The thyroid, a small yet indispensable aspect of the body's hormonal system is a small butterfly shaped gland, normally weighs less than one ounce and is located in the front of the neck.
Thyroid hormone is produced in the thyroid by the addition of iodine to an amino acid called tyrosine. The thyroid gland produces primarily thyroxine (T4), which is then converted in the body to tri-iodothyronine (T3), which is really the active aspect of thyroid in the body.
It is very common for a person to have multiple, seemingly unrelated health complaints that begin to resolve only once a thyroid condition is diagnosed.
When the thyroid is overactive (hyperthyroidism) and producing too much thyroid hormone, or if the person is taking in too much thyroid, the body's metabolism speeds up.
The heart rate may speed up; the person may experience body aches, anxiety, hair loss, weight loss, bowel problems, difficulties with concentration, and multiple other problems. There are various therapies for this, all aimed at reducing the level and effect of thyroid hormone in the body.
More commonly than hyperthyroidism, in the event that the thyroid is under active, is hypothyroidism. With hypothyroidism a person will often experience fatigue, intolerance to cold, constipation, hair loss, weight gain and puffiness. They may come to their doctor complaining they just feel lousy; women may complain that their menstrual cycle is disrupted or that they are having problems getting pregnant. Men and women may complain of low libido or weakness. Other symptoms include muscle weakness or pain. It never ceases to amaze me how various vague symptoms are ultimately found to be due to thyroid problems.
Treating low thyroid states is a somewhat controversial topic. The most common and accepted form of therapy is known as Synthroid, which is a synthetic form of T4 not exactly identical to human T4.
However, many people find their symptoms resolve only when they are treated with a combination of T3 and T4, most commonly known as Armour thyroid, though there are other types.
There are also nutritional strategies useful in treating hypothyroid patients. Patients may experience symptoms of hypothyroidism when they are low in either iron, selenium, zinc, or iodine. Making sure levels of each of these are normal can help restore normal thyroid function.
Aggressively looking for and treating thyroid problems can make an enormous difference in a person's sense of well-being.