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Your thyroid is part of the endocrine system, a collection of glands that produce hormones to regulate metabolism, growth, sexual response, sleep schedule, mood, and more. The thyroid gland is located in the neck, and it produces three distinct types of hormones that are absolutely critical for your well-being:
- Triiodothyronine (T3) –This hormone plays a major role in everything from bone growth to producing neurotransmitters in the central nervous system. Without it, nearly all of our major organs would fail. One of its most crucial purposes is to help regulate the body’s metabolism, which in turn controls how well your body uses energy and oxygen.
- Tetraiodothyronine (thyroxine, or T4) – This is the most common type of thyroid hormone. While it controls largely the same bodily functions as T3, it is only a third as active. However, this hormone can combine with an enzyme to form T3 so that your body’s processes can be taken care of.
- Calcitonin– This hormone helps the body regulate calcium levels by lowering the amount of calcium in the bloodstream when it becomes too high. By doing so, this hormone protects certain organs such as the kidneys and intestines.
Your physician can run tests to determine your levels of Free T3. T4 levels are not a sufficient indicator of hypothyroidism since this hormone is not usable by the body. Optimal T4 levels are no good if your body is unable to synthesize Free T3. When this occurs, thyroid hormone treatment may be an option.
Common Thyroid Diseases and Disorders
If your thyroid has trouble producing any of its three hormones, the following disorders can develop:
- Hyperthyroidism – Any condition where a thyroid hormone is overproduced.
- Graves’ disease – Far more prevalent in women, this form of hyperthyroidism is when the immune system stimulates the thyroid to overproduce metabolic hormones. Its symptoms include weight loss, increased bowel function, increased heart rate, irritability, and problems sleeping.
- Toxic adenomas – A lump develops on the thyroid gland that causes the gland to swell and release an abnormal amount of hormones. Since any, or even all three, of these hormones can be overproduced, the symptoms vary.
- Subacute thyroiditis – Thought to be caused by a virus, this rare condition is where the thyroid gland swells up and releases more hormones than normal. As with toxic adenomas, any three of the hormones can be affected, so the symptoms can vary.
- Hypothyroidism – Any condition where a thyroid hormone is underproduced.
- Hashimoto’s thyroiditis – An autoimmune disorder in which the immune system attacks the thyroid until the dead tissue can no longer produce hormones. Its symptoms can include weight gain, excessive fatigue, looking pale, joint pain, muscle pain, constipation, excessive coldness, depression, and slowed heartbeat.
- Iodine overexposure – Certain medications or medical contrasts for X-rays have been known to sometimes interfere with the thyroid’s ability to produce hormones.
- If the thyroid has been surgically removed, symptoms of hypothyroidism can develop.
Diagnosing a Thyroid Disorder
Most thyroid disorders can be identified with a simple blood test. Your doctor may test the levels of the three different types of thyroid hormones, or a hormone that controls the thyroid made by the pituitary gland, or for autoimmune antibodies. In addition, medical scans can reveal any abnormalities within or around the gland itself to determine whether a thyroid hormone treatment in Connecticut may be right for you.
While lethargy and fatigue are common symptoms of low thyroid production, overall energy levels are not the only indicator of this problem. Since thyroid hormones control energy production at the cellular level, a feeling of tiredness is not the only symptom you may experience. Other than fatigue, some indicators of a thyroid imbalance include:
- Dry skin
- Hair loss
- Brittle nails
- Stiff, painful joints
- Inability to concentrate
- Digestive problems, particularly slow bowels or constipation
These and other symptoms may not, at first glance, seem to be related to low energy. However, when cells such as hair follicles or skin cells aren’t able to extract sufficient energy from the foods you eat, they don’t function properly. The result can be poor cell function, causing issues such as those described above.
Contact Our Office Today
Are you suffering from menopause symptoms? Do you believe your thyroid is underactive? Find out how Connecticut thyroid hormone therapy can benefit you by contacting Dr. Jacobson, a noted gynecologist who has been a leader in the field of bioidentical hormones for 30 years. Dr. Jacobson has offices in Greenwich, CT, and services the surrounding communities