Hypothyroidism is a disease that affects the thyroid gland, causing a wide assortment of health issues, some of which can be severe. Gaining weight, losing weight, and feeling fatigued all of the time are among the first signs of thyroid disease and can signify various health issues including diabetes.
The thyroid, a small gland, is wrapped around the windpipe in the area of ones Adam’s apple. This small butterfly shaped gland has the main function of producing hormones which are necessary for certain bodily functions. It produces two hormones, thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3). These help oxygen get into body cells. The numbers, T4 and T3 reference a number of molecules of iodine which are present in each hormone molecule.
This tiny gland is the most important gland of a persons metabolism and extremely vital to existence. These are the only cells that are capable of absorbing iodine, a vital ingredient of the human body. This iodine is derived from foods and supplements we take in as part of our daily diet. The addition of iodized salt into the diet has largely been eliminated today due to so many other sources of it. The iodine enriched hormones in our body assist our cells in converting calories and oxygen into energy to help our bodies function efficiently.
Besides weight loss or gain, and feeling extremely fatigued, some of the more serious signs of hypothyroidism are hair loss, sleep apnea, shortness of breath, grittiness of the eyes or sensitivity to light, tinnitus (ringing in the ears), recurrent sinus infections, and vertigo or lightheadedness.
Some of the more commonly know causes of hypothyroidism include exposure to radiation, too much or too little iodine, lithium, use of cordarone (a heart medication), radiation treatments for cancer in the neck, chest, or throat areas, and over consumption of various foods which are considered “goitrongenic”. These vegetables include broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, turnips, and radishes among others, also radioactive treatment for Grave’s disease which involves extensive use of iodine.
Babies born to mothers who have been treated for Grave’s disease while pregnant run a huge risk of being born with or soon developing hypothyroidism.
Problems caused by hypothyroidism vary by the symptoms although most can be controlled with the use of drug therapy, particularly by use of Levothyroxine and other thyroid hormone replacement drugs. In extreme cases, surgery may be called for.
Some practitioners have advocated use of some more integrative methods of treatment including, stress reduction therapy, certain anti thyroid dietary alterations, and including various traditional Chinese types of medicine. What may work for one particular case may not prove beneficial to another.
Among the twenty seven million or so people in the US alone suffering from thyroid disease, most have gone undiagnosed, at least initially. Patients and even many in the medical community find other sources for symptoms to seem more credible and tend to dismiss thyroid issues even though thyroid disease actually affects on almost every aspect of one’s health and is vital to many bodily functions. It is far more commonly diagnosed in women than in men and the risk increases with a person’s age.