Getting Screened For Thyroid Disease
If you have symptoms related to thyroid disease such as depression or anxiety, intolerance to hot or cold temperatures, or unexpected changes in your weight in addition to risk factors for thyroid disease, particularly a family history of autoimmune disease, you should be screened for thyroid disease, advises Pamela Allweiss, MD, MSPH, an endocrinologist and an assistant professor in family practice at the University of Kentucky College of Medicine in Lexington.
While not much can be done to prevent thyroid disease, Dr. Allweiss says early detection is important. Oftentimes, thyroid disease symptoms can be vague, but people with a family history or other thyroid-disease risk factors should “think about thyroid disease” and talk to their doctor if they notice any unusual ailments, Dr. Allweiss notes.
If a person has ever been told that they have an enlarged thyroid or goiter in the past they should also be tested periodically for thyroid disease, Allweiss also suggests. Prompt diagnosis of thyroid disease is crucial since there’s not much you can do to prevent it and treatment is the only way to bring your hormone levels back into balance.
The Conventional Medical Approach To Thyroid Disorders
In medicine, the key to choosing the best treatment is an accurate diagnosis. If the diagnosis isnt correct, the treatment will be ineffectiveor even cause harm. Unfortunately, misdiagnosis is common in the management of thyroid disorders. If a person visits a doctor with hypothyroid symptoms, she will simply be given replacement hormones without any further inquiry into the cause of her condition. Even worse, if she has hypothyroid symptoms but her lab tests are normal, shell be told that shes fine. If the patient insists that shes not fine, she might be sent home with an antidepressant, but with no further clue about the cause of her symptoms.
The problem with this approach is that thyroid physiology is complex. The production, conversion, and uptake of thyroid hormone in the body involve several steps . A malfunction in any of these steps can cause hypothyroid symptoms but may not show up on standard lab tests. It is incorrect to assume that all cases of hypothyroidism share the same cause and require the same treatment, yet that is exactly what the standard of care for hypothyroidism delivers.
Many conventionally trained clinicians will simply run a TSH test and call it a day. However, this misses critical information you need about your patients thyroid metabolism. I always order a combination of thyroid markers, including TSH, T3, T4, free T3, free T4, and thyroid antibodies.
Can I Check My Thyroid At Home
You can do a quick and easy self-exam of your thyroid at home. The only tools you need to do this self-exam are a mirror and a glass of water.
To do the thyroid self-exam, follow these steps:
- Start by identifying where your thyroid is located. Generally, youll find the thyroid on the front of your neck, between your collar bone and Adams apple. In men, the Adams apple is much easier to see. For women, its usually easiest to look from the collar bone up.
- Tip your head back while looking in a mirror. Look at your neck and try to hone in on the space you will be looking once you start the exam.
- Once youre ready, take a drink of water while your head is tilted back. Watch your thyroid as you swallow. During this test, youre looking for lumps or bumps. You may be able to see them when you swallow the water.
Repeat this test a few times to get a good look at your thyroid. If you see any lumps or bumps, reach out to your healthcare provider.
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Can I Get Hypothyroidism From My Hyperthyroidism Treatment
You can get hypothyroidism from hyperthyroidism treatments. This is sometimes the goal of a healthcare provider. In hypothyroidism, the amount of thyroid hormone needs to be boosted. This can be done with medications that you regularly take. Adding hormones to your body is more manageable than trying to get your body to decrease the amount of thyroid hormone it creates.
Can hyperthyroidism cause female infertility?
One of the symptoms of hyperthyroidism in women can be irregular menstrual cycles . The imbalance of thyroid hormone can impact all parts of your body. Some women actually start reaching out to their healthcare provider because of issues becoming pregnant and then learn about a thyroid condition.
What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of Hyperthyroidism
At first, you might not notice the signs or symptoms of hyperthyroidism. Symptoms usually begin slowly. But, over time, a faster metabolism can cause symptoms such as:
- Weight loss, even if you eat the same or more food
- Eating more than usual
- Diarrhea or more bowel movements than normal
- Fewer and lighter menstrual periods than normal
- Changes in your eyes that can include bulging of the eyes, redness, or irritation
Hyperthyroidism raises your risk for , a condition that causes weak bones that break easily. In fact, hyperthyroidism might affect your bones before you have any of the other symptoms of the condition. This is especially true of women who have gone through menopause or who are already at high risk of osteoporosis.
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What Does My Thyroid Do
Located at the front of your neck, the thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland. Glands are organs that can be found all over your body. They create and release hormones substances that help your body function and grow. The thyroid gland plays a big part in many of your bodys main functions. Your thyroid gland regulates your body temperature and controls your heart rate and metabolism.
When your thyroid gland is working correctly, your body is in balance and all of your systems function properly. If your thyroid stops working in the way its meant to creating too much or too little of thyroid hormones it can impact your entire body.
The Underlying Causes Of Thyroid Disorders
The two major causes of thyroid disorders are nutrient deficiency and autoimmune disease.
