Are you feeling more tired than usual? Have you been struggling with your weight? It’s possible that an imbalanced thyroid could be the cause. Many people are unaware of their thyroid condition, with an estimated 60% of Americans living with undiagnosed thyroid disease. At Grassroots Healthcare in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Dr. Melita Tate and our compassionate team are dedicated to helping you improve your overall health, including the health of your thyroid. Let’s delve into what happens to your body when your thyroid is off balance and explore the symptoms and treatment options available.
What is the Thyroid and How Does It Work?
Nestled low on your neck along the front of your windpipe is a small yet mighty gland called the thyroid. This tiny powerhouse plays a crucial role in regulating your overall health. As part of the endocrine system, which consists of various glands throughout the body, the thyroid produces hormones that control nearly every function and system. Its primary responsibility is to regulate your metabolism, converting food into energy. Additionally, it influences your heart rate, calorie-burning rate, body temperature, blood pressure, muscle contractions, and even your mood. To function correctly, the thyroid’s cells rely on iodine, which can be obtained through foods like iodized salt, prunes, egg yolks, lima beans, fish, iodine-fortified foods, and various seaweeds.
Understanding Thyroid Imbalance and Its Impact on the Body:
When the thyroid is out of balance, it can either overproduce or underproduce the hormones it secretes. This hormonal imbalance disrupts the body’s normal functioning, leading to various thyroid diseases. The effects of thyroid imbalance can vary depending on the type and severity of the condition.
Hyperthyroidism occurs when the thyroid is overactive, producing excessive thyroid hormones. The primary cause of this condition is Graves’ disease, an autoimmune disorder. Inflammation of the thyroid can also contribute to excess hormone production. If left untreated, hyperthyroidism can lead to significant health problems affecting your bones, muscles, and heart. Women may also experience disruptions in their menstrual cycles and fertility. Common symptoms of an overactive thyroid include a racing heart, trouble sleeping, anxiety, unexplained weight loss, thinning hair, and fragile skin.
Hypothyroidism, on the other hand, occurs when the thyroid is underactive, resulting in insufficient production of thyroid hormones. The leading cause of hypothyroidism in America is Hashimoto’s disease, an autoimmune condition where the immune system attacks the thyroid. Symptoms of hypothyroidism may initially manifest as increased fatigue. Over time, additional symptoms develop, including depression, fatigue, slow heart rate, weight gain or difficulty losing weight, muscle aches, thinning hair, dry skin, heavy menstrual cycles, constipation, and underactive sweat glands. If left untreated, hypothyroidism can lead to elevated cholesterol levels, increasing the risk of heart disease, as well as impaired mental and cognitive function.
Other Thyroid Conditions:
While hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism are the most common thyroid disorders, there are other conditions that can affect thyroid health. These include thyroid nodules, goiters (enlarged thyroid gland), thyroid swelling, and thyroid cancer. A comprehensive evaluation, including a physical exam and blood tests, will help diagnose these conditions accurately.
Treating Thyroid Imbalance:
Grassroots Healthcare takes a holistic approach to healthcare, recognizing that an imbalanced thyroid affects the entire body rather than being an isolated concern. Our team strives to identify the root cause of the imbalance to provide the most effective treatments available.