The body is an amazing creation, however, like any machine it can sometimes have a breakdown for no apparent reason. A healthy body is high on the list of everyone’s concerns but there are times when it gives out warning signals that there’s a problem. One problem to look out for is a malfunctioning thyroid gland that can have some unpleasant effects if not treated.
The thyroid gland is lodged between the larynx and the collarbone and is in the shape of a butterfly. It pushes out thyroid hormone that controls the body’s metabolism and temperature. It works throughout the body and when functioning normally regulates many of the body’s functions, such as keeping hair, nails and skin healthy, keeping the bowels moving, ensuring periods are regular and that the brain retains its sharpness.
To return to the machine analogy, if one part of it malfunctions it can have a knock on effect on the rest of the system, and the same is true of the body. A malfunctioning thyroid can go one of two ways: it can produce too much of the thyroid hormone, known as hyperthyroidism, or too little, called hypothyroidism. The latter is the most common and both disorders tend to affect women more than men. A thyroid disorder can often be genetically based and can also happen after pregnancy.
Hypothyroidism can sometimes take a while to detect, but there are a number of warning signs to look out for. There may be a sudden or unexpected weight gain, but as this could be down to a number of other possibilities, doctors also check for other symptoms. These include tiredness, frequent chills, hair loss, dry skin, constipation, irregular periods and forgetfulness. As the hormone regulates the amount of energy that gets to the body’s cells, another warning sign might be weakness during a workout or other exercise that had not previously been experienced.
Hyperthyroidism tends to be easier to identify, with a torrent of additional hormone released that can give the system a real shock. Sufferers from an overactive thyroid may have symptoms that include sudden weight loss, insomnia, rapid heartbeat or attacks of diarrhea. They may also find that they feel wired all the time, as when continually drinking coffee.
Both disorders can have a nasty effect on life in general, and if left untreated could lead to more serious ailments such as high cholesterol, chronic depression, and infertility and cardiac problems.
What To Do!
If a thyroid disorder is suspected it’s important to get checked over by a doctor. A simple blood screening test, known as TSH (Thyroid Stimulating Hormone) will detect if there is a malfunctioning gland. If a problem is unearthed there are drugs available to help control the condition. For hypothyroidism it’s likely that a doctor will prescribe a course of a synthetic thyroid hormone to increase hormone levels and re-balance the body. Sufferers from hyperthyroidism will receive a drug to slow down the overactive gland. Dosage for both conditions is usually taken daily and is generally highly effective.