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What Is The Purpose Of Your Thyroid

What Is The Thyroid

Thyroid function tests (TFTs) and labs explained in under 7 minutes (ish)

The thyroid gland is a small organ thats located in the front of the neck, wrapped around the windpipe . Its shaped like a butterfly, smaller in the middle with two wide wings that extend around the side of your throat. The thyroid is a gland. You have glands throughout your body, where they create and release substances that help your body do a specific thing. Your thyroid makes hormones that help control many vital functions of your body.

When your thyroid doesnt work properly, it can impact your entire body. If your body makes too much thyroid hormone, you can develop a condition called hyperthyroidism. If your body makes too little thyroid hormone, its called hypothyroidism. Both conditions are serious and need to be treated by your healthcare provider.

Hypothalamicpituitaryadrenal Axis Dysfunction And Stress

The HPA axis is the bodys central stress response system. The HPA axis coordinates the release of cortisol, a hormone that allows our bodies to respond quickly to an immediate threat.Chronic stress, however, can disrupt that process and lead to HPA axis dysfunction.

The thyroid is closely tied to the HPA axis. As I mentioned, the hypothalamus produces TRH, which spurs the pituitary to produce TSH, which signals the thyroid to produce T4 and T3. As you might guess, disruptions in the hypothalamus and/or pituitary gland can interfere with that process and impact the thyroid.

Chronic stress promotes the release of inflammatory cytokines, which reduce the function of the hypothalamus and pituitary gland , inhibit the conversion of thyroid hormones, cause thyroid hormone resistance, and impact other hormones that are important for proper thyroid function. Altered cytokine production may also be linked to autoimmunity, making HPA axis dysfunction and stress critical factors to consider if you have Hashimotos disease.

Its important to point out that exercising too much can also disrupt the HPA axis and potentially exacerbate hypothyroidism. Excessive, intense exercise is a stressor for your body, and it may negatively affect your thyroid health.

In People Without Known Thyroid Disease

A high TSH in people who are not undergoing thyroid disease treatment usually indicates the presence of primary hypothyroidism.

This is by far the most common form of hypothyroidism, and it occurs because the thyroid gland produces an inadequate amount of thyroid hormones. The pituitary gland senses these low levels and increases the production of TSH.

An elevated TSH may also occur with normal thyroid function due to the presence of antibodies, proteins made by the immune system.

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What Problems Can Happen

The thyroid works kind of like the thermostat in a house. When the thyroid makes the right amount of thyroid hormones, it keeps the temperature just right. But:

  • If the thyroid is too active and makes too much T4 and T3, it’s like having a thermostat that’s set too high, so the house gets overheated. This is called hyperthyroidism .
  • If it’s not active enough , it’s set too low and the house is too cold. This is hypothyroidism .

When a kid has one of these thyroid problems, doctors can treat it with medicine or, sometimes, surgery.

Treating An Underactive Thyroid

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Treatment for an underactive thyroid involves taking daily hormone replacement tablets, called levothyroxine, to raise your thyroxine levels.

You’ll initially have regular blood tests until the correct dose of levothyroxine is reached. This can take a little while to get right.

Once you’re taking the correct dose, you’ll usually have a blood test once a year to monitor your hormone levels.

You’ll usually need treatment for the rest of your life. However, with proper treatment, you should be able to lead a normal, healthy life.

If an underactive thyroid is not treated, it can lead to complications, including heart disease, goitre, pregnancy problems and a life-threatening condition called myxoedema coma .

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Hormone Imbalances: Overactive And Underactive Thyroid Gland

An overactive thyroid occurs if the thyroid gland makes too many hormones. An underactive thyroid is where the gland doesnt make enough hormones. Both of these imbalances can lead to a great number of symptoms.

The thyroid gland may grow in size too. Sometimes the whole thyroid gland becomes enlarged , and sometimes individual lumps called nodules grow in the gland . A special examination, known as thyroid scintigraphy, can be used to see whether these nodules are producing abnormal amounts of hormones. If they make more hormones than the rest of the thyroid tissue, they are called hot nodules. If they make less, they are called cold nodules.

