The thyroid is a complex structure of critical importance to our health. Many are not aware of the impressive influence that the thyroid wields.
Functions of the body such as weight management, temperature regulation, cognitive function, energy level and mood are all connected to the thyroid. Therefore, thyroid dysfunction can cause you to experience significant and sometimes debilitating symptoms – see the full list of thyroid symptoms here.
There are three primary aspects to be aware of regarding the thyroid: its function, known issues and diseases, and optimal treatment.
Understanding the basics of thyroid function promotes and supports better health practices.
The thyroid is a small gland roughly the size of a walnut located in the neck. Its powerful influence is exerted through the use of thyroid hormones. These hormones interact with nearly every cell in the body and affect their metabolism. Controlling metabolic function of these cells essentially dictates their activity.
This hormonal hub is part of the endocrine system as are the hypothalamus and pituitary. These three systems form the HPT axis (hypothalamic-pituitary-thyroid axis). When working together effectively, these systems coordinate and regulate proper hormone communication, function, and balance.
A major component of thyroid wellness is maintaining proper levels of specific hormones. If these systems begin malfunctioning, you’ll experience widespread dysfunction.
Dysfunction and Disease
Because thyroid hormones are highly integral to bodily function, any sort of disruption can lead to an array of symptoms. There are two primary forms of thyroid dysfunction, hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism.
When the thyroid is incapable of producing enough thyroid hormone to keep the body running optimally a patient is considered to be hypothyroid. The condition can be caused by multiple factors including poor communication between systems, inhibited conversion of thyroid hormones, impeded hormone receptivity, and thyroid disease.
A common cause of hypothyroidism is the autoimmune condition known as Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. Regardless of the cause, hypothyroidism results in a slowing down of numerous bodily functions that can bring about symptoms such as fatigue, sluggishness, weight gain, and difficulty thinking clearly.
The other primary form of thyroid dysfunction is known as hyperthyroidism. This condition causes an acceleration of thyroid production resulting in hastening of bodily functions. Patients suffering from hyperthyroidism frequently experience anxiety, jitteriness, rapid weight loss, sensitivity to heat, and bouts of extreme fatigue following states of high energy.
The main contributor to hyperthyroidism is the autoimmune condition called Graves’ disease. Other factors such as thyroid nodules, genetic predisposition, and goiter can also lead to hyperthyroidism.
Thyroid conditions affect the body in unique ways. Therefore, each case requires individualized treatment in order to be fully resolved.
Unfortunately, many medical practitioners rely on ineffective testing and suboptimal treatment methods to get their patients to a standardized range of health. Generally, this includes thyroid hormone replacement therapy, which involves supplying the body with an external source of thyroid hormones in the form of a daily pill. However, for many patients, this is not enough to reach optimal health. Effectively treating thyroid dysfunction and eliminating contributing conditions requires that doctors and patients work together to create an individualized treatment plan to optimize thyroid function.
Scratching the Surface
The body contains numerous systems that are difficult to understand without greater research and study. The thyroid is one such system.
Acquiring a basic understanding of the thyroid helps improve individual health and supports future wellness. For a more in-depth and easy to comprehend discussion of the thyroid consider reading Thyroid 101 from Holtorf Medical Group. This E-book offers a deeper look into various aspects of the thyroid including, its function, agents of malfunction, treatment methods, and resources for finding the ideal thyroid expert.
Engaging in the content found in Thyroid 101 gives you the power to support your thyroid and achieve greater wellness.