Iodine is a crucial nutrient for thyroid function. Thyroid hormone is rich in iodine, and deficiency of iodine can cause both hypothyroidism and goiter . Zinc is required for the synthesis of thyroid hormone, and deficiency of zinc has been shown to result in hypothyroidism . Selenium, a cofactor for iodothyronine deiodinase, is required to convert T4 into T3 . Selenium deficiency exacerbates conditions caused by inadequate iodine intake .
The most common autoimmune cause of thyroid problems is Hashimotos disease. In Hashimotos disease, the body attacks the thyroid gland, progressively destroying its capacity to produce thyroid hormone and resulting in hypothyroidism . Some studies suggest that up to 90 percent of people with hypothyroidism have Hashimotos disease . Graves disease is another autoimmune disease that affects the thyroid gland, but it causes the thyroid to become enlarged and overactive, which results in hyperthyroid symptoms .
You can figure out if your patients thyroid issues are due to an autoimmune process by testing for thyroid antibodies . While not all people with Hashimotos have hypothyroid symptoms, thyroid antibodies have been found to be a marker for future thyroid disease .
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How Do I Know If I Have Thyroid Nodules
Most thyroid nodules do not produce any symptoms. However, if you have several nodules, or large nodules, you may be able to see them. Although rare, nodules can press against other structures in the neck and cause symptoms, including:
Hyperfunctioning thyroid nodules can lead to overproduction of thyroid hormones, also known as hyperthyroidism. Symptoms of hyperthyroidism include:
Following Treatment Guidelines For Graves’ Disease And Hyperthyroidism
Not receiving treatment for Graves disease and hyperthyroidism makes you more likely to develop problems with your eyes. In addition, taking your medications correctly for Graves disease and hyperthyroidism can affect the condition of your eyes.
Other lifestyle factors that may affect thyroid eye disease development include:
- Changes in hormones
- Taking certain medications, such as amiodarone for heart disease
- Not having enough or having too much dietary iodine
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During And After Pregnancy
Increased demands on metabolism during pregnancy results in increased demands on the thyroid.
In one study, 85 percent of women who are pregnant and taking thyroid hormone replacement needed an additional intake of 47 percent on average, during pregnancy.
If hypothyroidism occurs during pregnancy, it is usually due to Hashimotos thyroiditis. This condition affects between
What Are The Complications Of Hypothyroidism
Hypothyroidism can contribute to high cholesterol. If you have high cholesterol, you should get tested for hypothyroidism. Rarely, severe untreated hypothyroidism may lead to myxedema coma, an extreme form of hypothyroidism in which the bodys functions slow to a life-threatening point. Myxedema coma requires immediate medical treatment.
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How Is Thyroid Cancer Diagnosed
If you have an enlarged thyroid nodule or other signs of thyroid cancer, your healthcare provider may order one or more of these tests:
- Blood tests: A thyroid blood test checks hormone levels and gauges whether your thyroid is functioning properly.
- Biopsy: During a fine-needle aspiration biopsy, your healthcare provider removes cells from your thyroid to test for cancer cells. A sentinel node biopsy can determine if cancer cells have spread to lymph nodes. Your provider may use ultrasound technology to guide these biopsy procedures.
- Radioiodine scan: This test can detect thyroid cancer and determine if cancer has spread. You swallow a pill containing a safe amount of radioactive iodine . Over a few hours, the thyroid gland absorbs the iodine. Your healthcare provider uses a special device to measure the amount of radiation in the gland. Areas with less radioactivity need more testing to confirm the presence of cancer.
- Imaging scans:Magnetic resonance imaging , computed tomography and positron emission tomography scans can detect thyroid cancer and cancer spread.
What Is Hypothyroidism
Hashimotos hypothyroidism happens when the thyroid gland doesnt make enough thyroid hormones to meet the bodys needs because its immune system has damaged it.
Thyroid hormones regulate metabolism, which is how you turn food into energy. Without enough energy, your body cannot operate normally and its functions begin to slow down.
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Why It Is Done
A thyroid biopsy is done to:
- Find the cause of a lump found in the thyroid gland. Lumps in the thyroid gland may be found during a physical examination or seen on a thyroid ultrasound test or radioactive thyroid scan.
- Find the cause of a goiter. Symptoms of a goiter include breathing and swallowing problems, a feeling of fullness in the neck, and weight loss.
Get Help For Your Hypothyroidism
The best way to heal from hypothyroidism is by working with a Functional Medicine practitioner whos prepared to address the root cause of your disorder. Its crucial that you find someone who can identify whats really causing your issue, as their treatment plan will vary depending on it. And depending on that cause, your practitioner may also recommend targeted supplementation and/or medication as well as lifestyle changes, like managing your stress levels.