In most cases, an enlarged thyroid or nodules arent caused by anything serious. They are only rarely cancer. But its still important to see a doctor if you notice any changes in your thyroid gland.

In People With Thyroid Disease

In people being treated for hypothyroidism, a low TSH level may mean:

  • Overmedication with thyroid hormone replacement
  • Interactions that cause increased absorption or activity despite an optimal dose of medication
  • Central hypothyroidism

In people being treated for hyperthyroidism, a low TSH level usually means that further treatment is needed to reduce thyroid hormone levels.

It could also mean that a person must continue to be monitored to make sure thyroid hormone levels return to normal. This is often the case for people who have temporary thyroiditis related to pregnancy or chemotherapy treatment.

  • Treatment may need to be more aggressive

  • Medication may not be absorbing enough

  • Treatment may be more aggressive than needed

  • Medication may be absorbing too much

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What You Can Do To Get Healthy Thyroid Hormone Levels

After all this thyroid-hormone-levels-gone-wrong talk, youâd be justified in thinking to yourself, âOkay, so how can I get healthy thyroid hormone levels to help avoid a thyroid problem?â

First, make sure youâre getting the right amount of iodine in your diet .

For men and non-pregnant women, the recommended daily allowance for iodine is 150 micrograms . For pregnant women, that number rises to 220 mcg per day â and 290 mcg a day for women who are breastfeeding.

If you want to check if you have an underactive thyroid gland âor if youâre interested in finding out if you have high thyroid levelsâgetting a thyroid function test can be a good place to start.

Of course, if your thyroid hormone level isnt within a normal range and you may have a thyroid dysfunction, consult with your healthcare provider to learn what solution is best for you to help get your hormone levels back in balance . If you do have a thyroid disorder or thyroid condition, your healthcare provider may recommend ongoing thyroid testing to monitor results of your treatment plan.

What Are Typical Symptoms Of Hyper

What Does Your Thyroid Do? 10 Important Functions You Should Know

Typical symptoms for hyperthyroidism is weight loss, fast heart rate, high irritability/nervousness, muscle weakness and tremors, infrequent menstrual periods, sleep problems, eye irritations and heat sensitivity.

Symptoms for hypothyroidism is the contrary of hyperthyroidism such as weight gain, slower heart rate, fatigue, more frequent and stronger menstrual periods, forgetfulness, dry skin and hair, hoarse voice and intolerance to cold. In addition, hypothyroidism is often accompanied by an enlargement of the thyroid gland known as goitre.

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Hypothyroidism Diagnosis And Treatment

Your doctor will perform blood tests to measure your TSH and thyroid hormone levels. A high TSH level and low thyroxine level could mean that your thyroid is underactive. These levels could also indicate that your pituitary gland is releasing more TSH to try to stimulate the thyroid gland to make its hormone.

The main treatment for hypothyroidism is to take thyroid hormone pills. Its important to get the dose right, because taking too much thyroid hormone can cause symptoms of hyperthyroidism.

How To Prepare For An Ultrasound

Your ultrasound will probably be performed in a hospital. A growing number of outpatient facilities can also perform ultrasounds.

Before the test, remove necklaces and other accessories that can block your throat. When you arrive, youll be asked to remove your shirt and lie on your back.

Your doctor may suggest injecting contrast agents into your bloodstream to improve the quality of the ultrasound images. This is usually done with a quick injection using a needle filled with materials such as Lumason or Levovist, which are made of gas filled with tiny bubbles.

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Questions To Ask Your Endocrinologist:

  • What tests do I need to check my thyroid levels?
  • What are the normal ranges for each hormone?
  • Are my T3, T4, and TSH levels normal?
  • Are my symptoms indicative of a thyroid disorder?
  • How can we correct any issues with the levels through medication or lifestyle changes?
  • Are there any side effects to the medications?
  • How long does it take before the medicine starts to work?

