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Thyroid Imbalance: What Are the Symptoms of Hypothyroidism?

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Do you know what the symptoms are for a hormonal imbalance? Are you feeling run down, thinning hair, constantly feeling cold, have a tendency to gain weight even though you aren’t eating more? You just might have a thyroid imbalance – specifically hypothyroidism.

I wanted to talk about the thyroid as it is a common under-diagnosed and under-treated condition. Currently there are over 27 million Americans known to have thyroid disease and many more who are not being treated for it. In this health article, I will talk about hypothyroidism and give a brief overview of the endocrine system, the symptoms, and some things to talk to your doctor about.

The Endocrine System

The endocrine system is comprised of the pineal, pituitary, hypothalamus, thyroid, parathyroid, adrenals, pancreas, gonads or sex glands, and other glandular tissue located in the intestines, kidneys, lungs, heart, and blood vessels. Controlled by the higher centers of the brain and the nervous system, these glands secrete hormones directly into the bloodstream in an attempt to maintain balance and harmony throughout the body. [1]

Hormones play a key role as they guide and regulate most of the body’s subtle biochemistry, normalize substances that maintain homeostasis, integrate bodily functions, and determine your size, stature, fat and hair distribution, the sound of your voice, your emotions, and the occurrence of head pain. Hundreds of hormones have been identified with new ones still being discovered. [1]

The thyroid is part of the endocrine system and it acts as the body’s thermostat. It is located just below the larynx in the throat. It determines the rate at which our body uses energy and like the adrenals, helps run and regulate nearly every organ and system in the body. This includes cell reproduction and growth, tissue repair, circulation, heart rate, nerve tissue sensitivity, hair, skin, and nail growth, sex hormones regulation, and both cholesterol and sugar metabolism in the liver. [1] Tri-iodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine (T4) are the main hormones synthesized and released by the thyroid.

Thyroid Imbalance

How do you know if you have hypothyroidism or sub-clinical hypothyroidism? I would have your doctor test run a blood panel and check your T3, T4 and TSH numbers. The normal range for the thyroid test has been 0.5 to 5.5 mIU/L. Sub-clinical hypothyroidism is defined as a normal range of a TSH > 4.0 mIU/L and a normal free T4 level. In 2002, the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists (AACE) changed the normal range for TSH to 0.3 to 3.0 mIU/L to identify thyroid hypofunction.

There are problems with only using the TSH to screen for hypothyroidism. There are many who have sub- clinical hypothyroidism. This is where your numbers may be in the “normal” range but you are having symptoms of an inefficient thyroid. Some of the symptoms include: sluggish metabolism, thinning hair, infertility, low body temperature, abdominal pain, and gastrointestinal problems. Contact your doctor if you feel you might have this undiagnosed condition. I know after the birth of my daughter it took an endocrinologist to finally diagnose my thyroid deficiency because I was in the “normal” range, and my previous doctors didn’t catch it. Remember to take care of you too!

What are ways that you maintain your health? How do you make sure that your family remains healthy and happy?

[1] Burton Goldberg. Alternative Medicine – The Definitive Guide. Revised 2nd edition.

Photo courtesy of wikispaces.com.

Melissa Northway is a mom, writer, and just completed her Masters in Human Nutrition from the University of Bridgeport. If you would like to read more about hypothyroidism, contact me at: [email protected] for my research report. And check out my website: www.melissanorthway.com for more updates on my children’s storybook app “Penelope the Purple Pirate!”

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Jen Tilley

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