Understanding Your Thyroid

What is the thyroid? The thyroid in a butterfly-shaped endocrine gland that is normally located in the lower front of the neck. The purpose of the thyroid is to produce thyroid hormones that are pushed into the blood and carried to every tissue in the body. The thyroid hormone assists the body to use energy, stay warm and maintain the brain, heart, muscles, and other others. Approximately 20 million Americans have some form of thyroid disease and more than 12% of the U.S. population will develop a thyroid condition sometime during their life.

Common Thyroid Diseases

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Thyroid issues come in several forms of different diseases that affect many adults. Thyroid diseases present a variety of different symptoms that cause those affected by thyroid problems to experiences sometimes harmful health complications. What causes thyroid problems in adults and children are still widely unknown. Understanding the thyroid diseases that could potentially impact your health will help you better comprehend the problems your thyroid is having and in turn assist you in determining the appropriate treatment. Below are some common diseases and issues that affect the adult thyroid:

Anaplastic Thyroid Cancer: One of the fastest growing and most aggressive cancers that is very rare and found in less than 2% of patients with thyroid cancer and mostly affect people over the age of 60.

Follicular Thyroid Cancer: makes up about 10% of all thyroid cancers and can spread to lymph nodes in the neck but is more likely than papillary cancer to spread to distant organs, particularly the lungs and bones.

Goiter: the abnormal enlargement of the thyroid gland

Graves’ Disease: an autoimmune disease that leads to a generalized overactivity of the entire thyroid gland

Graves’ Eye Disease: an autoimmune disease caused by antibodies directed against receptors present in the thyroid cells and also on the surface of the cells behind the eyes

Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis: an autoimmune disorder in which antibodies directed against the thyroid gland lead to chronic inflammation

Hyperthyroidism: any condition in which there is too much thyroid hormone produced in the body

Hypothyroidism: an underactive thyroid gland that can’t make enough thyroid hormone to keep the body running normally

Iodine Deficiency: the body being unable to make iodine resulting the lack of the thyroid hormone

Medullary Thyroid Cancer: Thyroid cancer that accounts for approximately 2% of all thyroid cancers. About 25% of medullary thyroid cancer is inherited.

Papillary Thyroid Cancer: The most common type of all thyroid cancers, can occur at any age, growing slowly and spreading to lymph nodes in the neck.

Postpartum Thyroiditis: thyroiditis that occurs in women after the delivery of a baby

Pregnancy and Thyroid Disease: changes to the thyroid gland that occur due to hormone changes during pregnancy

Primary Thyroid Lymphoma: lymphoma that occurs within the lymph nodes arising from lymphocytes that are present within the thyroid gland

Thyroid Cancer: a malignant tumor of the thyroid gland

Thyroid Nodules: an abnormal growth of thyroid cells that forms a lump within the thyroid gland

Thyroiditis: the inflammation of the thyroid gland

Symptoms of Thyroid Problems

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Thyroid issues can develop when you least expect it. If you begin to notice changes in your health and you suspect that the symptoms you are experiencing may be related to your thyroid, you should contact your doctor immediately to discuss the proper actions and treatment that should be taken. Different thyroid issues can affect people differently but there are some common symptoms that you should be aware of.

According to the American Thyroid Association, 60% of those living with a thyroid disease are unaware of their condition which makes it very important to be aware of the associated symptoms so you may realize if you develop a thyroid disease. If you begin to develop any of these symptoms, make note of how and when you noticed these changes to explain them to your doctor. The below symptoms are related to the certain type of thyroidism you may be diagnosed with, either hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism.

