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Thyroid dysfunction and symptoms

The thyroid is a vital gland that sits at the base of your neck on either side of your trachea. It is responsible for producing thyroid hormones, which controls your metabolism; including how fast you burn calories and how fast your heart beats.

If your thyroid produces too much hormone or not enough, you may often feel restless or feel tired; you may lose weight or gain weight.

Disorders can arise when your thyroid produces too much hormone (hyperthyroidism) or not enough (hypothyroidism). Women are more likely than men to have thyroid disorders, especially after pregnancy and during menopause.

Below are some typical symptoms of hyperthyroidism (overfunctioning thyroid) and hypothyroidism (underfunctioning thyroid). If you suffer from three or more of these symptoms, it is worth investigating further with a health professional.

Thyroid disease

Symptoms of hyperthyroidism

... when the thyroid gland is overactive, producing too much of its hormone.

  • Insomnia

  • Fatigue

  • Frequent bowel movements / diarrhoea

  • Heart palpitations

  • Heat intolerance

  • Increased sweating

  • Irritability

  • Light menstrual periods / missed periods

  • Nervousness

  • Shortness of breath

  • Sudden paralysis

  • Tremors / shakiness

  • Vision changes

  • Weight loss / weight gain

  • Dizziness

  • Thinning of hair

  • Itching and hives

  • Increase in blood sugar

Symptoms of hypothyroidism

... when the thyroid gland is under active, unable to produce enough of its hormone.

  • Weight gain around the middle

  • Tired all the time

  • Feeling foggy

  • Not sleeping well

  • Poor memory

  • Dry skin

  • Low mood

  • Low libido

  • Constipation

  • Aching muscles and joint pains

  • Muscle cramps

  • Trouble failing pregnant

  • Irregular periods

  • Craving sugar

  • Cold hands and feet

  • Hair loss or thinning hair

  • Poor concentration

Testing for Thyroid Dysfunction

A simple blood test can confirm whether your thyroid is functioning well, optimally, or not at all. It is important to check more than just the TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone), typically the only marker GP's test in the first instance. Unfortunately, Hashimoto's disease and Graves disease, both thyroid autoimmune conditions, go undiagnosed simply because a full thyroid blood test panel has not been done.

Other common disorders include Thyroid nodules and Goitre. Thyroid nodules, confirmed via ultrasound, CT or MRI, are small growths on the thyroid gland that can indicate dysfunction. Goitre is a visible swelling of the thyroid gland presenting in people who are hyperthyroid, hypothyroid or deficient in iodine.

In 2012, I was diagnosed with Hashimoto's disease. Through natural medicine and supplements, I successfully reduced my thyroid antibodies and increased my thyroid function. To help maintain my improved thyroid function and the new found vitality that came with it , it was crucial to follow a gluten free diet. Naturopaths and nutritionists can help with dietary and supplement choices to improve your thyroid function.

Angela Westerman Naturopath | | 0414 674 324


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