The second article is an important one. It is important for many reasons. Well, the first one is obvious, since it is one of the causes of being overweight, but the second is because I myself, have the disease. Hypothyroidism hits millions of Americans every year. Women can suffer from a mild temporary hypothyroidism, especially after their first child.
I’ve been dealing with this disease since my birth. Although it is under control, this disease has made me suffer many weight variations throughout my teenage years. From gaining 30 pounds, to losing them, I became the “Elastic Man”, some kind of national hero, I guess.
Lucky for me, I haven’t seen any stretch marks on my body from gaining and losing this weight. For those who can’t quite understand their weight increase, I recommend making an appointment with an endocrinologist (gland specialist) and having a blood test to check it.
How does the thyroid work? I am not a thyroid specialist, however, having that disease made me do a lot of research on it. Are you all ready? It’ll be technical.
Thyroid hormones enhance oxygen consumption of most body tissues and increase the basal metabolic rate and metabolism of carbohydrates, fats and proteins. Thus, they exert a profound influence on every organ system and are of great importance in the development of the central nervous system. 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 goiter that needs no treatment to life-threatening cancer. The most common thyroid problems involve abnormal production of thyroid hormones. Too much of these vital body chemicals 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.
What Causes Them?
All types of hyperthyroidism are due to an overproduction of thyroid hormones, but the condition can occur in several ways: In Graves’ disease, the release of excess hormones is triggered by an autoimmune disorder. For reasons that yet remain unknown, the body attacks the thyroid and causes it to spill out too much hormone. At other times, nodules called toxic adenomas develop in the thyroid gland and begin to secrete thyroid hormones, upsetting the body’s chemical balance; some goiters may contain several of these nodules. Although rare, hyperthyroidism can also develop from pituitary gland malfunctions or from cancerous growths in the thyroid gland.
Hypothyroidism, by contrast, stems from an underproduction of thyroid hormones. Since your body’s energy production requires certain amounts of thyroid hormones, a drop in hormone production leads to lower energy levels. Hypothyroidism can also result when the thyroid gland has been surgically removed or chemically destroyed a treatment for hyperthyroidism. And if you are exposed to excessive amounts of iodide – perhaps from a hidden source such as cold and sinus medicines or from certain medical tests – you may be at greater risk for developing hypothyroidism, especially if you had thyroid problems in the past. If left untreated for long periods, hypothyroidism can bring on a myxedema coma, a rare but potentially fatal condition that requires immediate hormone injections.
Hypothyroidism poses a special danger to newborns and infants. A lack of thyroid hormones in the system at an early age can lead to the development of cretinism (mental retardation) and dwarfism (stunted growth). Most infants now have their thyroid levels checked routinely soon after birth. If they are hypothyroid, treatment begins immediately.
In infants, as in adults, hypothyroidism can be due to a pituitary disorder, a defective thyroid, or lack of the gland entirely. Usually, a hypothyroid infant is inactive and quiet, has a poor appetite and sleeps for excessively long periods.
How can you determine if you suffer from either one of these diseases? Well, just like in the case of other medical problems, you will inevitably recognize some symptoms and your body will not be in full harmony. What are the symptoms then?
o Weight loss despite increased appetite (I guess 40% of our population would love to suffer from hyperthyroidism). Increased heart rate, higher blood pressure, nervousness, and excessive perspiration.
o Muscle weakness, trembling hands.
o Development of a goiter (presenting as a swelling on the neck).
o Increased weight gains, lack of energy, need to sleep more than usual.
o Lethargy, slower mental processes.
o Reduced heart rate.
o Increased sensitivity to cold.
o Tingling or numbness in the hands.
o Mild to severe pain in the thyroid gland.
o Thyroid feels tender to the touch.
o Pain when swallowing or turning your head
What is the next step after noticing these symptoms? GO SEE A DOCTOR. Many of us would rather watch a football game rather than sit down at the doctor’s office. But let’s face it, it’s your health. Your endocrinologist can diagnose hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism by testing the levels of thyroid hormones in your blood. He or she will measure hormone secreted by the thyroid itself and of the thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH), a chemical released by the pituitary gland that triggers hormone production in the thyroid. When you are hypothyroid, higher quantities of TSH are circulating in your blood as your body attempts to foster increased production of thyroid hormones. The reverse is true with hyperthyroidism in which TSH levels are below normal and circulating thyroid-hormone levels are high. The normal level should vary between 0 and 4. Above that level, you might suffer from hypo-thyroidism- and below the normal level from hyperthyroidism.
