Why Paying Attention To Your Thyroid Matters

What leads to thyroid dysfunction?

Many people are not aware of the inner workings of the thyroid and its importance within the body. For starters, the thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland that lives in the lower part of the front of the neck. It lies below Adam’s apple and is very hard to find on their own body. The job of the thyroid is to make a molecule called thyroid hormone. This hormone contributes to the speed of the metabolism, digestion, and cardiovascular systems within the body.

Over time there can be problems with thyroid function or with structure. The thyroid can grow bump and lumps that can create issues. Fortunately, the vast majority of these will not lead to cancer or affect the thyroid. Thyroid dysfunction refers to either over-function or hyperthyroidism. There can either be too much of the thyroid hormone or not enough. Hypothyroidism is where there is not enough of the hormone and is considerably more common. At least 1 in 5 women will experience hypothyroidism and need to take medication. The typical described symptoms of hypothyroidism are feeling sluggish, intolerant to cold, overly tired, and mildly gaining weight. Your primary care provider can request blood tests to evaluate thyroid function.

So, what is hypothyroidism? 

Hypothyroidism is treated with a small daily pill. It is a synthetic version of the hormone thyroxine call levothyroxine. The brand name would be either Synthroid or Eltroxin. The hormones are supplements from what your thyroid may not be able to create on its own. Blood tests repeat 6-8 weeks to determine the best dose for each patient.

How do you treat hypothyroidism? 

At this time, no data supports that thyroid dysfunction can help with dietary changes. There is some data that if the patient has celiac disease, they can limit gluten within their diet. When looking at supplements to aid with thyroid, there are two supplements where there are concerns. Iodine is known to be a supplement that helps with the thyroid. However, varying amounts of iodine can lead to thyroid problems. The supplement biotin is only harmful when taking test results. Biotin can interfere with the thyroid lab tests and make it appear that there is dysfunction. Therefore, individuals who take biotin shouldn’t have it for three days before a blood test.

For those who have prescribed thyroid hormone, there are two main things to consider. To ensure absorption of the medication, you should take it on an empty stomach away from soy, calcium, iron, and fiber. However, the most vital aspect is to be consistent with the timing of your medication. The second factor to consider is your dosage if you become pregnant. It is necessary to speak to your care provider immediately as the dose requirements often change and need to be followed.
Lastly, don’t believe everything you read on social media related to hypothyroidism. Media outlets look to increase their engagement through their information provided online. If you have concerns, be in touch with your health care provider for personalized care.