Everything You Ever Need to Know About Your Thyroid (and then Some!)
What is Thyroid?
The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland located in the front of your neck. Its job is to produce T3 and T4 hormones, which are critical for the regulation of everything from breathing, heart rate, and menstrual cycles, to blood pressure, metabolism, and body temperature. If your body is a car, the thyroid is the engine that gets it up and running every day.
What is Hyperthyroidism?
Hyperthyroidism is a condition where a person’s thyroid is overactive, and releases too much T3 and T4 hormones. Symptoms may include anxiety, irritability, unintentional weight loss, and sensitivity to high temperatures. Approximately 1 in 100 people suffer from hyperthyroidism.
What is Hypothyroidism?
Hypothyroidism, also known as underactive thyroid, is when a person does not produce enough thyroid hormones. In this case, all cell processes slow down. Symptoms of hypothyroidism include exhaustion, weight gain–even in people who work out and eat well, muscle weakness and joint pain, anxiety and/or depression, dry skin, brittle hair or hair loss, trouble concentrating, memory loss, and more. Some patients even develop a goiter, or an enlarged thyroid. About 1 in 3 women will have an underactive thyroid by the time she is 50.
How Do You Test for Thyroid Issues?
A TSH (Thyroid Stimulating Hormone) test is what doctors typically use to measure hormone levels. Because all bodies are different, the TSH screen may not tell the whole story. T4 level, free T3 level, and reverse T3 level checks are also recommended to understand the total picture.