This is where it helps to have a collaborative team of professionals who are all dedicated to helping you alleviate your hypothyroid symptoms or reverse the illness altogether. Your care team could include:
- A practitioner to order blood work, prescribe treatment, and monitor your progress
- A nutritionist to help you make changes to your diet, like removing gluten, adopting an anti-inflammatory diet, or reducing your intake of goitrogens
- A health coach to support you as you change your habits
- A personal trainer to make sure your fitness routine provides the exercise you need without adding stress and worsening your thyroid condition
- A mindfulness expert to help you learn how to stay present and manage your stress levels
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Treatment Strategies For Hypothyroidism
When it comes to treating any condition, my motto has always been to use the treatment option that works and causes the least harmor, preferably, no harm at all. In the case of hypothyroidism, that often includes implementing dietary and lifestyle changes, potentially alongside supplementation and medication. And, of course, the most effective strategies for you will depend on the cause of your thyroid disorder.
What Is The Main Cause Of Thyroid Problems
Through the hormones it produces, the thyroid gland gets to influence all the different systems present in your body.
Thyroid disorders come in a broad range of forms and can be as minor as an enlarged gland or as threatening as long-term cancer.
Common thyroid problems often arise due to the abnormal production of thyroid hormones. Overproduction of these hormones often results in a condition called hyperthyroidism.
Conversely, insufficient production causes the condition known as hypothyroidism. While thyroid problems can cause uncomfortable or unpleasant effects, its possible to treat and manage most of them.
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Signs And Symptoms Of Hypothyroidism
Thyroid disorders are common. In fact, about 12% of people will experience abnormal thyroid function at some point during their lives.
Women are eight times more likely to develop a thyroid disorder than men. Also, thyroid problems increase with age and may affect adults differently than children.
At the most basic level, thyroid hormone is responsible for coordinating energy, growth and metabolism in your body.
Problems can occur when this hormones levels are too high or low.
Hypothyroidism, or low levels of thyroid hormone, slows your metabolism and decreases growth or repair of many parts of the body.
How Does Thyroid Cancer Affect Pregnancy
Thyroid cancer is the second most common cancer diagnosed in pregnant women . Approximately 10% of thyroid cancers develop during pregnancy or within the first year after childbirth. Experts believe fluctuating hormone levels during pregnancy may trigger the cancer.
If you receive a thyroid cancer diagnosis during pregnancy, your healthcare provider can discuss treatment options. Depending on the cancer type and severity, your provider may recommend delaying treatment until after you deliver your baby. If treatment cant wait, most women can safely undergo surgery to remove the cancerous gland. You shouldnt have radioactive diagnostic tests or treatments when youre pregnant or breastfeeding.
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Should I Exercise If I Have A Thyroid Disease
Regular exercise is an important part of a healthy lifestyle. You do not need to change your exercise routine if you have a thyroid disease. Exercise does not drain your bodys thyroid hormones and it shouldnt hurt you to exercise. It is important to talk to your healthcare provider before you start a new exercise routine to make sure that its a good fit for you.
What Are Early Warning Signs Of Thyroid Problems
Because our biological functions are so often tied to our hormones, there are a number of symptoms that could indicate an issue with your thyroid.High Heart Rate. Excessive Tiredness. Anxiety. Weight Gain or Loss. Body Shakes. Feeling Chilly or Overheated. Trouble Concentrating. Hair Loss.More items
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Can Thyroid Disease Cause Problems Getting Pregnant
Both hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism can make it harder for you to get . This is because problems with the thyroid hormone can upset the balance of the hormones that cause ovulation. Hypothyroidism can also cause your body to make more prolactin, the hormone that tells your body to make breastmilk. Too much prolactin can prevent .
Thyroid problems can also affect the . Your periods may be heavier or irregular, or you may not have any periods at all for several months or longer .
What Is The Prognosis For People Who Have Thyroid Cancer
Eight out of 10 people who have thyroid cancer develop the papillary type. Papillary thyroid cancer has a five-year survival rate of almost 100% when the cancer is in the gland . Even when the cancer spreads , the survival rate is close to 80%. This rate means that, on average, youre about 80% as likely to live for at least five years after diagnosis as someone who doesnt have metastatic papillary thyroid cancer.
Five-year survival rates for other thyroid cancer types include:
- Follicular: Close to 100% for localized around 63% for metastasized.
- Medullary: Close to 100% for localized around 40% for metastasized.
- Anaplastic: Close to 31% for localized 4% for metastasized.
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How Does My Thyroid Work
The thyroid gland is a small, butterfly-shaped organ located in the front of your neck just under the voice box . Picture the middle of the butterflys body centered on your neck, with the wings hugging around your windpipe . The main job of the thyroid is to control your metabolism. Metabolism is the process that your body uses to transform food to energy your body uses to function. The thyroid creates the hormones T4 and T3 to control your metabolism. These hormones work throughout the body to tell the bodys cells how much energy to use. They control your body temperature and heart rate.
When your thyroid works correctly, its constantly making hormones, releasing them and then making new hormones to replace whats been used. This keeps your metabolism functioning and all of your bodys systems in check. The amount of thyroid hormones in the bloodstream is controlled by the pituitary gland, which is located in the center of the skull below the brain. When the pituitary gland senses either a lack of thyroid hormone or too much, it adjusts its own hormone and sends it to the thyroid to balance out the amounts.
If the amount of thyroid hormones is too high or too low , the entire body is impacted.