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10 Things You Need to Know About Your Thyroid

by Rishabh

The Thyroid gland is one of the largest endocrine glands in the body. The butterfly shaped gland is located between your voice box and collarbones. It is no bigger than your thumb, but its secretion affects almost every process in your body. Thyroid produces hormones that regulate body metabolism by controlling how many calories you burn, as well as how fast or slow your brain, heart, liver, and other organs work.

Thyroid

Thyroid plays a role in everything from your mood to your periods to your bone health, even the regularity of passing feces.

Read on for all the essential things to know about your Thyroid.

How your thyroid works?

The thyroid secrets the key hormones triiodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine (T4). These are partially composed of iodine. These secretions affect your well-being, head to toe.

Heart: The thyroid hormones influence heart rate and helps control blood flow by relaxing the muscles in the walls of your blood vessels.

Fertility: In females, the thyroid hormones influence menstrual cycle. Fluctuations in the level of hormones lead to irregular ovulation and periods.

What are Thyroid problems?

Thyroid disorders can range from a small, harmless goiter (enlarged gland) that needs no treatment to a life-threatening cancer. The most common thyroid problems involve abnormal production of thyroid hormones. Too much thyroid hormone results in a condition known as hyperthyroidism. Insufficient hormone production leads to hypothyroidism.

Although the effects are uncomfortable, most thyroid problems can be managed well if properly diagnosed and treated.

Know your symptoms

Both hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism can be challenging to detect because the symptoms tend to be common to other ailments. But if you notice more than two of the signs below, talk to your doctor about having your thyroid tested.

Hypothyroidism: Dry skin and hair, forgetfulness, constipation, a rundown feeling, muscle cramps, unexplained weight gain, heavier/irregular menstrual flow, swelling in the face, heightened sensitivity to cold.

Hyperthyroidism: Irritability, increased perspiration, racing heartbeat, difficulty sleeping, frequent BMs, unexplained weight loss, less frequent and lighter periods, bulging eyes, shaky hands.

Weight: Because the thyroid regulates your metabolism (how quickly your body burns through fuel), an overactive thyroid or hyperthyroidism is linked to weight loss, while underactive thyroid or hypothyroidism is linked to weight gain.

Brain: Low thyroid levels can bring on forgetfulness, difficulty concentrating, and depression. Luckily, these symptoms tend to reverse with synthetic hormone treatment.

Skin: When your thyroid is underactive, your body stops making and shedding skin cells at its normal pace. Cells build up, causing dry, dull-looking skin. (Hair and nail growth slow down as well.)

Bones: The rate at which old bone is broken down is driven by thyroid hormones; when that process speeds up, bone is destroyed faster than it can be replaced, which can lead to osteoporosis.

Treatment for Thyroid problems

If your TSH test reveals a level of 10 mIU/L or higher, most experts recommend treatment. But if your level is in the range of roughly 4 to 10mIU/L, consider your symptoms. If you do not have symptoms, thyroid medication is not needed and could result in overtreatment and increase your risk of heart palpitations and other symptoms of hyperthyroidism. If you are treated, your doctor should monitor you with blood tests after 6 to 12 weeks to make sure the medications don’t cause hyperthyroidism.

In around 30 per cent cases of hypothyroidism there is actually no need of medications.  A condition “subclinical hypothyroidism” which means that the levels of TSH are mildly elevated, but levels of T3 and T4 are normal, and they have few, if any, symptoms. TSH is a pituitary hormone; high levels indicate your body is trying to stimulate your thyroid to produce more hormones.

Know all aspects of thyroid cancer

Since 1975, the incidence of thyroid cancer has nearly tripled, while the death rate has remained low and stable. There is an over diagnosis of thyroid cancer going on. Most of these cancers don’t need treatment, because they grow slowly or not at all.

Pointing out that surgery carries its own risks, experts’ state that if the tumor is smaller than 1 centimeter, monitoring it is best. Freaking out about Thyroid cancer is not needed. Doctors can discuss all options for treatment.

You can’t always blame your thyroid for weight gain

With the growing occurrence of people gaining weight, doctors are frequently asked of it is the thyroid acting up. It is true that if you are hypothyroid, there is an increase of weight but the condition typically comes with other symptoms, too, such as fatigue, constipation, and irregular periods. And even if you are experiencing multiple signs, your doctor will likely also consider many problems. It could be a hormone dysfunction (such as polycystic ovary syndrome) or perimenopause, as well as unhealthy habits (such as skimping on exercise or sleep). There are many factors that could be behind your weight gain and not just your thyroid.

Thyroid supplements can be risky

The Thyroid supplements claiming to offer “thyroid support” are often hyped. The popular pills even those billed as herb-based contained varying amounts of actual thyroid hormones. Even scarier, the doses of hormones found in some of these products were higher than those in prescription meds. These large doses can cause dangerous side effects, such as arrhythmias and problems with your bones.

Know how to check your neck

Try this simple test to see if you have a telltale sign of thyroid disease.

  1. Use a handheld mirror to look at the lower front area of your neck, above your collarbones and below your voice box.
  2. Tip your head back, take a sip of water, and watch for protrusions in that area.
  3. If you notice a bulge, call your doc. You may have a thyroid nodule or enlarged thyroid (an indication of hypo- or hyperthyroidism).

Keep your thyroid happy

  1. Get iodine from food. A daily dose of 150 mcg in your diet is crucial for the production of thyroid hormones. Iodine is typically added to table salt, but even if you’re on a low-salt diet, you can get enough from other foods, like fish, dairy, eggs, and processed grains.
  2. Filter your water. Perchlorate, a chemical that interferes with the thyroid’s absorption of iodine, has been found in some tap water. If your water has been tested with the presnec of the chemicals, try a reverse osmosis filter.
  3. Avoid triclosan. This antibacterial agent, present in some soaps, is similar in structure to thyroid hormones..
  4. Ditch nonstick. The coating may be made with perfluorochemicals, which some studies have connected to thyroid disease.

Thyroid issues are more common in women

Women are five to eight times as likely to have thyroid problems as men. But why that is the case remains a mystery. The key suspect is estrogen. Thyroid cells have a large concentration of estrogen receptors, which means they’re extra sensitive to the effects of the female sex hormone. Another possible reason is many causes of hypo- and hyperthyroidism are related to autoimmune diseases, and women are generally more prone to those disorders. The most common cause of hypothyroidism, for example, is Hashimoto’s disease (which is about seven times as prevalent in women), and the most common cause of hyperthyroidism is Graves’ disease (which is up to 10 times as prevalent in women.

You may also read on Thyroid Cancer Treatment in India ]

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