Symptoms of Hyperthyroidism

  • Weight loss despite increased appetite
  • Increased heart rate
  • Heart palpitations
  • High blood pressure
  • Nervousness
  • Excessive perspiration
  • More frequent bowel movements
  • Diarrhea
  • Muscle weakness
  • Trembling hands
  • Development of a goiter
  • Lighter or shorter menstrual periods

Symptoms of Hypothyroidism

  • Lethargy
  • Slower mental processes
  • Depression
  • Reduced heart rate
  • Increased sensitivity to cold
  • Tingling or numbness in the hands
  • Development of a goiter
  • Constipation
  • Heavy menstrual periods
  • Dry skin and hair

While anyone can experience thyroid issues, they commonly affect the following women/life changes:

  • Women (up to 10 times more likely than men to have thyroid disorder)
  • People with a family history of thyroid issues
  • Adults aged 50+
  • Individuals with Type 1 Diabetes
  • Women who have been pregnant within the past 6 months
  • People being treated with lithium for six months or more
  • Those with iodine exposure or deficiency
  • Smokers
  • People who have been exposed to radiation therapy, especially around the neck
Product Recommendation

Many times, you go to the doctor and automatically freeze up. Maybe you’re embarrassed to tell her all about your heavy periods, or talk about poop with them. What if you could have some medical answers from the comfort of your own home, without having to make a special appointment to meet with a doctor, or find a babysitter so your 4 year old son doesn’t have to learn things about Mommy that are kind of awkward. Enter EverlyWell Home Health Tests.

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All the EverlyWell tests are fast, private, simple, and affordable. Most of all, you can trust the results. You simply purchase the kit, collect the necessary items for the sample (some are blood, some are saliva, some are urine) mail it back in the prepaid envelope, and then within 5-7 business days, you can view your results easily from your computer or cell phone. All the tests are reviewed by a board certified physician, so you can rest easy that your health is in good hands, as well as your animosity.

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The sample collection is simple, and comes with a step by step instructional insert, so you won’t ever feel confused or lost. Our favorite part is the easy-to-read and understand results. There are no confusing numbers, or charts that you need a medical degree to comprehend. They are easy, and also include actions that you can take to improve your health. The At Home Thyroid Test from EverlyWell is the perfect fit, if you are suspecting that you may have an issue with your thyroid. The at-home thyroid test measures Free T4, Free T3, TSH, and TPO from a small blood spot sample taken with the items included into your kit. “TSH (Thyroid Stimulating Hormone) controls thyroid function in its production of active thyroid hormones, Free T4, and Free T3, which together control the rate at which your body uses energy. The test also measures TPO antibodies, which are antibodies that your body may make that can suppress thyroid function. By measuring your levels of each, you can learn about whether your thyroid may be over- or under-functioning.”

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If you want a more comprehensive hormone panel testing done, the Women’s Health Test is the way to go. It’s for women of all stages of life, from young adult to menopausal. It will let you know and see how your hormones are balanced in your body, and will give you easy, measurable, and obtainable health goals to improve them. They measure by using saliva and blood at different parts/times of your menstrual cycle.

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These hormones include:

  • Estradiol
  • Progesterone
  • LH (Luteinizing Hormone)
  • FSH (Follicle-Stimulating Hormone)
  • Testosterone
  • Cortisol at four times throughout the day
  • TSH (Thyroid-Stimulating Hormone)
  • Free T3
  • Free T4
  • TPO (Thyroid Peroxidase Antibodies)

Once your test results come in, EverlyWell suggests you share them with your doctor, so you can both work towards getting you back completely in control of your body, and your hormones. There are so many different types of at home health test kits available from EverlyWell, you’re sure to find exactly what you need.

How to Treat Your Thyroid

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Treatments will vary depending on which thyroid diseases you have. Although a majority of thyroid diseases are life-long conditions, they can be managed effectively with medical attention. Your treatment may require a medication that is taken  throughout your life; however, the consistency and regular maintenance of the prescribed treatment can successfully restore your thyroid to avoid additional complications. The American Thyroid Association explains that if you are diagnosed with a thyroid cancer, most thyroid cancers respond to treatments.

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Sources: What You Need to Know About the Thyroid, Understanding Thyroid Problems-Symptoms, Prevalence and Impact of Thyroid Disease

Photo by Simone van der Koelen on Unsplash | Memoirs Photography | Photo by Jennifer Burk on Unsplash| Photo by Quentin Keller on Unsplash

Sasha, mother of one, never has a dull moment with her wild child and prefers it that way! Previously a law enforcement officer, she is now the spokesperson for a fire department. Sasha lives in Daytona Beach, Florida and enjoys running, shopping, and pool parties.

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