10 Signs of a Thyroid Disorder
What Does Your Thyroid Do?
Your thyroid is a hard-working butterfly-shaped gland that sits at the bottom of your neck.
Your thyroid uses iodine from your food to produce two important hormones, T3 (triiodothyronine) and T4 (thyroxine), which regulate your metabolism. It’s important that you have just the right amount of these hormones. Two glands in your brain – your pituitary and hypothalamus – produce other hormones known as TRH and TSH to help maintain the right balance of T3 and T4.
Your thyroid is like a finely tuned engine that regulates many important bodily processes including your:
- Heart rate
- Blood pressure
- Muscle strength
- Menstrual cycle
- Central nervous system
- Peripheral nervous system.
Types of Thyroid Disease
As mentioned above, you need just the right amount of thyroid hormones. Thyroid disease happens when the balance tips and you make too much or too little T3 and T4.
An underactive thyroid that produces insufficient amounts of thyroid hormones and so slows down your metabolism, is known as hypothyroidism. This is the most common thyroid disorder in Australia and mainly affects women over 40.
An overactive thyroid that produces too much T3 and T4 and so speeds up your metabolism is known as hyperthyroidism.
10 Symptoms of a Thyroid Disorder
When your thyroid is working well, you’ll barely know it’s there. But if it starts working too fast or too slow, giving too much or too little of those important hormones, you’ll start experiencing a range of symptoms.
Symptoms of an underactive thyroid include:
- Feeling cold
- Weight gain
Symptoms of an overactive thyroid include:
- Rapid heartbeat
- Weight loss
- Anxiety, agitation or nervousness
- Trembling or shaking hands
- Heat intolerance.
How Do We Diagnose a Thyroid Problem?
If you have symptoms of an underactive or overactive thyroid then it’s important to come and see us. Thyroid disorders need to be diagnosed by a doctor.
Your Elm Rd. GP can examine you, checking your heart rate and feeling your gland, then order blood tests to check your levels of thyroid hormones.
How Do We Treat a Thyroid Disorder?
Once we receive your blood tests, we’re able to judge whether you have an overactive or underactive thyroid and how mild or severe your condition is, based on your hormone levels and symptoms.
If you have an underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism), then you’re not getting enough of the important thyroid hormones you need for a properly functioning metabolism. So, we top up your thyroxine levels using a daily tablet.
There are a few treatment choices for an overactive thyroid. If your heart rate is too fast, we may use tablets called beta blockers to slow it down, stop your hands trembling, and help to reduce agitation or hyperactivity.
Then we need to stop you making excessive amounts of thyroid hormones. We can do this by:
- Medication that interferes with the production of thyroid hormones
- Radioactive iodine tablets that gradually destroy your thyroid
- Surgery to remove part or all of your thyroid gland.
Both radioactive iodine and surgery effectively stop your body making thyroid hormones. That means that you now have hypothyroidism and will need to take a daily dose of thyroxine to ensure you have healthy levels of thyroid hormones in your system.
How We Can Help
If you’re concerned about your thyroid function, please come to see us. Your Elm Rd. GP will listen to you carefully, examine you thoroughly, and order any tests necessary to investigate your thyroid. If you do have a problem, we will prescribe the appropriate treatment and, if necessary, refer you to a specialist.