5 FACTS YOU DIDN'T KNOW ABOUT YOUR THYROID
Time to read 4 min
Time to read 4 min
‘Thyroid’...we’ve all got one, but how many of us can truly say we know exactly where it is, what it does and why it’s so important? As many of us are now prioritising our health and wellness, it's the perfect time to shed light on why thyroid health is essential to the body and what symptoms to keep an eye out for if you think something isn't quite right. Keep reading for a little more info on this super important gland.
Did you know, around 1 in 20 people experience a form of thyroid dysfunction in their lifetime, and recent research suggests that women are affected ten times more often than men worldwide. All the more reason to keep an eye out for low thyroid function symptoms!
The Thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland located in the lower front of the neck above your collarbone and below your voice box. It is a part of the endocrine system and produces essential hormones (Thyroxine and Triiodothyronine) that influence and help control the way your body functions on a cellular level. For example, it is responsible for regulating body temperature, brain growth and development, energy levels, and metabolic processes. So, as you can see, it plays a pretty vital role essential to your overall wellbeing, and ensuring it's in top shape is imperative for an efficiently functioning body!
As the Thyroid gland is responsible for many functions in the body, watching out for symptoms indicative of low thyroid function is vital for the early management of any prospective thyroid disorders. When it comes to these symptoms, though, the tricky thing is that they can be pretty vague and non-specific, which leaves thyroid disorders as an often prominent suspect when investigating other possible health conditions.
As we know, the Thyroid gland produces hormones to modulate numerous metabolic processes, including energy expenditure and growth. When this hormone production slows down to an unusually low level, it could be a sign of a health condition known as Hypothyroidism/ underactive Thyroid. Hypothyroidism is more common in women than men and often goes misdiagnosed as the gradually progressive symptoms, which can differ between individuals, can similarly mirror those of other medical conditions. So, how do you know if your hormone production has slowed down?
Check out some common Hypothyroidism symptoms below:
Unexplained weight gain and fluid retention
Fatigue and low energy levels
Intolerance to cold temperatures
Fatigues and aching muscles
Depression and low mood
Dry, coarse skin
Low libido/decreased fertility
Hypothyroidism can develop from many differing factors - autoimmune diseases, family history, with age, specific medications, and radiation therapy, to name a few. In particular, it is recommended for women, especially those over 45 years, to have their thyroid hormone levels screened regularly to aid with the early detection of Hypothyroidism. Early recognition is highly beneficial when looking at treatment options, with results being discovered usually through routine blood tests or after symptoms have begun. When treating Hypothyroidism, generally supplementing hormone levels with artificial hormones is the most common and effective way to assist your body to function well again, along with the ongoing support from your general practitioner or specialist.
Hyperthyroidism is a widespread Thyroid disorder affecting more than 500,000 people in Australia each year, mostly in people aged over 50 years and again more common in women than men. This disorder occurs when the thyroid gland is overactive - so your body is working harder and faster, producing more thyroid hormones than needed. So, how do you know if you have Hyperthyroidism? First, check out some of the common symptoms below.
Brittle hair/ hair loss
Swollen thyroid gland
Increased metabolic rate
Restlessness and irritability
Irregular menstrual cycles in women
Nausea and vomiting
Serious factors may influence hormone overproduction from the thyroid gland. Notable causes such as Graves Disease (autoimmune disease), tumour or infection of the thyroid gland, certain tumours of the ovaries, testes and pituitary gland, and excessive iodine intake via diet, supplements, or medications can all contribute to Hyperthyroidism. Diagnosis is achieved via physical examination or a simple blood test measuring thyroid hormone levels. Unfortunately, there is no cure for Hyperthyroidism; however, the condition can be managed with medication, radioiodine therapy, and in some cases, surgery.
Unfortunately, when it comes to thyroid disorders, some serious risk factors come into play that could increase your chances of developing a thyroid disease. We've mentioned that women are already at a higher risk than men, which also links to family history, with most thyroid conditions being caused by autoimmunity. These conditions have a genetic link, so those with a family history of thyroid disorders and other autoimmune conditions are at a higher risk of developing thyroid disease. In addition, many lifestyle risk factors may also increase your chances of developing a disorder, for example, smoking - with tobacco containing specific substances that can affect the production of thyroid hormones due to increased inflammation. Another serious lifestyle risk factor is high levels of psychological stress. Stress may encourage more hormones to be released into the bloodstream, shifting your body systems into a heightened state - this is often referred to as a thyroid storm. If left untreated, it can have some pretty severe impacts like heart failure, difficulty breathing, or coma.
So there you have it, who would have thought this butterfly-shaped gland could have such a significant impact on our overall wellbeing? But, of course, like any other condition or symptoms you may be experiencing, getting some professional medical advice is the best place to start!
At ASN, we have many hormone supporting products by some of the most well-known and reputable brands on the market, including Project U, ATP Science, and RCN Nutrition, to name a few. If you would like to know more about these products and how they can support your health, reach out to our online team or pop into your local store for a friendly chat. We'd love to see you!