Located close to the windpipe in the throat, the thyroid gland is one of the teeniest, tiniest organs in the entire body but the role it plays within the endocrine system is absolutely vital to ensuring your metabolism functions correctly.
If you’re currently in the process of dieting to try and lose weight, you might find yourself feeling lethargic and prone to mood swings.
If this is the case, it could be that your thyroid isn’t running at optimal capacity – a condition known as hypothyroidism – resulting in the down regulation of hormones which are integral to metabolic health.
The two most commonly known thyroid hormones are triiodothyronine or T3, and the more easily-pronounceable thyroxine, or T4. Just as a deficiency in the production of these hormones causes many problems, an excess of T3 and T4 can be just as problematic, and this is a condition known as
A poorly functioning thyroid gland can wreak havoc on our quality of life, and in more severe cases, can actually result in potentially lethal complications.
Here are a few telltale signs that your thyroid health isn’t up to scratch:
- Chronic tiredness
- Loss of libido and sex drive
- Mood swings
- Stalled weight loss
- Seemingly inexplicable weight gain
- Loss of appetite
- Lowered heart rate
- Increased appetite
- Dry skin
The symptoms of hypothyroidism are great in number and, unfortunately, they can be highly contrasted against one another, as can be seen from the list above.
This makes self-diagnosis nearly impossible in most cases, but there are a few other signs you can use to determine if you may need to speak to your doctor.
Other Signs Of Thyroid Dysfunction
Some of following health ailments are considered far more severe than a simple lack of sex drive or an increased appetite, so if you experience any of the following, you must ensure you consult your doctor as soon as possible:
Easily recognizable as small bumps or lumps on the thyroid gland, nodules can often be located by feeling the affected area with your fingers. Most nodules are harmless but if you discover any, you should have your doctor perform a few tests just in case.
With a survival rate of more than 95 percent, thyroid cancer need not be as terrifying as it sounds. If you don’t have a medical background, you’re most likely not going to be able to tell the difference between a thyroid nodule and a malignant tumour, so always refer to your doctor if you find any suspicious lumps.
A relatively common manifestation of hyperthyroidism, Grave’s Disease can cause extreme discomfort in and around the eyes. This condition is largely prevalent in patients under 40 years of age so, not to labour the point, but your doctor should be your first port of call in such instances.
Far less life-threatening than some thyroid disorders, goiters can be present in cases of both under- and overactive thyroids, and is easily distinguishable from other similar diseases in that it causes direct swelling of the thyroid gland itself.
Goiters are usually caused by an iodine deficiency, which can easily be prevented by eating adequate amounts of shellfish or simply by using iodized table salt – which is far cheaper!
So as we can see, thyroid dysfunction can manifest in a variety of ways, some more easily-identifiable than others.
As with all areas of your health and fitness, you should always remain vigilant and book an appointment with your GP if you notice anything unusual.
Keeping Your Thyroid Healthy
The first and most obvious way of improving your thyroid health is to simply consume more iodine, and as mentioned above, this can easily be achieved by adding iodized table salt to your meals.
You will of course want to remain somewhat mindful of your sodium intake if you have a history of high blood pressure, but this can be a pretty reliable way of preventing some of the issues we’ve discussed in this article.
Due to the ambiguous nature of hypo- and hyperthyroidism, it would be irresponsible to prescribe specific recommendations. The two conditions must be treated very differently, and what you may think is an underactive thyroid might be the complete opposite. So treating hypothyroidism with
hyperthyroidism countermeasures could be catastrophic for your health – and even deadly.
Now that you have an idea of what an unhealthy thyroid gland looks like, the very best advice would be to simply repeat what has already been said – if you notice a combination of the above symptoms, or you notice strange lumps or swelling on or around your thyroid gland, arrange an appointment with your local Doctor immediately.
You should never take chances where you health is concerned so if you’re in doubt, pick up the phone right now and make that appointment!