In case you missed it, it’s important to know that your thyroid is no ordinary body organ. The thyroid gland is a butterfly-shaped gland that is located at the base of your neck. Its main function is to convert the iodine found in the foods that you consume into thyroid hormones (TH). According to Antonio Bianco, a medicine professor at the Chicago Rush University, all body cells and tissues are very sensitive to changes in the levels of TH. Thyroid hormones impact most body functions ranging from cognitive functions, energy levels, body temperatures to metabolism. However, recent studies by the American Thyroid Association have shown that out of every eight women, one has either too high or too low amounts of TH in her body.
Experts have not been able to accurately determine the reasons for thyroid functional failures. However, these failures have been in some instances attributed to stress, autoimmune diseases and genetics. According to a report by the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists, more than 30 million Americans suffer from problems associated with thyroid disorders. According to the reports, majority of the victims are women. Furthermore, more than 50% of those cases often go undiagnosed. This is because most people often brush off the common symptoms as the symptoms are often associated with aging or the normal day stress.
The following questions might help you get a brief overview of your health status. If you will have more than one Yes answers for the following questions, then it’s advisable that you ask your personal physician to carry out a simple blood test in order to determine the levels of your hormones. From the results, your doctor will be able to suggest treatment options which will help your thyroid to function normally.
Are you always exhausted despite having enough sleep?
Thyroid hormones stimulate the brain. According to Professor Bianco, when the levels of the hormone are low, a hormonal condition called hypothyroidisms arises. This condition courses through the body veins and slows down body functions hence making you feel sluggish and exhausted. These low hormone levels might also negatively impact on your mood. This is because recent studies have shown a direct relationship between thyroid and serotonin production. When TH levels are low, serotonin hormone production also reduces. Serotonin is the feel-good hormone that is produced in the brain. Are as a result of this low hormone production, you might experience some sorts of memory lapses, for instance, forgetting where you kept your car keys. This is often brought about the inability of the hippocampus to function effectively when TH levels are low.
Do you at times feel wired and jittery?
If you often experience a jittery and wired feeling, it could be an indicator that your thyroid is not functioning normally. This feeling is often brought about by too much secretion of the hormone by the thyroid gland, says Prof. Bianco.
Is your weight changing rapidly?
A thyroid that is not active will slow down your metabolism. This might result in a slower pace of food break down in the body, hence resulting in weight gain. Despite eating the usual amounts of food and maintaining the same exercise lifestyle, you might experience rapid weight gain due to slowed metabolism. A slow functioning thyroid gland may negatively impact on the performance of the kidneys as well. This is because slow metabolism can lead to water retention in the body, hence making the body cells flaccid. However, if your thyroid is overactive, you might experience weight lose. This is because metabolism levels will increase and with the normal food intake, more food will be burnt down.
Do you experience monthly period problems?
According to recent studies, longer and irregular periods that are usually accompanied by heavy flows could be a sign of thyroid hormone imbalance in the body. These conditions often indicate that the hormone is in short supply in the body. Hypothyroidism has a direct link to high prolactin levels. Prolactin is a hormone whose primary role is to stimulate the production of breast milk after giving birth. The hormone is also responsible for regulating the menstrual cycle. With the low production of thyroid hormone, your periods can become heavier and irregular. If there is an overproduction of TH, you might experience periods that are further apart, but lighter.
Does your heart skip a beat at times?
If you have problems with the production of thyroid hormone, you may experience the feeling of your heart skipping a beat. This often occurs when there is an overload of TH in the blood. These high hormonal levels often force the heart to pump faster, hence resulting in a skip of the heart beat. This is because the tissues, at this state, are demanding for blood with more oxygen. In some instances, low TH levels might directly affect how the heart muscles beat. This twitch feeling can be felt in your throat, chest, wrist or any other pulse points.
Do you often feel too cold or too hot?
If you have a thyroid gland that is overactive, your metabolism levels will increase hence leaving you feeling hot and sweaty. On the other hand, if it is underactive, your metabolism levels will reduce. Consequently, your body will try to conserve heat by reducing blood flow to the skin. This can make you feel cold even on a warm day due to vasoconstriction of the blood vessels.
Do you experience problems when you visit the bathroom?
Do you experience problems when pooping? Too low or too high thyroid hormone levels can slow down the effectiveness of the gut muscles. The primary role of the gut muscles is to contract and relax so as to allow the easier movement of its contents through the bowel. Low levels of TH can result in constipation. On the other hand, an overactive thyroid gland can cause ahem and diarrhea.
Do you have dry nails and skin?
High rates of metabolism due to an overactive thyroid gland often results in sweating. Excessive sweating can result in skin becoming dry and flaky and the nails becoming brittle.