What you need to know about your thyroid

The majority of people have heard of the thyroid gland, but the extent of their knowledge about it might be limited.

The thyroid gland performs a number of specific and highly important functions in the body – did you know it regulates most of our metabolic processes, including our growth? The gland can be found at the front of the throat below the larynx, which is more commonly known as the Adam's apple. It comprises two lobes that sit each side of the windpipe, or trachea.

The endocrine system

Among other glands, the thyroid forms part of the endocrine system. This works alongside the nervous system and immune system to help the body cope with different situations. Each endocrine gland is responsible for creating hormones, before passing them into the bloodstream.

The hormones are capable of bringing about changes in cells, showing just how important the thyroid gland is to the regulation of our bodies.

Not only this, the endocrine system works to control homeostasis in the body by interacting with a variety of organs and organ systems. Homeostasis refers to our ability to control our internal temperature, blood pressure, respiration and pH balance – among other things.

It is therefore very important the thyroid is able to function properly; otherwise people run the risk of suffering a wide range of problems.

Common thyroid conditions

There are various issues that can arise in the thyroid gland – some of which are more harmful than others.

The two most common conditions are underactive and overactive thyroid, both of which present their own set of symptoms and courses of treatment.

Although neither condition can be prevented, there are natural ways to enhance its function.

Underactive thyroid

Otherwise known as hypothyroidism, an underactive thyroid occurs when the gland does not produce sufficient hormones.

Symptoms often include lethargy, weight gain and a feeling of depression. It is also possible that sufferers feel more sensitive to the cold and experience dry skin and hair.

Although not usually considered to be serious, an underactive thyroid can lead to a reduced quality of life unless treated properly. The most common course of treatment is being prescribed daily hormone tablets, which are able to replace the hormones the thyroid is unable to produce.

Overactive thyroid

Another common problem is an overactive thyroid – also known as hyperthyroidism. This occurs when there is too much thyroid hormone in the body.

Symptoms often include hyperactivity and nervousness, while sufferers may also find they experience muscle weakness and extreme sensitivity to heat. It is not uncommon for the thyroid gland to swell up, forming a noticeable lump in the throat.

Although this is a problem that cannot be prevented, there are treatments available to minimise its impact. Medication is available to help reduce symptoms – this interferes with the gland’s ability to use iodine and therefore helps to restore natural balance.

Another option is radioiodine therapy, which is taken as a drink. A single dose is needed to keep the overactive thyroid under control, although in some cases additional treatment will be necessary.

In some cases, sufferers will need to undergo surgery to have some or part of the thyroid gland removed.

Diagnosing thyroid problems

The best way to determine whether you are suffering from thyroid problems is to go to your GP or healthcare professional for a blood test. This will establish if thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) is in your bloodstream, as well as the other significant thyroid hormones thyroxine and triiodothyronine.

If you have an overactive thyroid then the test will show the levels of TSH are lower than normal.

In the case of an underactive thyroid they will be higher than expected.

 

Nature’s Sunshine Thyroid Support blends nutritional and herbal supplements to help nourish the function of the thyroid and enhance the performance of the hormones it produces. This may also help combat signs of stress and fatigue often experienced by people with a thyroid condition. Buy it now from our secure online shop.

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