Surprising Ways Your Thyroid Affects Your Health

Surprising Ways Your Thyroid Affects Your Health
Next Health Staff
March 11, 2024

Understanding the vital role of the thyroid gland is key to grasping its impact on overall health. From weight fluctuations to energy levels and mood swings, the thyroid plays a crucial role often overlooked. In this blog, discover how the thyroid affects numerous bodily functions and how imbalances manifest as hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism. Learn about the signs and symptoms indicating thyroid irregularities and why proactive testing is crucial. Dive into our exploration of thyroid health and take charge of your well-being:

How the Thyroid Affects Your Health

Did you know your thyroid affects:

  • Weight loss or gain
  • Hair growth
  • Energy levels
  • Mood (anxiety, depression)
  • Ability to think clearly
  • Digestive function
  • Body temperature regulation
  • Heart rate and cardiovascular health
  • Menstrual cycle and fertility in women
  • Muscle strength and stamina
  • Skin health and hydration levels
  • Bone density and overall skeletal health
  • Cholesterol levels and lipid metabolism
  • Immune system function and response
  • Sleep patterns and quality of sleep

What is the Thyroid?

Nicknamed the body’s “gas pedal,” the thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland (located in the middle of the throat) that rarely receives the recognition it deserves.

The thyroid is so integral to overall health because it produces hormones that, in short, affect how your cells utilize energy and the speed at which processes are carried out.

The hormones produced by the thyroid gland play a pivotal role in regulating the body's metabolism—the process by which the body converts food into energy. These hormones, namely thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3), act as messengers, influencing nearly every cell and organ in the body.

By controlling metabolism, the thyroid hormones manage critical bodily functions, such as heart rate, digestion, temperature regulation, and the body's use of nutrients. They also influence how quickly or slowly chemical reactions occur within cells, essentially acting as the body's "gas pedal," determining the pace at which these processes unfold.

When the thyroid functions optimally, it maintains a delicate balance, ensuring the body has the right amount of hormones to support various bodily functions. However, when the thyroid becomes overactive (hyperthyroidism) or underactive (hypothyroidism), this equilibrium is disrupted, leading to a range of health issues affecting metabolism, energy levels, and overall well-being.

Signs of Hypothyroidism

Here are some common signs and symptoms associated with hypothyroidism:

  1. Fatigue and weakness: Feeling unusually tired, lethargic, or experiencing weakness, even after adequate rest.
  2. Weight gain: Unexplained weight gain or difficulty losing weight despite maintaining a healthy diet and exercise routine.
  3. Cold intolerance: Feeling unusually sensitive to cold temperatures, experiencing cold hands and feet, or feeling chilly even in warm environments.
  4. Dry skin and hair: Dry, itchy skin and brittle hair that may become coarse and prone to breakage.
  5. Muscle aches and stiffness: Experiencing muscle pain, stiffness, or cramps, often accompanied by joint pain.
  6. Constipation: Persistent constipation or irregular bowel movements.
  7. Elevated cholesterol levels: Increased levels of cholesterol, which can lead to high blood cholesterol and related cardiovascular issues.
  8. Depression or mood changes: Feeling depressed, experiencing mood swings, anxiety, or irritability.
  9. Memory problems and cognitive difficulties: Difficulty concentrating, poor memory, and slower mental processing.
  10. Menstrual irregularities: Irregular menstrual cycles, heavier periods, or changes in menstrual flow.

Signs of Hyperthyroidism

Here are some common signs and symptoms associated with hyperthyroidism:

  1. Unintentional weight loss: Rapid and unexplained weight loss, even with increased appetite or unchanged eating habits.
  2. Increased heart rate: Having a fast or irregular heartbeat (palpitations), or experiencing heart palpitations even at rest.
  3. Anxiety and irritability: Feeling nervous, anxious, or irritable without an apparent cause.
  4. Heat intolerance: Feeling excessively warm or sweating more than usual, especially in normal or cool environments.
  5. Tremors and shakiness: Experiencing trembling of the hands or fingers, or an overall sense of trembling or shakiness.
  6. Fatigue and weakness: Paradoxically, despite increased metabolic rate, some individuals may still experience fatigue or muscle weakness.
  7. Changes in menstrual patterns: Irregular menstrual cycles or changes in menstrual flow in women.
  8. Increased bowel movements: More frequent bowel movements or diarrhea.
  9. Difficulty sleeping: Insomnia or difficulty falling asleep, even when feeling fatigued.
  10. Bulging eyes (Exophthalmos): Eye changes, including bulging or protruding eyes, or eye irritation and discomfort, often seen in Graves' disease, a common cause of hyperthyroidism.

How to Test Your Thyroid Health

It is estimated that approximately 750 million people globally suffer from thyroid dysfunction, with up to 60% being undiagnosed.

The Next Health Thyroid Lab Test measures thyroid-related biomarkers to diagnose Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, hypothyroidism (underactive), hyperthyroidism (overactive), iodine deficiency, and other signs of thyroid dysfunction. This test can also shed light on if you are suffering or at risk of thyroid eye disease, thyroid cancer, thyroid symptoms, enlarged thyroid, and more.

Thyroid markers measured:

  • TSH
  • T3
  • T4

Because thyroid dysfunction is often unaddressed by traditional medicine, it is critical to proactively check the status of your thyroid, especially for women as they are more likely to suffer from thyroid dysfunction than men. One in eight women will develop thyroid problems during their lifetime.

Proactively test your thyroid health today.

Get your thyroid test here

Questions? Call or text us at: (310) 295-2075

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