Thyroid Awareness Month

In light of Thyroid Awareness month, we wanted to focus on the many aspects of this unique gland that can impact us on so many levels.

Dr. Lindsey Hanson first will speak to what the thyroid is, its disorders, and what thyroid testing looks like:

The thyroid is a butterfly shaped gland that wraps around the trachea on the front of the neck. The main function of the thyroid gland is to regulate the body’s metabolic rate, which controls how you use and store energy. The thyroid hormones act on the heart, muscles, digestive system, as well as brain development and the maintenance of bones

There are several hormones involved in thyroid functioning and metabolic rate:

  • Thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH), which is produced by the pituitary. Depending on your body’s needs, TSH levels rise and fall telling your thyroid gland how much of the thyroid hormones need to be produced. 
  • Thyrotropin-releasing hormone (TRH) is released from the hypothalamus. The pituitary will respond to thyroid hormones in the blood as well as TRH from the pituitary, 
  • The two main thyroid hormones produced but the thyroid gland that regulate metabolism are thyroxine (T4)  and triiodothyronine (T3). T4 is a relatively inactive pro-hormone that travel through the body and is rapidly converted as needed into T3, which is highly active. 
  • Calcitonin I released by the C-cells in the thyroid and helps regulate calcium and phosphate levels in the blood, which is important for bone health and maintenance.

Thyroid Disorders

Most of the disorders related to the thyroid have to do with the production of thyroid hormones. 

Common symptoms of overproduction of thyroid hormones (hyperthyroidism) are weight loss, rapid heart rate, irritability, nervousness, insomnia, heat sensitivity, muscle tremors or weakness, less regular menstrual cycles, and eye concerns (dry, watery, red, double vision, or bulging of eyes)

Common symptoms of underproduction of thyroid hormones (hypothyroidism) are weight gain, slower heart rate, forgetfulness, more frequent  or heavy menstrual cycles, fatigue, feeling cold of being sensitive to the cold, dry skin and hair, hoarse voice. 

In both cases an enlargement of the thyroid gland (goitre) can be present. 

Poor thyroid functioning can have an impact and contribute to other health concerns like diabetes, fertility issues, arthritis, weight issues, and heart disease. 

It is estimated that 1 in 10 Canadians suffer from thyroid disorders. 

Thyroid disorders are more common in women. One in eight women will be affected by thyroid disorder during their lifetime. 

Thyroid disorders can be related to genetics and heredity and can affect many members in a family, but it may show up in different forms.

Thyroid Testing

We can evaluate thyroid functioning by doing lab testing. Some common labs we look at are TSH, Free T3, Free T4, and thyroid antibodies. Thyroid antibodies evaluate for autoimmune conditions like Graves’ disease and Hashimoto’s thyroiditis 

There are many way to support healthy functioning of the thyroid including vitamin and nutrient support, herbal remedies, diet, nutrition, and lifestyle factors.

Dr. Hillary will now speak to how your thyroid can impact fertility:

There are a bazillion reasons why women are unable to conceive and a bazillion more why miscarriages occur. And although we are unable to explore all these reasons, one of the reasons why I love naturopathic medicine is that it allows us to uncover issues that can go unnoticed at first glance.

One of these reasons can be thyroid issues. And in light of thyroid awareness month, I thought it would be good to shine some light on this area – labs to check out when wanting to conceive, and treatment.

Bloodwork assessment: 

Thyroid is your gland that runs your basal metabolic rate. It affects pregnancy in that ideal thyroid hormone levels are produced in order to maintain a pregnancy. Thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) is in your pituitary gland which comes down and stimulates thyroxine (T4) to be produced. Which then goes into your tissues and converts to T3. Thyroid antibodies – these are little mini (bad) soldiers that choose to attack the thyroid called thyroid peroxidase antibody (TPO). Again, when these are elevated they have been shown to effect pregnancy and can cause miscarriage.

So in short – I ALWAYS (thats a strong word, yet I’m certain in this situation I can use it) ask women to check their TSH, T4, T3, and TPO prior to conception and/or after miscarriage(s) and/or pre fertility treatments.

Talk to your ND if you have a family history of thyroid disease, have concerns about your thyroid, or experience the symptoms of thyroid disease. We are here to support you at Marda Loop Wellness, connect with us today.

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