Metabolism and the Thyroid


You’ve heard about that part of your body called the thy­roid, right? Well, if you haven’t then it’s time you did. The thy­roid is a butterfly-shaped organ that is below your Adam’s apple. The thy­roid helps reg­u­late your metab­o­lism, helps your body grow and develop, and also helps your body’s tem­per­a­ture stay con­sis­tent. Your thy­roid depends on iodine to keep every­thing run­ning smoothly. Prob­lems with your thy­roid can cause sig­nif­i­cant bod­ily trou­ble. Here are 7 of the most com­mon thy­roid con­di­tions, their symp­toms, and their treatments.

Hypothy­roidism

  • This hap­pens when your thy­roid doesn’t pro­duce enough thy­roid hormones.
  • Some symp­toms are: for­get­ful­ness, dry, brit­tle hair and nails, weight gain, puffy face, sore mus­cles, and fatigue.
  • To treat it, you usu­ally need levothy­rox­ine, a hor­mone that will help replace what is destroyed by the immune system.

Hyper­thy­roidism

  • This hap­pens when thy­roid pro­duces too much thy­roid hormone.
  • Some symp­toms are: fast heart rate, trem­bling hands, weight and hair loss, mus­cle weak­ness, and fin­ger­nails sep­a­rat­ing from their nail beds.
  • There are dif­fer­ent treat­ments that are admin­is­tered depend­ing on how severe the hyper­thy­roidism is. They include: antithy­roid drugs, radioac­tive iodine treat­ment, and remov­ing the thyroid.

Hashimoto’s Thy­roidi­tis

  • This hap­pens when a person’s immune sys­tem rec­og­nizes thy­roid cells as bad bac­te­ria (instead of good cells) and gets rid of them. This results in a lack of thy­roid cells (and thy­roid hor­mone) to help the body.
  • Some symp­toms are: swelling in the lower front of the neck, dif­fi­culty swal­low­ing, a pres­sure sen­sa­tion on the lower neck, fatigue, con­sti­pa­tion, and sore muscles.
  • Doc­tors treat this con­di­tion with levothyroxine.

Graves’ dis­ease

  • This hap­pens when your immune sys­tem makes anti­bod­ies that causes the thy­roid to cre­ate an over­abun­dance of thy­roid hormones.
  • Some symp­toms are: anx­i­ety, irri­tabil­ity, fatigue, rapid or irreg­u­lar heart­beat, sen­si­tiv­ity to heat, and weight loss.
  • There are 3 treat­ments that are sug­gested. They are med­ica­tions, radioio­dine ther­apy, and removal of the thyroid.

Thy­roid Nodules/Goiters

  • Nod­ules occur as fluid-filled lumps on your thy­roid, and goi­ters are inflamed or enlarged thyroids.
  • There are no spe­cific symp­toms, other than notic­ing the lump, or hav­ing the sen­sa­tion of pres­sure on your lower neck and dif­fi­culty swallowing.
  • Most nod­ules and goi­ters don’t need to be treated. How­ever, some doc­tors will pre­scribe levothy­rox­ine or radioio­dine. If they are malig­nant or prob­lem­atic, then doc­tors will sug­gest surgery.

Thy­roid Cancer

  • While there are four main types of thy­roid can­cers, two occur most fre­quently. The can­cer can spread from the thy­roid to the neck lymph nodes, lungs, and bones.
  • There are no symp­toms for this. The can­cer is found through rou­tine scans, or catch­ing the thy­roid enlarging.
  • Doc­tors treat this through surgery, radioac­tive iodine, and exter­nal radiation.