How will I know if I have a possible thyroid problem?
Thyroid disorders are a common health concern for women, with approximately 1 in 8 women facing these issues during their lifetime, as reported by the Office on Women's Health. The thyroid, a small gland in the neck, plays a crucial role in regulating various bodily functions, such as heart rate, metabolism, and growth. It's important for women to be aware of thyroid conditions, their associated symptoms, and ways to support their thyroid health.
Common Thyroid Problems & Symptoms
The thyroid gland releases hormones known as triiodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine (T4), which play a critical role in regulating various aspects of your health, including weight, energy levels, body temperature, skin health, hair growth, and more. Imbalances in these hormone levels can lead to thyroid disorders, which could affect your well-being and lead to these disorders:
Hyperthyroidism occurs when your body produces too much thyroxine. According to the Mayo Clinic, common symptoms of hyperthyroidism or overactive thyroid include:
Unintentional weight loss, even when your appetite and food intake stay the same or increase
Rapid heartbeat (tachycardia) — commonly more than 100 beats a minute
Irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia)
Pounding of your heart (palpitations)
Nervousness, anxiety, and irritability
Tremor — usually a fine trembling in your hands and fingers
Changes in menstrual patterns
Increased sensitivity to heat
Changes in bowel patterns, especially more frequent bowel movements
An enlarged thyroid gland (goiter), which may appear as a swelling at the base of your neck
Fatigue, muscle weakness
Fine, brittle hair
There could be several reasons that your body could produce too much T4, including:
Graves' disease - Graves' disease is an autoimmune condition in which the immune system produces antibodies that stimulate the thyroid into producing too much thyroxine or T4.
Overactive thyroid nodules - Sometimes, our thyroid glands can have lumps on them called adenomas that can also produce thyroid hormones. In some cases of hyperthyroidism, adenomas are the cause of the overproduction of T4.
Thyroiditis - Thyroiditis is the inflammation of the thyroid gland, which can occur after pregnancy or due to autoimmune disorders. When the thyroid gland is inflamed, excess thyroxine could be released into the bloodstream.
Hypothyroidism, or underactive thyroid, is the opposite of hyperthyroidism, wherein the thyroid gland doesn't produce enough thyroid hormones. The Mayo Clinic says that those with hypothyroidism may experience unexplainable weight gain and some of the following symptoms:
Increased sensitivity to cold
Elevated blood cholesterol level
Muscle aches, tenderness, and stiffness
Pain, stiffness, or swelling in your joints
Heavier than normal or irregular menstrual periods
Slowed heart rate
Enlarged thyroid gland (goiter)
These symptoms usually develop over a number of years and maybe attributed to other health concerns or age, making hypothyroidism slightly more difficult to catch and treat. One may develop hypothyroidism for a number of reasons including:
Hashimoto's thyroiditis - Hashimoto's thyroiditis is an autoimmune disease where the immune system produces antibodies that attack the thyroid gland and cause swelling and inflammation. The thyroid gland then produces less T3 and T4, leading to hypothyroidism.
Thyroid surgery - Some individuals need to have part of or all of the thyroid gland removed, thus preventing the gland from producing the necessary thyroid hormones. These individuals often have to take supplemental hormones for the rest of their life.
Radiation treatments - According to the Mayo Clinic, "radiation used to treat cancers of the head and neck can affect your thyroid gland and may lead to hypothyroidism."
Over-response to hyperthyroidism treatment - Sometimes those with hyperthyroidism are given radioactive iodine or anti-thyroid medications to slow the overproduction of thyroid hormones. After the thyroid returns to normal, however, treatment can go too far and permanently cause hypothyroidism.
If you believe that you are experiencing signs or symptoms of a thyroid problem, talk to your doctor about getting tested and possible treatment options. The decision to undergo testing and any subsequent treatment should only be discussed with a qualified healthcare professional. They will likely order a blood test to test for thyroid hormones levels in the blood. This test is referred to as a thyroid function test, and tests for both thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) and thyroxine in the blood. According to the National Health Service, "A high level of TSH and a low level of T4 in the blood could mean you have an underactive thyroid. If your test results show raised TSH but normal T4, you may be at risk of developing an underactive thyroid in the future."
How to Support a Healthy Thyroid
If you're at risk of developing a thyroid disease or have already been diagnosed with one, there are changes you can make to your routine and treatment options available that can help support healthy thyroid function and a healthy lifestyle. Talk to your healthcare provider before adding any dietary supplement or medication to your routine to prevent unwanted interactions with preexisting conditions or medications.
