The Thyroid & its Function
The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland centered in the base of the neck and is responsible for making hormones that balance our growth, development, metabolism, and energy. It regulates our metabolic rate and body temperature. There are varying types of thyroid disorders – an overactive thyroid, known as hyperthyroidism, or an underactive thyroid, known as hypothyroidism. A thyroid disorder can affect weight gain or loss, thinning hair, energy, joint pain, anxiety, depression, and sleep, amongst other things.
Thyroid imbalances occur when your thyroid hormone production is reduced or excessive. The primary hormones involved in this process are thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH), triiodothyronine (T3), thyroxine (T4). TSH is responsible for telling your thyroid to make and release hormones T3 and T4 into your blood, where they regulate many other functions. Nutrient deficiencies, liver disorders, or autoimmune disease can affect this process.
The American Thyroid Association estimates that 20 million Americans have some form of thyroid disease, and up to 60 percent of these people are unaware of their condition. At VitaHealth, we have years of experience with treating thyroid disorders. We understand the frustration often felt by patients between the confusion of lab results and the ongoing symptoms that never seem to go away or even worsen over time. We want to help you understand your thyroid and help balance your body’s process to get you feeling like yourself again.
Hypothyroidism is the most commonly diagnosed thyroid disorder. This means your thyroid levels are low but does not mean that your thyroid is not working. There are many types of hypothyroidism. In the United States, the most common cause is an autoimmune disease called Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis. The body’s immune system starts attacking the thyroid and does not allow the process of T4 hormones to be made as effectively. There are a couple of other ways the immune system can attack the body, which will enable T4 to be made but will not convert it to the active form of T3. Other factors can prevent the conversion of T3 and are diagnosed as a group term known as Low T3 Syndrome. Infections and stress on the body create an increase of a hormone known as Cortisol from the adrenal gland. This hormone interferes with the thyroid process and causes fluctuations that are often diagnosed as Thyroiditis or lead to Adrenal Fatigue. Because of the many causes of hypothyroidism, the symptoms vary greatly. Most symptoms are related to slow metabolism and include weight gain, feeling tired no matter how much sleep you get, constipation, feeling cold more often, brain fog, trouble with memory, and feelings of depression. You can even have complete opposite symptoms or some vague enough that you have accepted it as your “normal.” These symptoms can be severe enough to interfere with your relationships, career, and overall health.