How Can I Promote The Health Of The Thyroid Gland

10 Nutrients to Improve Thyroid Function

Iodine is most essential to maintain a healthy thyroid. Iodine is the critical ingredient for the production of thyroid hormones. We dont need a lot of iodine, it is said that one teaspoon of iodine is enough for a lifetime. Nonetheless, the daily and constant supply of this micronutrient is important. Too much iodine at once is counter-productive and causes your thyroid to produce less hormones. The best way to get your daily dose of iodine is through eating healthy foods like seafood and dairy products. In addition, iodized salt is a good source and you can use it to season your food. Nowadays, iodine is added to salt to combat goitres .

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We Hope You Enjoy Reading This Post

To discover more from our experts about any symptoms youre experiencing,

What are hormones? Hormones are not just any messenger substances they have a significant influence on both our mental and physical health. Without further ado, well introduce you to the most important hormones and their functions.Hormones control sex drive, hunger, fatigue, our mood and much more. It often seems that we are at the mercy of hormonal fluctuations, but there are ways to control them a little for example, through your diet, sleeping pattern and exercise. Well explore these lifestyle aspects further on in this article.

So, what are hormones, and what do hormones do? Youll discover more in this article by getting an overview of the best-known hormones and their significance in our body. Not only that, we will explore hormonal imbalance and other issues associated with hormones in the human body.Find further detailed articles on specific hormones and their function in our body in our Health Portal:

  • Reproduction
  • Emotions and mood

What Common Symptoms Can Happen With Thyroid Disease

There are a variety of symptoms you could experience if you have a thyroid disease. Unfortunately, symptoms of a thyroid condition are often very similar to the signs of other medical conditions and stages of life. This can make it difficult to know if your symptoms are related to a thyroid issue or something else entirely.

For the most part, the symptoms of thyroid disease can be divided into two groups those related to having too much thyroid hormone and those related to having too little thyroid hormone .

Symptoms of an overactive thyroid can include:

  • Experiencing anxiety, irritability and nervousness.
  • Having trouble sleeping.
  • Experiencing an intolerance to cold temperatures.

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Other Thyroid Gland Disorders

Other disorders of the thyroid gland include:

  • Nodules – lumps in the thyroid. Some are groups of uncontrollably overactive thyroid cells. These are called hot nodules and cause hyperthyroidism. Other nodules are cold. These are generally harmless, but about 20 per cent will be cancerous.
  • Cancer – thyroid cancer is uncommon and is readily treatable, especially if detected early.

The Importance Of Thyroid Function

Thyroid function and TSH testing

Your thyroid is a small, butterfly-shaped gland located at the base of the neck, just below the Adams apple. It is a crucial component to the function of many systems and organs, including the heart, brain, liver, kidneys and skin. With January being Thyroid Awareness Month, its important to understand how your thyroid gland functions and to be aware of the warning signs of a problem.

Thyroid gland function

The thyroid gland is part of the endocrine system, which is made up of glands that produce, store and release hormones into the bloodstream so the hormones can reach the bodys cells. Your thyroid gland uses iodine from the foods you eat to make two main hormones: triiodothyronine and thyroxine . It is important that the levels of these hormones are never too high or too low. The hypothalamus and the pituitary glands in the brain work together to maintain these levels.

The functionality of the thyroid gland will affect your bodys overall wellness. Your thyroid gland is responsible for manufacturing enough thyroid hormone to trigger your cells to perform and function at a certain rate. The thyroid hormones regulate vital functions like:

  • Breathing
  • Metabolism

Thyroid problems

When the T3 and T4 hormone levels become too high or too low, your body will develop hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism. Hyperthyroidism occurs when there is too much T3 and T4 in your system. Symptoms of hyperthyroidism include:

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Common Problems And Conditions With The Thyroid

Many problems can arise that have to do with the thyroid gland. Problems start to occur when the thyroid begins producing too much hormone or not enough. This is known as hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism, respectively.

