When Your Thyroid Goes Awry
Do fatigue drag you down day after day? Do you have brain fog, weight gain, chills, or hair loss? Or is the opposite true for you: Are you often revved up, sweaty, or anxious? Your thyroid gland could be to blame. This great regulator of body and mind sometimes goes haywire, particularly in women. Getting the right treatment is critical to feel your best and avoid serious health problems.
What Is the Thyroid Gland?
The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland in the front of the neck. It produces hormones that control the speed of your metabolism – the system that helps the body use energy. Thyroid disorders can slow down or rev up your metabolism by disrupting the production of thyroid hormones. When hormone levels become too low or too high, you may experience a wide range of symptoms.
- Weight Gain or Loss
An unexplained change in weight is one of the most common signs of a thyroid disorder. Weight gain may signal low levels of thyroid hormones, a condition called hypothyroidism. In contrast, if the thyroid produces more hormones than the body needs, you may lose weight unexpectedly. This is known as hyperthyroidism. Hypothyroidism is far more common.
- Swelling in the Neck
A swelling or enlargement in the neck is a visible clue that something may be wrong with the thyroid. A goiter may occur with either hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism. Sometimes swelling in the neck can result from thyroid cancer or nodules, lumps that grow inside the thyroid. It can also be due to a cause unrelated to the thyroid.
- Changes in Heart Rate
Thyroid hormones affect nearly every organ in the body and can influence your heart beat rate. People with hypothyroidism may notice their heart rate is slower than usual. Hyperthyroidism may cause the heart to speed up. It can also trigger increased blood pressure and the sensation of a pounding heart, known as heart palpitations.
- Changes in Energy or Mood
Thyroid disorders can have a noticeable impact on your energy level and mood. Hypothyroidism tends to make people feel tired, sluggish, and depressed. Hyperthyroidism can cause anxiety, problems sleeping, restlessness, and irritability.
- Hair Loss
Hair loss is another sign that your thyroid hormones may be out of balance. Both hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism can cause hair to fall out. In most cases, the hair will grow back once the thyroid disorder is treated.
- Feeling Too Cold or Hot
Thyroid disorders can disrupt the ability to regulate body temperature. People with hypothyroidism may feel cold more often than usual. Hyperthyroidism tends to have the opposite effect, causing excessive sweating and an aversion to heat.
Other Symptoms of Hypothyroidism
Hypothyroidism can cause many other symptoms, including:
- Dry skin and brittle nails
- Numbness or tingling in the hands
- Abnormal menstrual periods
- Muscle weakness or trembling hands
- Vision problems
- Irregular menstrual periods
Thyroid Disorder or Menopause?
Because thyroid disorders can cause changes in your menstrual cycle and mood, the symptoms are sometimes mistaken for menopause. If a thyroid problem is suspected, a simple blood test can determine whether the true culprit is menopause or a thyroid disorder – or a combination of the two.
Who Should Be Tested?
Everyone should be screened for thyroid dysfunction every five years, beginning at age 35, according to the American Thyroid Association. People with symptoms or risk factors may need tests more often. Hypothyroidism more frequently affects women over the age of 60. Hyperthyroidism is also more common in women and in men over 60. A family history raises your risk of either disorder.
Thyroid Neck Check
A careful look in the mirror may help you spot an enlarged thyroid that needs a doctor’s attention. Tip your head back, take a drink of water, and as you swallow, examine your neck below the Adam’s apple and above the collarbone. Look for bulges or protrusions, then repeat the process a few times. See a doctor promptly if you see a bulge or lump.
Diagnosing Thyroid Disorders
If your doctor suspects a thyroid disorder, a blood test can help provide an answer. This test measures the level of thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH), a kind of master hormone that regulates the work of the thyroid gland. If TSH is high, it typically means that your thyroid function is too low (hypothyroid). If TSH is low, then it generally means the thyroid is overactive (hyperthyroid.) Your doctor may also check levels of other thyroid hormones in your blood. In some cases, imaging studies are used and biopsies are taken to evaluate a thyroid abnormality.
The most common cause of hypothyroidism is Hashimoto’s disease. This is an autoimmune disorder in which the body attacks the thyroid gland. The result is damage to the thyroid, preventing it from producing enough hormones. Hashimoto’s disease tends to run in families.
Losing Weight with Thyroid Disorder
We approach “thyroid” weight loss the same as Insulin Resistant weight loss. Please follow the Manna Weight Loss Program in the free e-book and take the Manna Blood Sugar Support caplets with each meal to control cravings, control insulin requirements and balance blood sugar levels to lose weight the healthy way.