When the thyroid gland is humming along, everything else in the body will function well. The thyroid gland, shaped like a butterfly, is located behind the larynx in the throat. The pituitary gland, located in the brain, sends important messages to the thyroid gland to activate hormones that help to stabilize the energy level of the body systems.
The following article is an overview of this disorder, its symptoms and some suggestive opinions concerning origin of thyroiditis. This information should not take the place of medical advice. It also does not represent a diagnosis by any professional practitioner.
There are two forms of thyroid disease: genetic and autoimmune. The autoimmune thyroid imbalance comes in two forms: hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism. Hypothyroidism (Hashimoto's Thyroiditis) is the name given to a slow or inactive thyroid gland. Hyperthyroidism (Graves' disease) is just the opposite. The gland is hyperactive and spits out the hormones consistently.
Some professionals---both physicians and researchers---believe that the autoimmune form develops from the absence or abundance of iodine. Both conditions are triggered by stress. These thyroidisms have shown links to post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) when doctors discovered that stress alters hormone levels in the system.
Symptoms of a thyroid imbalance are quite subtle and often overlooked and could even go untreated. The prescription for weight gain with inability to lose weight is usually a trip to the nutritionist for diet counseling (which will not help). Treatment for sleeping lengthy periods without reaching restorative sleep levels is usually a trip to the sleep lab (snoring, maybe...).
The sluggishness, fatigue and shortness of breath leads to a psychiatrist's couch for treatment of depression. None of these professionals draw blood to determine hormone levels. Endocrinology is the branch of medicine that would treat hypothyroid patients.
A blood lab analysis could reveal imbalance in the thyroid hormone counts, which affects the function of other systems in the body. Hypothyroidism responds to hormone replacement treatment, as will the other system imbalances.
These symptoms are not so subtle, yet they are usually unrecognized and undertreated. Weight loss, hair loss, changes in vision and a warranted case of anxiety are all draining on the "vanity gene." Insomnia and fatigue are incompatible symptoms. However, palpitations and rapid heartbeat means cardiac health is at risk from being on high-octane hormones.
Hyperthyroid is not common. The term refers to an excessive amount of thyroid hormones circulating through our many body systems. An eye doctor, dermatologist and sleep lab might become diagnostic tools once again. This patient might even visit with a cardiologist. It would be rare for any of these professionals to do a blood draw specifically for the thyroid. The endocrinologist would be the professional of choice for these patients, also.
Diet profoundly influences the function of the thyroid hormone. Oddly, the two countries that have the highest incidence of thyroid imbalance leading to disease are the United States and Japan.
Diets high in corn and brassica plants result in slow thyroid function. The gland is unable to release the required amount of hormones when needed. Brassica plants include cabbage, broccoli, spinach, certain nuts and Brussels sprouts. Alternately, diets high in seafood might play a role in developing a thyroid imbalance.
The Japanese diet is rich in seafood, which is high in iodine. The American diet is based in iodine salt, and iodine is used as a machine wash in the food industry.
If Graves' disease and Hashimoto's Thyroiditis are genetic, there must be a gene with the code for each one. Links must exist between the genome and the disease. Everything points to a relationship between these forms of thyroid imbalance, especially if other family members have the disorder or the symptoms.
Graves' disease has antibodies that piggyback onto the T4 enzyme. Antibodies keep the enzyme active. Current treatment is aimed at suppressing or removing the thyroid to correct the situation.
The opposite occurs with Hashimoto's Thyroiditis. This process remains the same with a different result. In this case, the enzyme blocks the function of this gland and eventually leads to thyroid destruction. Thyroid hormone replacement is the current treatment for Hashimoto's Thyroiditis.
Both researchers and medical professionals continue the genetic search hoping that someday they will be able to identify and correct thyroid imbalance at its source. No one is willing to settle for treatment if a correction is available.
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