Thyroid disorders are conditions that affect the thyroid gland, a butterfly-shaped endocrine gland in the front of the neck. The thyroid has important roles to regulate numerous metabolic processes and hormones throughout the body, and therefore affects the function of nearly every organ. The thyroid gland is controlled by the pituitary gland and hypothalamus; malfunction of these organs can also affect thyroid function and cause imbalances. We can alleviate symptoms of the following thyroid disorders:
Hypothyroidism occurs when the thyroid gland produces an insufficient amount of thyroid hormone. Hypothyroidism can develop as a result of abnormalities within the thyroid gland, pituitary gland or hypothalamus. Hashimoto’s is the most common form of hypothyroidism. Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is an autoimmune disease in which the body’s immune system attacks the thyroid tissue. Learn more about autoimmune conditions here. Other causes of hypothyroidism may include thyroiditis, congenital hypothyroidism, surgical removal of all or part of the thyroid, radiation treatment, side effects of medications, or as a result of too much or too little iodine in the diet.
About 4.6 % of the U.S. population ages 12 and older have hypothyroidism. Women and those older than 60 years old are more likely to develop hypothyroidism. Hypothyroidism may develop slowly and many people don’t notice symptoms for months or years. Symptoms of hypothyroidism can include fatigue, poor concentration or “mental fog,” dry skin and hair, hair loss, constipation, cold intolerance, fluid retention, weight gain, increased cholesterol levels, muscle cramps and joint aches, leg swelling, decreased perspiration, mood changes, depression, and menstrual irregularities in women. Untreated hypothyroidism can cause complications such as cardiomyopathy, congestive heart failure, or an accumulation of fluid around the lungs (pleural effusion).
Hyperthyroidism refers to excessive production of thyroid hormones by the thyroid gland. Common causes of hyperthyroidism include Graves’ disease, goiter, thyroid nodules that overproduce thyroid hormone, excessive iodine consumption, or conditions affecting the pituitary gland or hypothalamus. Graves’ disease, the most common cause of hyperthyroidism, is an autoimmune disorder in which your immune system attacks the thyroid. Learn more about autoimmune conditions here. Goiter describes enlargement of the thyroid gland, which may be associated with hypothyroidisim, hyperthyroidism or normal thyroid function. Symptoms of Goiter vary by individual. Thyroid nodules are abnormal masses within the thyroid, which may be caused by benign cysts, bengin tumors or cancer of the thyroid. If thyroid nodules are large, they may cause symptoms due to compression of nearby structures.
You are more likely to have hyperthyroidism if you have a family history of thyroid disease, recent pregnancy, are above the age of 60, female gender, or experience other health conditions such as anemia, diabetes, or adrenal insufficiency. Symptoms of hyperthyroidism usually relate to increased metabolism and may include tremors, nervousness or irritability, fast heart rate, fatigue, heat intolerance, increased bowel movements, increased sweating, difficulty concentrating, or unintentional weight loss. In some cases, symptoms may be mild. If left untreated, hyperthyroidism can cause serious problems with the heart, bones, muscles, menstrual cycle, and fertility.
Thyroid disorders are diagnosed with a thorough medical history, physical exam and specialized blood tests to measure levels of thyroid hormones. Other constructs we will examine include inflammation, intestine health, food sensitivities, immune function, and your body’s ability to detoxify pollutants from the environment that are known to contribute to thyroid disease. Conditions of the thyroid can be addressed methodically through identification of other bodily systems interacting with the thyroid and use of an appropriate diet, lifestyle modifications and supplements to achieve superior results towards heath.
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“Hypothyroidism.” National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. August 2016.
“Multiple Chronic Conditions Chartbook.” Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. Department of Health and Human Services. April 2014.