The role of the hormones is to help the communication inside our body and regulate various processes and functions.
Yet, numerous people suffer from endocrine disorders, which are characterized by dysfunction of our hormones. Ones of the most prevalent are thyroid disorders, which lead to numerous symptoms and health issues, and can be of two main types.
Hypothyroidism affects 4.6% and hyperthyroidism 1.2 percent of the US population.
Hypothyroidism is the condition of a reduced function of the thyroid gland when the blood lacks the needed amounts of the thyroid hormone. The most common symptom is an inability to lose weight despite a healthy diet and regular exercise.
The reduced levels of thyroid hormone in the blood slow down many processes in the body and the person experiences tiredness, fatigue, a lack of energy, and sluggishness.
The slow metabolism lowers the body temperature, especially in the hands and feet. Moreover, people often suffer from constipation, anxiety and depressive episodes.
On the other hand, hyperthyroidism occurs when the thyroid gland is overactive and the levels of thyroid hormone are excessively high. It also affects the metabolism, but in an opposite way- by accelerating the functions.
The most common signs of this disorder include increased perspiration, nervousness, anxiety, and irritability, heart palpitations, muscle weakness, trouble sleeping, thinning of the skin and fine brittle hair.
Women might have a lighter menstrual cycle or not one at all. Initially, it causes extra body energy and then exhausts the body.
Causes of Thyroid Disorders
Thyroid disorders are caused by various factors. The condition when the body has too low levels of thyroid hormone is known as Graves disease and affects 70% of those with hyperthyroidism.
In some cases, the body’s immune system mistakes thyroid gland cells and their enzymes as attackers to the system, and this type of hypothyroidism is an autoimmune disease known as Hashimoto’s thyroiditis.
Hyperthyroidism might also be a result of the development of nodules on the thyroid that slowly grow and increase the output of thyroid hormones in the system. These lumps are known as goiters.
Sometimes, the surgical removal or radiation treatment of the thyroid due to goiters or thyroid cancer treatment causes a lack of thyroid hormone production.
Other causes of thyroid disorders include excessive or reduced iodine levels, damage to the pituitary gland, being born with it (congenital), or inflammation of the thyroid gland.
Diagnosis and treatment
It is estimated that 60% of the people who suffer from some kind of thyroid disorder are not aware of it, and the symptoms are often neglected or misdiagnosed for general fatigue.
Yet, if you experience any of the signs listed above, you should test your thyroid hormone levels/ The most common tests is the one for thyroid-stimulating hormone, or TSH, which also estimates the T3, the active form of thyroid hormone, and T4, a precursor to T3.
You can also test antibodies in order to rule out one of the autoimmune disorders.
In most cases, hypothyroidism is treated with the prescription of a synthetic hormone called levothyroxine, which mimics the action of the T4.
Some patients take antithyroid drugs, beta-blockers, radioactive iodine or undergo surgeries.
Yet, taking these pills does not actually address the root cause of the disorder. The real complete and effective treatment of thyroid disorders should be a combination of medication, a diet and lifestyle changes.
Note that they can also be caused by emotional issues, and stress, so you should look deeper.
Functional medicine doctors and holistic nutritionists focus on the balance in the body and thus treat these issues. They look at the big picture, and they look to various potential root causes.
Environmental factors that might cause the issue include toxins, leaky gut, diet, infection, and stress. They look at digestion, food sensitivities, especially gluten if they suspect the nature of the disorder is autoimmune.
To optimize the function of the thyroid, you should make sure your body has other nutrients in adequate amounts as well, like zinc and selenium.
The integrated nature of the endocrine system requires the testing of other hormones, like cortisol and the sex hormones. Therefore, make sure your health practitioner examines all possible causes of the disorder in order to find the adequate solution and restore your health.