Did you know that thyroid dysfunction is one of the most common problems for women?
In fact, it’s estimated that up to 60 percent of women will experience some type of thyroid issue in their lifetime. Thyroid issues can cause a wide variety of symptoms, which can make them difficult to diagnose. In this article, we’ll discuss the symptoms of thyroid dysfunction, how they are treated, and ways to stay healthy even if you have a thyroid condition!
What is the Thyroid?
The thyroid is a small, butterfly shaped gland located in your neck, but despite it’s small size, it plays a crucial role in hormone production. Your thyroid is responsible for producing two main hormones: Thyroxine (T4) and Triiodothyronine (T3). These hormones help regulate your metabolism, heart rate, body temperature, and much more. When your thyroid isn’t functioning properly, it can cause a variety of problems.
The most common type of thyroid disorder is hypothyroidism, which occurs when your thyroid doesn’t produce enough hormones. This can cause a number of symptoms including fatigue, weight gain, dry skin and hair, sensitivity to cold temperatures, joint pain, hair loss, depression, and irregular menstrual cycles.
Hyperthyroidism can also affect some people which is when the body produces too much thyroid hormone, with symptoms such as a rapid or irregular heart beat, difficulty sleeping, tremors, and fatigue.
Testing and Treatment
The most common way to diagnose a thyroid condition like hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism is to have your thyroid hormones tested, most commonly the TSH (Thyroid Stimulating Hormone). TSH is produced by the pituitary gland, and tells your thyroid gland how much thyroid hormone to create.
Testing the TSH does not give you the full picture however, as it is also important to test actual T3 and T4 levels, specifically Free T3 and Free T4. If these levels are low, thyroid medication or supplementation is often necessary.
The most common treatment for low thyroid (hypothyroidism) is synthetic T4 medication, or Levothyroxine. This is known an a T4 only medication which the body will then convert to T3 and help to restore balance. For people who don’t do well on synthetic T4, there are other alternatives which use animal thyroid instead.
These medications contain both T4 and T3 and for some, will produce better results with less side-effects. If you are have some of the symptoms of thyroid dysfunction, it is best to talk with your doctor and get tested as soon as possible.