An underactive thyroid is more common than an overactive thyroid . However, each can cause problems.

Here are common problems with the thyroid.

The Essential Mineral Your Thyroid Needs For Proper Functioning

Iodine is a trace element thats found naturally in seawater and soil. Its an essential mineral, which means its a mineral that the body needs to function but that the body doesnt make on its own, so it must be ingested.

Many foods grown in iodine-rich seawater or soil contain all the iodine we need, like fish, seaweed, oysters, cereals and breads, and some fruits and vegetables.

In places where the environment lacks this mineral, it can be added to foods primarily through iodized salt, or taken in multivitamins. Dairy products are high in iodine because of supplements in cattle feed and iodine-containing disinfectants used in the milking process.

The thyroid needs iodine to make hormones that control metabolism, growth and other important systemic functions. When you dont get enough iodine, you can develop thyroid dysfunctions such as goiters or hypothyroidism.

For babies in utero and infancy, iodine is crucial for normal brain and bone development, so pregnant and breastfeeding people must ensure theyre consuming adequate iodine for their developing children.

In the United States, where most people consume iodized products like salt, dairy, cereals and breads, iodine deficiency is very rare. In other parts of the world, particularly mountainous regions like southeast Asia, where the soil is iodine-poor, or where iodized food is not readily available or consumed, people continue suffer from iodine-deficient conditions.

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How Long After My Thyroid Is Removed Will My Tiredness Go Away

Typically, you will be given medication to help with your symptoms right after surgery. Your body actually has thyroid hormone still circulating throughout it, even after the thyroid has been removed. The hormones can still be in your body for two to three weeks. Medication will reintroduce new hormones into your body after the thyroid has been removed. If you are still feeling tired after surgery, remember that this can be a normal part of recovering from any type of surgery. It takes time for your body to heal. Talk to your healthcare provider if you are still experiencing fatigue and other symptoms of thyroid disease after surgery.

Gene And Protein Expression

Thyroid Gland

About 20,000 protein coding genes are expressed in human cells: 70% of these genes are expressed in thyroid cells. Two-hundred fifty of these genes are more specifically expressed in the thyroid, and about 20 genes are highly thyroid specific. In the follicular cells, the proteins synthesized by these genes direct thyroid hormone synthesisthyroglobulin, TPO, and IYD while in the parafollicular c-cells, they direct calcitonin synthesisCALCA, and CALCB.

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How Is Hypothyroidism Diagnosed

It can actually be difficult to diagnose hypothyroidism because the symptoms can be easily confused with other conditions. If you have any of the symptoms of hypothyroidism, talk to your healthcare provider. The main way to diagnose hypothyroidism is a blood test called the thyroid stimulating hormone test. Your healthcare provider may also order blood tests for conditions like Hashimotos disease. If the thyroid is enlarged, your provider may be able to feel it during a physical exam during an appointment.

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Lab Results

Your complete thyroid blood panel should include TSH, free triiodothyronine , free thyroxine ,and TPO antibodies. Having this information helps to determine the cause of your under- or over-active thyroid.

Lab results read as positive or negative concerning whether you have TPO antibodies present in your blood sample.

Suppose you show a negative result for TPO antibodies. In that case, it means that there were no TPO antibodies discovered in your blood. Therefore, if you have symptoms of a thyroid condition, it is unlikely that an autoimmune disorder causes them.

If you show a positive result for TPO antibodies, it may mean you have:

Hashimotos disease

The diagnosis is made if you have high levels of TPO antibodies and high levels of thyroglobulin a protein produced by the thyroid.

Graves disease

The diagnosis is made if you have high levels of TPO antibodies and high levels of thyroid-stimulating hormone receptor antibodies.

Thyroid ultrasound

A TPOAb test is not the only indicator of Hashimotos. A study from California Northstate University suggests that 10% of patients with Hashimotos may have negative blood work for TPO antibodies.

Use the same laboratory

Test results are only meaningful when compared to reference ranges. Reference ranges are the values expected for a healthy person.

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