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Thyroid and Health: What You Really Need to Know

by Tatiana Alcazar

May 11, 2021

A woman having thyroid problem.
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Did you know that about 20 million people have some form of thyroid disease? The sad part is that 60 percent of them are unaware of their condition. Most of these numbers didn't know how the thyroid and health connection that affect every part of the body.

Although the causes are known, thyroid disease is more prevalent in women, especially those above the age of 40. If left undiagnosed, the disease can put patients at risk of developing serious conditions such as cardiovascular diseases and osteoporosis.

To decrease the risk of these conditions, we should be aware of the factors and symptoms and luckily, it's pretty easy to test for thyroid disease. (03-05-21)

The connection of Thyroid and Health

The thyroid is the gland that produces and releases hormones that are used throughout the body. It is located in front of your neck, just below your Adam's apple (larynx). The normal size of thyroid is two inches, it may be small, but this hormone may affect the entire body’s important functions if it is not functioning well. In fact, thyroid hormones have an important role in our body. From your metabolism, body’s temperature, and how your body burns calories. 

The Two Types Of Thyroid Disease

Both of these conditions may affect the normal function of the thyroid. 

Hypothyroidism

This is a condition caused by Hashimoto’s disease, in which the thyroid gland cannot provide enough thyroid hormone. They associate the symptoms of this condition with slow metabolism, because the primary purpose of these hormones is to control the metabolism hormones. In addition, this disorder is the main cause of Goiter, the enlargement of thyroid gland.

Symptoms include: 

  • Constipation
  • Chest Pain
  • Fatigue
  • Weight Gain
  • Frequent and Strong Menstrual Period
  • Memory Loss
  • Dry Skin and Hair
  • Cold Intolerance

Hyperthyroidism

On the other hand, this condition is caused by Grave’s disease. That means the thyroid is overactive and produces too much hormones. Usually the symptoms are opposite.

Typical symptoms include:

  • Nervousness
  • Tremors
  • Weight Loss
  • Fast Heart Rate
  • Infrequent Menstruation
  • Hot Intolerance
  • Difficulty Sleeping

How Is Thyroid Being Tests

There are times that thyroid disease may be difficult to diagnose because the symptoms may be similar to other conditions. For instance, you may feel the same symptoms when you are pregnant and aging at the same time developing thyroid disease. 

Fortunately, there are tests that could help to determine if the symptoms are caused by the thyroid disease.

Testing Your Thyroid at Home

This is the simplest form of testing for thyroid disease. It can be done in a few minutes.

First, you need a glass of water and a hand-held mirror. While looking into the mirror focus on the lower part of your neck, above the collarbones and just below the larynx (voice box). This is where your thyroid glands are located.

Tip your head back a little bit and take a sizeable sip of water and swallow. As you swallow to look at your neck and check for any bulges or protrusion in the area where the glands are located.

You may have to repeat this process a few times for accuracy. If you notice any protrusions, it’s best you see a doctor.

Blood Tests

These tests are a little bit invasive since they require some blood drawn from the body. Mainly, the tests focus on hormones from the thyroid itself as well as the thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) that’s released by the pituitary gland to trigger your thyroid.

When testing your blood, doctors use a reference range that helps diagnose thyroid disorder. The values on the upper range and those at the lower range suggest that a patient has a sub-clinical thyroid disorder. Often, these disorders have no observable symptoms, especially for people with a strong immune system.

Iodine Uptake Tests

The iodine test tries to establish the amount of iodine absorbed by thyroid glands, which is a key component of thyroid hormone.

This is done by the use of a radioactive measuring device which the doctor first places on your neck to measure how much radioactivity is present on your glands. After that, you’ll be given a small amount of radioactive iodine in the form of a capsule or liquid. After a few hours, the doctor takes another radioactive measurement.

If the results show the whole iodine is spread throughout the gland, then you may have an overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism).

Why Testing for Thyroid Disorders is Important

Testing for thyroid disorders allows patients to get started on treatment early, before the condition worsens. This can be especially helpful for patients with sub-clinical hypothyroidism which has no visible symptoms.

Moreover, when patients start treatment on time, the risks of osteoporosis and cardiovascular diseases are minimized.

Given the high number of people unaware of their thyroid condition, going for tests regularly would be a good way of keeping the condition in check.

Want to boost your overall well-being? Check out this healthy lifestyle plan.

Sources:

  1. Gonzales, E P. "[Normal 131iod ine uptake values at 2 and 24 hours]." NCBI, 2008, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19194625
  2. "Hyperthyroidism (Overactive Thyroid)."WebMD, 1 Nov. 2019, https://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/overactive-thyroid-hyperthyroidism#1

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About the author 

Tatiana Alcazar  -  A software engineer, former IBMer, co-founder of Naravis Corporation and a mom, with a passion for finding the solution and root cause to everything that comes across, including health. It has been a long journey since founding Naravis and trying to find solutions to my leaky gut syndrome and pursue natural health. Throughout this journey I have learned an enormous amount of information (acquired knowledge) and I feel it's my duty to share my knowledge and my experience with you.

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