An estimated 20 million Americans have some form of thyroid disease, and up to 60 percent of these people are unaware of their condition. One in eight women will develop a thyroid disorder.
Potential signs and symptoms of thyroid imbalance:
The thyroid gland is a small butterfly shaped gland with two lobes. It is situated in the front of your neck, just below the Adams Apple. The thyroid gland is one of the glands of the endocrine system. The thyroid gland has two main functions: the first function is to control metabolism. Metabolism is the rate at which all the chemistry of the body works. The second function is to control growth in early life. The normal thyroid produces a number of different hormones. The main hormones are called thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3). The thyroid produces approximately 80% T4 and 20% T3. T4 is generally considered to be a pro-hormone because it is inactive and only becomes active when converted to T3. However, some researchers believe that T4 does, in fact, have a function.T3 is an active hormone and does all the work of regulating the body’s metabolism. This conversion takes place in the body’s cells and tissues, mainly in the liver. Problems with the liver can upset/affect the body’s conversion of T4 to T3 and can cause problems for the thyroid.
Things can go wrong with the thyroid in two ways: Hyperthyroidism The thyroid produces more thyroid hormone than it should which causes the metabolism to run too fast. This is called hyperthyroidism, an overactive thyroid or Graves’ disease. Hypothyroidism The thyroid produces less thyroid hormone than it should which causes the metabolism to run too slow. Autoimmune thyroid problems are often overlooked and not tested by many healthcare providers. Given the significant impact of this condition on the thyroid, antibodies should routinely be evaluated.
Although a prescription for thyroid hormone replacement is sometimes necessary, the first step should always be to determine why the thyroid is malfunctioning in the first place. Sometimes addressing the underlying cause of the thyroid problem is enough to resolve it without resorting to thyroid hormone replacement.
The two major causes of thyroid disorders are nutrient deficiency (primarily iodine, zinc, and/or selenium) and autoimmune disease.
Many conventionally trained clinicians will simply run a TSH test. However, this misses critical information you need about your patient’s thyroid metabolism potentially causing thyroid hormone imbalance to be overlooked.
Adapted from: http://www.thyroiduk.org.uk/tuk/about_the_thyroid/thyroid_overview.html