Wednesday, November 18, 2009
The thyroid gland produces several hormones that control virtually all of the body’s metabolic functions including growth, body temperature, and the rate at which your body uses up fats and carbohydrates. An imbalance in the production of thyroid hormones can lead to seemingly inexplicable weight gain or loss, mood swings, exhaustion, dry skin, hair loss, and many more symptoms depending on the type of imbalance.
Hyperthyroidism is the condition that occurs with an over-active thyroid. When the thyroid gland becomes overworked, weight loss, rapid heartbeat, sweating and irritability result. On the other hand, hypothyroidism (an under-active thyroid) occurs when the thyroid produces insufficient amounts of hormone. It is much more common for women to experience hypothyroidism than hyper. In fact, some estimate that as many as 1 in 7 adults suffer from hypothyroidism. Many women have the symptoms of low thyroid hormones but are told that their lab tests are “normal” and that there is not a problem. However, the Society of Endocrinologists stated in 2002 that the lab ranges were actually incorrect and hypothyroidism was being under diagnosed. Symptoms of hypothyroidism include fatigue, weight gain, constipation, hair loss, cold intolerance, and dry skin. According to an article on UticaOD.com “some patients experience atypical symptoms, such as hypothyroidism patients who lose weight rather than gain it.”
As for treating thyroid conditions, “lifestyle changes such as diet and exercise don’t generally impact the thyroid, and the causes behind thyroid conditions are largely unknown, says Prus [Dr. Dina Prus, an endocrinologist at Clara Maass Medical Center in Belleville, N.J.]. An endocrinologist can prescribe medications that either block the thyroid’s ability to produce hormones or replace missing hormones.” Imbalances in thyroid hormones are often experienced during peri-menopause, menopause, and andropause (men’s menopause). It is important to speak to a physician on the proper treatment for you.