The thyroid is a small, butterfly-shaped gland located at the base of your neck. Despite its small size, the thyroid has an enormous impact on your overall health and wellbeing. This gland is responsible for producing thyroid hormones that regulate your metabolism, heart rate, body temperature, and more.
When the thyroid isn't functioning properly, it can lead to various thyroid disorders. The most common thyroid disorders include hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism, Hashimoto's thyroiditis, and Graves' disease. Understanding these common thyroid problems is key for getting proper treatment and managing symptoms.
Hypothyroidism occurs when the thyroid gland is underactive and doesn't produce enough thyroid hormones. The most common cause is Hashimoto's disease, an autoimmune disorder where the body's immune system mistakenly attacks the thyroid.
Common signs and symptoms of hypothyroidism include fatigue, weight gain, feeling cold, dry skin and hair, constipation, impaired memory, depression, and muscle weakness. Left untreated, hypothyroidism can increase risks for heart disease and other health problems.
While hypothyroidism is often treated with synthetic thyroid medication, this only addresses the symptoms, not the root cause. A more holistic approach would include dietary changes to support thyroid health, stress management, supplements if needed, and identifying and removing potential causes like food sensitivities. This approach aims to restore balance and promote a healthy thyroid.
On the flip side, hyperthyroidism results when the thyroid is overactive and produces too much thyroid hormone. The most common cause is Graves’ disease, another autoimmune disorder.
Common hyperthyroidism symptoms include sudden weight loss, rapid heartbeat, sweating, hand tremors, anxiety, difficulty sleeping, thinning hair, and more frequent bowel movements. If left untreated, hyperthyroidism can potentially lead to osteoporosis, heart complications, and thyroid storm - a sudden worsening of symptoms that is potentially fatal.
While anti-thyroid medications, radioiodine, and surgery are conventional treatments for hyperthyroidism, they can disrupt the thyroid further. A holistic approach would focus on healing the gut to improve autoimmunity, managing stress levels, adopting an anti-inflammatory diet, and supporting thyroid health through nutrition and supplements. This aims to bring the thyroid back into balance gently.
Also known as chronic lymphocytic thyroiditis, Hashimoto’s is the most common cause of hypothyroidism in the United States. It’s an autoimmune disorder where the immune system forms antibodies that attack the thyroid gland, leading to inflammation and damage that reduces hormone output.
Hashimoto’s may initially cause episodes of overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism) which then progress to underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism). Symptoms include weight gain, depression, goiter (enlarged thyroid gland), fatigue, hair loss, sensitivity to cold, and digestive issues.
Hashimoto’s requires ongoing treatment and monitoring. Most patients need to take thyroid hormone medication lifelong to replace missing hormones and relieve symptoms. However, in addition to medication, holistic management of Hashimoto's includes food sensitivity testing, an autoimmune diet protocol, stress reduction, and supplements to provide thyroid support if needed. These steps can help manage symptoms and progression of the condition.
Graves’ disease is the leading cause of hyperthyroidism. Like Hashimoto’s, Graves’ disease is an autoimmune disorder that causes the immune system to make antibodies that overstimulate the thyroid. This excessive stimulation leads to abnormally high levels of thyroid hormones.
In addition to hyperthyroidism symptoms, Graves’ disease can cause bulging eyes, known as Graves’ ophthalmopathy. Eye issues result from inflammation pushing on the muscles and fatty tissues behind the eyes. Vision problems and eye discomfort may occur.
Graves’ disease is usually initially treated with anti-thyroid medications and beta blockers to control symptoms in the short term. Long term treatment may include radioactive iodine or thyroid surgery. Regular eye exams are important for monitoring and managing Grave’s ophthalmopathy.
Yet, while conventional treatments focus on managing thyroid levels, a holistic approach would seek to identify and remove triggers, follow an autoimmune protocol diet, incorporate stress management, and support the thyroid nutritionally. This comprehensive management can help treat the root causes for long-term healing.
Take Charge of Your Thyroid Health
Thyroid disorders are common, but early detection and proper treatment can help manage symptoms and prevent complications. Talk to your doctor if you’re experiencing any persistent symptoms of hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism.
Getting your thyroid tested through an executive health screening is a proactive way to monitor your levels before problems arise. Consider booking our Executive Lab Package [https://www.lifestyle-clinic.com/labconsult] that checks TSH, free T3, free T4, antibodies, and other markers associated with thyroid disorders. Taking charge of your thyroid health puts you on the path to feeling your best.