The Thyroid Gland is a butterfly-shaped gland between your collarbone and throat. The thyroid plays a major role in your endocrine health by making hormones that regulate metabolism, controls heart rate, and regulates vital organ function. Thyroid diseases include: Goiter, an enlargement of the thyroid gland, Hypothyroidism, a thyroid gland that does not produce sufficient hormones, Hyperthyroidism, an overproduction of thyroid hormones, Thyroid nodules, swollen lumps in the gland, Thyroiditis, thyroid swelling, Grave’s Disease, Hashimoto’s Disease, and Thyroid cancer.
Symptoms of a Thyroid Disorder: Since the thyroid is responsible for the proper operation of so many bodily functions and organs, symptoms of thyroid can vary widely. Here’s a quick list of symptoms that may be thyroid associated:
- Difficulty losing weight
- Irregular, heavy, or light menstrual periods
- Enlarged tongue
- Heart palpitations
- Sensitivity to cold temperatures or feeling abnormally cold
- Depression and anxiety
- Difficulty swallowing
- Shortness of breath
- Visible swelling or lumps in neck
- Memory loss
- Brain fog
Causes of Thyroid Disorders: Thyroid disorders occur due to nutrient deficiencies or autoimmune disorders. Autoimmune disorders like in Hashimoto’s Disease can cause the body to attack thyroid tissue, disrupting proper thyroid function for good. Iodine is a key nutrient for thyroid support, so iodine deficiency can also cause hypothyroidism and goiters. Chronic stress has also been linked to thyroid malfunction as a hormone disruptor. Additionally, a thyroid storm or overactive thyroid which causes a sudden flareup of symptoms can be caused by pregnancy, infection, or injury to the gland itself.
Treatment: Consuming foods rich in iodine can support healthy thyroid function, such as eggs, dairy, and iodized salt (in moderation). Meat and seafood is great for thyroid support as well as vegetables like seaweed and kelp. If you’re having symptoms that may indicate a thyroid disorder, a medical professional might conduct a thyroid scan to look at the size, shape, and position of your thyroid gland using radioactive iodine. Thyroid hormone therapy might be needed to replace a low-functioning thyroid gland or prevent the growth of tissue in cases of thyroid cancer. Synthetic thyroxine (T4) to replace the hormone that is missing. From there, thyroid function and use of the hormone replacement medication is periodically monitored by a physician.