Thyroid hormone production can be suppressed or halted completely with a radioactive iodide treatment, antithyroid medication, or surgery. If you doctor decides that radioactive treatment is best, you have to swallow a tablet or liquid containing radioactive iodide in amounts large enough to damage the cells of your thyroid gland and limit or destroy their ability to produce hormones. Occasionally more than one treatment is needed to restore normal hormone production, and many patients develop hypothyroidism because of this procedure.
Moreover, yes, you will be radioactive. You will probably be put in “quarantine” for several days and not get close to any family member. You wouldn’t want to be another “Chernobyl”, would you? Unless, of course, you dislike your wife or husband and in this case you can always keep it a secret and let her or him be irradiated as well. Let’s move on…
After the normal six hours wait at your doctor’s office, the doctor places an instrument over your neck to measure how much of the radioactive iodide has gathered in your thyroid. If the results of this test suggest that the gland is collecting excessive amounts of iodide, the doctor may then conduct a radioactive iodide uptake scan. In this test, the doctor uses a special film to create a picture that shows the exact location of the radioactive iodide in your thyroid gland. The scan will reveal, for example, if the iodide is collecting in adenomas, indicating that the nodules are responsible for the excess hormone. If the scan shows that the iodide is spread equally throughout the tissue, the whole thyroid is involved in the excess production.
Some doctors believe that blood tests may not be sensitive enough to detect milder forms of hypothyroidism. Instead, they advocate monitoring your body’s basal (resting) temperature. To track your basal temperature accurately, you must closely follow certain guidelines: Shake the thermometer below 95° F at night and place it where you can reach it without getting out of bed. The following morning, before you get out of bed, take your temperature under your armpit for 10 minutes while staying as still as possible. Keep records of your temperature for at least three days. (Women should do this during the first two weeks of the menstrual cycle, as their basal temperature may rise during the latter half.) The normal basal body temperature ranges between 97.4° F and 97.8° F.
If your basal temperature is consistently low, you could be mildly hypothyroid. If you have one or more adenomas, your doctor will want to keep careful records of when they were first found and how they develop, since not all adenomas produce excess thyroid hormone. In fact, most of these nodules are not malignant, especially if they remain the same size over long intervals. (Cancerous tissue, by contrast, will undergo noticeable growth.) Nodules that appear suddenly are typically fluid-filled cysts and are often benign. They can be evaluated with a non-invasive ultrasound exam. If blood tests indicate that, the nodules are producing excess thyroid hormone, and if you have other symptoms, your doctor will treat you for hyperthyroidism.
What are the available treatments out there for the disease?
For thyroid disorders stemming from the over- or underproduction of thyroid hormones, both conventional and alternative treatments offer varied methods to restore hormone levels to their proper balance. Conventional treatments rely mainly on drugs and surgery. Alternative treatments attempt to relieve some of the discomfort associated with thyroid problems, or improve the function of the thyroid gland through a variety of approaches ranging from diet supplements and herbal remedies to lifestyle changes and special exercises. You should always receive a professional evaluation for any thyroid disorder; most of these conditions require a course of treatment beyond the scope of home-care alone.
Treating hyperthyroidism requires suppressing the manufacture of thyroid hormone while hypothyroidism demands hormone replacement. Conventional medicine offers extremely effective techniques for lowering, eliminating, or supplementing hormone production. Before you decide which treatment is best for you, your doctor will make an evaluation based on your particular thyroid condition as well as your age, general health, and medical history.
Hypothyroidism calls for a lifelong regimen of thyroid replacement. No surgical techniques or conventional drugs can increase the thyroid’s hormone production once it slows. Although hormones from animal extracts are available, doctors generally prescribe synthetic forms of thyroid hormone, such as synthroid. Side effects are rare, but some people experience nervousness or chest pain while taking these drugs. Usually adjusting the levels of medication will alleviate any unpleasant effects. If you have diabetes, make sure that you and your doctor discuss any possible interactions or other complications.