UNDERSTANDING THYROID FUNCTION AND DIAGNOSING THYROID ISSUES
Written by , Article reviewed and edited by Dr. Fine M.D.
Published on 10 February 2021
The Thyroid Gland is a tiny organ located just beneath the Adam's Apple. Despite its diminutive size and butterfly-like shape, it has a powerful effect on human health and physiology. A healthy thyroid is one of the keys to unlocking full vitality. Hypothyroidism is a condition in which the Thyroid gland is under-active, and it's a common condition that impacts the lives of around 20 million people in the United States. Hypothyroidism is prevalent, but it is also distressingly under-diagnosed. It's estimated that approximately 60% of people with Hypothyroidism don't even know it!
What Does the Thyroid Do?
The Thyroid Gland manages the distribution of energy to meet the human body's disparate needs. The Thyroid is essentially the control center for metabolism. That means that if the Thyroid goes haywire, it can affect pretty much every system in the human body.
The thyroid gland is most well-known for its effects on metabolism and thermoregulation, but it's also imperative to several other aspects of human function. It promotes good vision, strength, and fertility. It also maintains the muscles and promotes healthy psychological and cognitive function. Even your nails and skin benefit from a functional Thyroid. Because the Thyroid's effects are so important and so widespread, it can often make accurate diagnosis of Thyroid Problems a challenge.
What Are Some Signs That I Should Have My Thyroid Checked?
Thyroid Issues are hard to pinpoint because there is no checklist of symptoms set-in-stone that every patient will experience. Some people may display small signs of Thyroid Imbalance, such as a disrupted sleep cycle, the onset of anxiety/depression, or slight changes in baseline metabolism/body temperature. Other people may experience more severe symptoms such as sudden and dramatic changes in blood pressure/blood sugar that can be very dangerous.
If you've noticed recent changes in your mental, cardiovascular, or neurological health, this could be a sign of Thyroid Issues. Tough-to-treat anxiety and depression are very common signs of Thyroid Problems. If you think you may have Thyroid Problems, even if you notice very few symptoms, you should get yourself checked out. Most patients only experience a small set of symptoms that they can perceive, and other symptoms are diagnosed by a doctor.
Hypothyroidism vs. Hyperthyroidism
As previously mentioned, the most common form of Thyroid Disorder is Hypothyroidism. This condition suppresses metabolic activity in various ways system-wide. It slows down body and mind, decreasing your ability to initiate and sustain increased activity levels. It also slows down healing and regeneration, suppresses heart rate, limits cognitive capacity, and reduces the rate at which various organ systems operate. While severe Hypothyroidism becomes easier to diagnose, early signs can appear relatively mild, even if your health and vitality would benefit greatly from treatment.
Hyperthyroidism, on the other hand, is a condition in which your Thyroid is signaling for too much activity. While not nearly as common as Hypothyroidism, both conditions are very dangerous to your long-term health if the they reach a certain level of severity. Some of the more noticeable hyperthyroidism symptoms include racing mind, rapid heartbeat, anxiety, diarrhea, increased appetite, and unexplained weight loss.
Getting Appropriate Treatment for Thyroid Issues
One issue with Thyroid Treatment in the United States is that you may have to go to a Hormone Specialist or reach out for a second opinion to get the treatment that you need. Sleep cycles, heart rate, blood pressure, and cholesterol all provide strong evidence for diagnosis and treatment. While Thyroid Hormone Treatments are very effective and have a very low risk of significant side-effects, some doctors may be more reluctant to sign off on Thyroid Hormone Testing than others.
The medical professionals associated with the American College of Endocrinology believe that all patients that suspect Thyroid Issues should get tested for Thyroid Disorders. Early testing and diagnosis can save a lot of headaches later on. While doctors try to work in your best interest, if you firmly believe that Thyroid Insufficiency or Hyperthyroidism is having a negative impact on your life, make the active effort to ensure you get the treatment that you deserve.