Tired, depressed, anxious, or always quick to anger—these are some of the signs of too little or too much thyroid hormones in the system.
Wenceslao Llauderes, an internal medicine doctor who specializes in endocrinology, explains to Radyo Klinika that the thyroid gland may produce too much or too little hormones, which can make our body go crazy.
“It is a butterfly-shaped gland located at the anterior neck, on the throat, which consists of the right and left lobes. The thyroid gland is a stress gland—this is where our body gets the energy to support our day-to-day activities. It regulates our temperature and our metabolism, and most specially, the heartbeat,” says Llauderes, president of the Philippine Thyroid Association.
“Iodine deficiency or too much iodine in the body can cause problems in our thyroid gland. Stress and toxins in the environment can play major parts, too. But sometimes, it is hereditary,” adds Llauderes.
“Thyroid problems sometimes manifest physically by having enlarged thyroid glands [goiter] or swelling of the eyes, like the eyes are being pushed from their sockets.” Llauderes said that two autoimmune diseases are the common causes of goiter. One is the Hashimoto’s thyroiditis which causes the destruction of the thyroid gland by the body’s own immune system. The other one is Graves’ disease, which can cause goiter and hyperthyroidism. Graves’ disease is more associated with nutrition or food intake.
When the thyroid is overactive and produces too much hormones, this is called hyperthyroidism. Among the signs of hyperthyroidism are the following: increased appetite but losing weight, jittery and anxiousness, palpitations because of too many thyroid hormones flooding the system, diarrhea or more frequent bowel movements, hypertension, menstrual periods are shortened or irregular and light, difficulty conceiving, and sweating profusely because the body feels warm.
Hypothyroidism means there is too little production of thyroid hormones in the body, and this can cause a lot of health problems like hypertension, enlarged heart and fertility problems. In fact, there is two to three times risk of developing hypertension when one has low amounts of thyroid hormone production. This can slow the heartbeat and can cause high levels of bad cholesterol in the blood. A person will experience nerve problems, such as numbness or tingling feeling, or pain in the hands, arms, legs and feet with hypothyroidism.
A person may encounter fertility problems and pregnancy complications with hypothyroidism. They may also have longer menstrual periods and more pain while having menstruation. They may also be disinterested in sex, as well as have difficulty in concentrating. The hair and the nails become brittle or fall off, and the skin gets dry. Constipation is also a regular problem for someone with hypothyroidism. Hoarseness and difficulty in swallowing and breathing can occur if there is goiter.
“Women are oftentimes the victims of thyroid problems. It is still unknown why more women have this problem, but it could be how they handle stress. Thyroid problems can be fatal if the complications arise, particularly the enlargement of the heart and uncontrolled blood pressure. Sometimes, nodular goiter can be a cause of cancer,” warns Llauderes.
“Iodine supplementation, for those who have hypothyroidism, is one of the solutions for this problem,” says the doctor. But it is important also to check other foods in our diet.
Soy, according to experts, can interfere with the proper functioning of the thyroid gland. Goitrogens, or thyroid antagonist, can also be found in other food in their raw form, such as Brussels sprouts, cabbage, turnips, broccoli, watercress and kale.
Gluten is also being studied as a major factor in the formation of nodules in the thyroid gland. Gluten is a protein, which can be found in barley, rye and wheat.
Early prevention and treatment can help those who have thyroid problems, says Llauderes. “See your doctor immediately and have your thyroid hormones tested. If you see any lump in your throat or you are experiencing the symptoms mentioned earlier, don’t hesitate to seek treatment.”
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