The thyroid gland is located in your neck and produces hormones that help the cells in your body function normally – which makes it rather important. However, thyroid disorders are relatively common and can affect anyone. However, studies tend to show that they affect women more frequently. These disorders are usually because of autoimmune thyroid disease, which results in the immune system attacking thyroid cells, instead mistaking them for foreign cells. You might have a thyroid disorder and not even know it, so here is some advice on how to look out for symptoms and get the proper treatment.
Your thyroid produces hormones, known as T3 and T4, that get released into your body. They affect the speed at which your cells work in the body, keeping the pace normalised. However, if too many of these hormones are being released by your thyroid, the cell activity in your body will increase – this is known as hyperthyroidism and it is the most common thyroid disorder.
As hyperthyroidism increases the speed in which your cells work, this will have a knock-on effect on the functions of your body. Symptoms of the disorder can include an increase in your heart rate, as well as bowel movements occurring a little more than usual, and perhaps even diarrhoea in some cases.
Another form of thyroid disorder is hypothyroidism, which is the opposite of hyperthyroidism. This occurs when there is not enough of the T3 and T4 hormones being released into the body, slowing cells down.
As you might expect, the symptoms are the opposite of hyperthyroidism, resulting in possible constipation and infrequent bowel movements. You could also have a lower heart rate and you are likely to feel more lethargic.
Testing Your Thyroid
If any of the above seems familiar to you and you’re concerned you might have a thyroid disorder, it’s easy to find out. Make an appointment with your local GP and inform them of your symptoms; they will then organise a test for you. Alternatively, you can do this at home with a thyroid blood test, which might be more convenient for you.
Thyroid disorders are easy to treat and are controlled with daily medication. As a thyroid disorder is caused by the irregularity of those hormones being released, the most common medication is a daily dose of levothyroxine. This helps to balance the hormone levels, but it can take a little while to get the dosage right, so you are likely to keep having tests until the correct balance has been reached. Once the right dosage has been determined, you will have yearly check-ups to ensure everything is still working for you. There might be alternative treatments for other specific thyroid disorders or problems, but this is the most common. Your GP will be give you a good overview of your treatment options.
Everyone should look after their overall health, but if you notice any of the symptoms mentioned above, it might be worth checking up on your thyroid – it’s easy to do.