What is the Thyroid?
The thyroid is a gland located on the front of the neck, and below your Adam's apple. You cannot feel a healthy thyroid gland. The thyroid gland produces a hormone that interacts with nearly all the metabolic processes in the human body. It is responsible for biological metabolism, growth, development, and maintaining the temperature of the body. This also includes how efficiently your body burns calories, which can lead to weight gain. Earlier in life, it has a direct effect on how the brain develops. Women are ten times more likely to have thyroid problems than men.Common Symptoms of Thyroid Malfunction
- Sudden changes in weight
- Heart Palpitations
- Increase blood pressure
- Shaky hands
- Weak feeling pertaining to muscle strength
- Increased bowel movements
- Change in menstrual cycles
- Mental fatigue
- Pain when swallowing
Thyroid Diseases and functional problems stem from a chemical imbalance in the body due to either too much of the hormone produced (called hyperthyroidism) or too little produced (called hypothyroidism). Either way, a chemical imbalance is having a direct effect on the normal function of your body.
Hyperthyroidism is commonly referred to as an overactive thyroid, meaning the thyroid is producing more hormone than required by the body. The most likely cause is an issue with the body's autoimmune system called Graves.' Disease
. This disease runs in families and affects younger women. The body's autoimmune system starts producing an antibody that stimulates the production of the hormone. Other thyroid diseases include:
- Toxic Adenomas: This is when nodules appear in the thyroid gland and produce thyroid hormones, which creates a chemical imbalance.
- Subacute Thyroiditis: When the thyroid is inflamed causing it to produce excess hormones. This can be a temporary condition lasting a month or two, but can reappear at the next onset of inflammation.
- Pituitary gland malfunctions: Also known as cancerous growths in the thyroid gland, which are considered very rare.
Hypothyroidism is most likely caused by inflammation of the thyroid, which can be an autoimmune disorder where you body is trying to attack and eliminate the thyroid gland. This is called called Thyroiditis; it can also be caused by an infection from a virus. Other causes include:
- Medications: Some medications prescribed for cardiovascular disease, mental health issues, and cancer treatments can result in an underactive thyroid.
- Iodine Deficient Diet:
Your body doesn't produce its own iodine, but it is needed for the thyroid to produce its hormone. Iodine is absorbed in the body by eating salt, and salty foods.
- You're Pregnant: Pregnancy can cause inflammation of the thyroid, which is called Postpartum Thyroiditis.
- Improperly Developed Thyroid: Some children are born with a poorly functioning thyroid.