Through the hormones it produces, the thyroid gland influences almost all of the metabolic processes in your body. Thyroid disorders can range from a small, harmless enlarged gland that needs no treatment to life-threatening cancer. The most common thyroid problems involve abnormal production of thyroid hormones. Too much thyroid hormone results in a condition known as hyperthyroidism. Insufficient hormone production leads to hypothyroidism. Although the effects can be unpleasant or uncomfortable, most thyroid problems can be managed well if properly diagnosed and treated.
Your thyroid is a small gland found at the base of your neck, just below your Adam’s apple. The thyroid produces two main hormones called T3 and T4. These hormones travel in your blood to all parts of your body. The thyroid hormones control the rate of many activities in your body. These include how fast you burn calories and how fast your heart beats. All of these activities together are known as your body’s metabolism. A thyroid that is working right will produce the right amounts of hormones needed to keep your body’s metabolism working at a rate that is not too fast or too slow. If you’re a woman over 35 your odds of a thyroid disorder are high.
• You’re exhausted
• You’re feeling down
• You feel jittery and anxious
• Your appetite or taste buds are altered
• Your brain feels fuzzy
• You’ve lost your interest in sex
• You’re feeling all fluttery
• Heart palpitations
• Your skin is dry
• Your bowels are unpredictable
• Your periods have changed
• You have painful extremities or muscles
• You have high blood pressure
• Feeling cold or having chills
• You’re hoarse or your neck feels funny
• Your sleep schedule is messed up
• You’ve gained weight
• Your hair is thinning or falling out
• You have trouble getting pregnant
• You have high cholesterol
If you have one or more of these symptoms and suspect it’s your thyroid, see your doctor and ask for a thyroid stimulating hormone test, Free T3, and Free T4 tests. Based on test results, you may be prescribed synthetic hormones. Testing and treating a thyroid disorder takes a bit of trial-and-error so expect to visit the doctor a few times before the dosage is right.