Change up Your Diet - Eating a well-balanced, healthy meal is good for anyone, but especially if you want to support your thyroid health. The foods you should eat and avoid vary depending on if you have an overactive or underactive thyroid.
If you have concerns about your thyroid health or specific dietary needs, it's advisable to consult with a healthcare provider or registered dietitian for personalized guidance. They can provide recommendations tailored to your unique health circumstances and dietary preferences.
There are certain supplements and vitamins that you may consider incorporating into your routine to support a healthy lifestyle and thyroid function. However, it's essential to stress that before adding any dietary supplement to your regimen, including thyroid support supplements, you should consult with your healthcare provider. They can provide guidance tailored to your individual health needs and potential interactions with other medications or conditions.
When exploring thyroid support supplements, you may want to look for products that contain the specific ingredients below. However, remember that the suitability of any supplement should be determined in consultation with a healthcare professional who can assess your specific health situation.
Selenium - Selenium is naturally found in the thyroid at high levels, and a deficiency can lead to thyroid problems. This mineral helps protect the thyroid gland from oxidative stress.
Iodine - As mentioned before, the thyroid gland requires iodine to produce thyroid hormones, which is why it's vital to get enough through our diet and supplements. While iodine deficiency is rare in western countries, it has been linked to thyroid disease. Zinc - Zinc is involved in thyroid health in a couple of ways. First, it is required to make TSH or thyroid-stimulating hormone, which is required to create the thyroid hormones triiodothyronine and thyroxine. Additionally, zinc is used in the deiodination process that converts thyroxine into triiodothyronine that our body uses for energy.
Iron - Iron, like zinc, is another mineral required by the body to convert T4 into T3. Iron deficiency has been linked to hypothyroidism and thyroid disease.
B vitamins - More specifically, vitamin B12, can be important for thyroid health as it "plays an important role in red cell metabolism". Plus, low levels of vitamin B12 have been linked to thyroid disorders, with one study showing that out of 116 participants with hypothyroidism, about 40% were deficient in vitamin B12 as well.
Bladderwrack - Bladderwrack is a type of brown seaweed that contains high levels of iodine, which is required to produce thyroid hormones.
Thyroid Treatment and Medications
Your doctor may recommend further medical treatments to support your thyroid and overall health. Those who have been diagnosed with hypothyroidism or underactive thyroid are usually prescribed a synthetic thyroid hormone medication. According to the Mayo Clinic, "This oral medication restores adequate hormone levels, reversing the signs and symptoms of hypothyroidism." For those who have been diagnosed with an overactive thyroid or hyperthyroidism, there are several treatment options that you and your doctor may discuss:
Radioactive Iodine - In this treatment, radioactive iodine is taken orally to shrink the size of the thyroid gland. Results are usually seen within several months.
Anti-thyroid medications - Medications like methimazole and propylthiouracil work by preventing the thyroid gland from producing excessive amounts of thyroid hormones.
Surgery (thyroidectomy) - Certain individuals that cannot handle anti-thyroid medications or radioactive iodine ingestion may be candidates to have part of their thyroid gland surgically removed. There are normal surgical risks involved with this procedure, but also the fact that after the removal, medication needs to be taken every day in order to maintain normal hormone levels.
Alternatively, incorporating lifestyle changes can also play a role in maintain thyroid health. However, any significant changes to your healthcare routine should be discussed with your healthcare provider." Or, you can always resort to some lifestyle changes that can help you
1 Body Works to Support Thyroid Health!
At 1 Body, we are committed to providing dietary supplements that are carefully crafted to support your health and well-being. Our Thyroid Support Supplement is one of our offerings, and it contains a blend of essential nutrients, including vitamin B-12 (methylcobalamin), iodine, zinc, selenium, copper, manganese, molybdenum, l-tyrosine, Schizandra, Ashwagandha root, bladderwrack, and cayenne pepper. This formula is developed by experts in the field of modern nutritional science.
Our Thyroid Support Supplement is designed to be gluten-free, soy-free, and hormone-free, making it safe for both men and women. While dietary supplements can play a role in supporting overall health, it's important to remember that they are not a replacement for a balanced diet and a healthy lifestyle.
As with any supplement, we recommend consulting with your healthcare provider before adding it to your routine, especially if you have underlying health conditions or are taking medications.
Please note that this information is provided for educational purposes and to introduce our product. It is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Your healthcare provider can provide personalized guidance based on your specific health needs.