Thyroid hormones directly affect how most of your organs function.  If your thyroid isn’t operating properly, then you can have problems in other parts of your body.

 

Where Is My Thyroid?

The thyroid is a small gland located at the front of the neck, just at the spot where a bow tie would rest.  It has left, and right halves that look like a butterfly’s wings called lobes. [1]

What Can Go Wrong?

Structural problems could be either an enlarged thyroid gland (goiters) or a small thyroid gland (atrophic).

Functional problems are usually detected with a thyroid function test.  Hypothyroid or Hyperthyroid conditions are then addressed. [2]

What Is a Nodule?

A nodule is a group of cells within the gland that causes a lump. Sometimes the lump is large enough to feel through the skin.

What is Graves’ Disease?

Graves’ disease is an autoimmune disorder in which the thyroid gland produces excessive amounts of hormones. This causes the immune system to make an antibody called TSH.  In some patients, swelling of the muscles and other tissues around the eyes may develop, causing discomfort or double vision.  This condition is called Graves’ Ophthalmopathy (GO).  A small number of people with Graves’ disease also experience thickening and reddening of the skin on their shins or tops of feet. [3]  Paying attention to subtle changes in your body could prevent a rapid onset of symptoms.

Hypothyroidism (under-active thyroid) is a condition where the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks the thyroid gland.

Symptoms Include fatigue, weight gain, feeling cold, overly dry skin and brittle hair, heavy menstrual periods, constipation, slowed thinking or low sex drive.

Treatment will often be a prescription hormone pill along with routine blood test to check TSH levels.

Hyperthyroidism (over-active thyroid) is when the thyroid produces too much hormone causing your metabolism to speed up, therefore, making your body’s organs to work harder than needed.  That can take a toll on your organs including your brain and therefore greatly affect your mood.

Symptoms may Include jitteriness, rapid heartbeat, feeling hot, weight loss, fatigue, more frequent bowel movements and shorter/lighter menstrual periods.

Treatment often will be radioactive iodine. This is a radiation treatment that will destroy some of the thyroid.  Surgery to remove part of the thyroid is usually recommended as a last resort.

Neck Check

Nearly 15 million Americans with thyroid problems are undiagnosed. The American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists recommends doing a regular self-exam to look for any changes in your thyroid gland. [3]   Click here for a step-by-step guide.

The More You Know
The thyroid collar is a small, led-lined collar that looks a bit like a turtleneck.  It protects you from unnecessary radiation caused by x-rays.
Cigarette smokers also are more likely to develop thyroid complications.
There has been some evidence between gluten-sensitivity and poor thyroid function. Restricting your intake of gluten could help.
Healthy amounts of coconut oil, seafood, and eggs have great thyroid-nourishing properties.

[1] www.kidshealth.org

[2] www.checkyourneck.com

[3] www.thyroidawareness.com


Jennifer Bell

Jennifer Bell has managed many specialty areas of healthcare including, kidney transplant, physical therapy and surgery.  She combines her expertise in patient relations with her love of writing to bring awareness of health related issues.   In her blog, Dreamlife Moments, she writes about mindfulness of time and recognizing more of the positive moments happening around us every day that creates a more positive life experience. Jennifer and her husband Byron are recent empty-nesters who enjoy traveling with their bichon Aissa, geocaching and volunteering wherever they go. Who is this chickie anyway? Connect with Jennifer on her Facebook Page, Blog and Twitter to find out more.

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