Menstrual Periods

Sex:

  • Low Sex Drive
  • Difficult Erections or Orgasm

Head:

  • Hoarse Voice
  • Swelling Face
  • Goiter/Swelling in Throat Area
  • Difficulty Swallowing

Eyes:

  • Protruding Eyes
  • Swelling Around Eyes or Eyelids
  • Bloodshot, Tearing Eyes

Hair & Skin:

  • Brittle, Coarser Hair
  • Hair Loss, Thinning, Bald Spots (Alopecia)
  • Hair Loss Outer 1/3 Eyebrows
  • Dry, Scaly Skin
  • Rough Skin or Weak Nails

Mood:

  • Emotionally Unstable
  • Nervousness

Brain:

  • Headaches
  • Difficulty Pronouncing Words
  • Foggy Head, Forgetful
  • Difficulty Concentrating / Focusing
  • Sensitive to Alcohol/Anaesthetics or Sedatives

Digestion:

  • Dyspepsia, Indigestion
  • Frequent Nausea
  • Abdominal Bloating or Pain
  • Gall Bladder Issues
  • Constipation or Difficult Bowels
  • Frequent Diarrhea

Musculoskeletal:

  • Delayed Reflexes
  • Generalized Aches, Joint Pains

Heart & Circulation:

  • Chest Pain
  • Rapid, Irregular Heartbeat
  • Dizzy Spells
  • Numbness Hands & Feet
  • Chilliness or Intolerance to Cold Temperatures

This article is for educational purposes only and does not advocate self-diagnosis.  Due to individual variability, consultation with a licensed health professional, such as a naturopathic physician is highly recommended, prior to starting a natural treatment plan. For further information, see Terms of Our Website.