What is the thyroid?
The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland located in the front of your neck just under the voicebox. This organ controls hormone levels in our bodies and is very important. Your thyroid is responsible for:
- Releasing hormones important for growth
- Supporting bone metabolism
- Regulating your metabolism
Everyone’s thyroid is unique. We all produce a different amount of thyroid hormones. These hormones support in controlling appetite, metabolism, and activity levels. Typically, we have constant levels of thyroid hormones circulating in our bodies, but life events like pregnancy can fluctuate these hormone levels. When our bodies make insufficient amounts of thyroid hormones, this is known as hypothyroidism.
Hypothyroidism is a common type of thyroid disease. Women are more likely than men to have thyroid dysfunction. In fact, one in eight women will develop conditions like hypothyroidism during her lifetime.
Hypothyroidism is known as an underactive thyroid. If you have an underactive thyroid, your body fails to make enough hormones. This results in slowed body functions like metabolism, irregular periods, and difficulty with pregnancy.
Hypothyroidism can be caused by any number of things. The most common causes of this disease are:
- Thyroid alterations (e.g., thyroid surgery or radiotherapy) or prior thyroid problems
- Hashimoto’s disease: an autoimmune disease that damages the thyroid gland
- Iodine deficiency
- Inborn disorder
Signs and Symptoms
How do you know if you have hypothyroidism? Unfortunately, symptoms vary from person to person. Many people experience an initial decrease in energy and have a slower metabolism. Depending on the person, you may also experience:
- Weight gain
- Dry, pale skin
- Slower heart rate
- Heart disease
- Memory Loss
Diagnosis & Treatment
If you feel like you are experiencing symptoms from hypothyroidism, there are a few ways you can be checked and receive a formal diagnosis. The most common method is through blood testing. There are two blood tests that doctors used to diagnose hypothyroidism.
- Thyroid-Stimulating Hormone (TSH) test: This is the most important and sensitive test for hypothyroidism. TSH measures how much of the thyroid hormone your thyroid gland is being asked to make. An abnormally high TSH means hypothyroidism.
- T4 test: This test measures how much thyroid hormone is in your blood.
Once diagnosed, you’ll need to start managing your hypothyroidism. Unfortunately, there is no cure but there are ways to manage this condition disease. One of the best ways to control hypothyroidism is through diet. It’s important to eat nutritious foods, increase dietary fiber, and eliminate excess carbohydrates. According to the American Thyroid Association, when hypothyroidism is treated you can expect weight loss (sometimes up to 10% decrease in weight). Once hypothyroidism is treated and thyroid hormone levels are normal, weight loss and weight gain will be balanced.
If you struggle with weight loss and suspect a thyroid issue, contact us at Cederquist Medical Wellness Center. We can test for hypothyroidism and help you manage your symptoms. Our team of providers delivers services including developing a nutrition plan specific to your dietary needs. We can help you maintain a healthy, filling diet while losing weight. If you are interested in improving your nutrition status, give us a call at (239) 288-2789 to schedule an appointment.