Your thyroid is a very small gland that wraps around your trachea in the neck, but despite its small size, it plays a huge role in your overall health and wellness. Poor thyroid function is often associated with things like slow metabolism and weight gain, but it can actually impact many other things as well. These symptoms often mimic other maladies, though, so you may not realize that it’s your thyroid that is causing these problems.
What Your Thyroid Does
Before you can understand the problems associated with your thyroid, it’s important to understand the role of this gland in your body. The thyroid is part of the endocrine system, which regulates hormones, and produces the “master metabolism” hormone that interacts with everything from insulin and cortisol (stress hormones) to estrogen, testosterone, and progesterone.
In conjunction with your pituitary gland, which releases thyroid releasing hormone (TRH), and your hypothalamus, which makes thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH), the thyroid produced T2, T3, and T4, which regulate metabolism and help balance out things like nutrition, toxins, allergens, and stress in your body.
Symptoms of Thyroid Problems
The symptoms of a poorly functioning thyroid are often general, and are thus attributed to other causes besides thyroid health. The most noticeable symptom for people is unexplained weight gain, but there are often many other signs, including:
- Chronic fatigue
- Irregular menstruation
- Dull or lifeless hair and nails
- Hair loss
- Dry skin
- Cold hands or feet
Potential Risks of Poor Thyroid Function
A thyroid that is not functioning properly can lead to numerous potential problems for people who are unaware and don’t receive treatment, including:
- Heart disease
- Muscle and joint pain
- Bowel and digestion issues
- Autoimmune disease
- High cholesterol
- Gum disease
- Memory problems
Unfortunately many people with hypothyroidism (an underactive thyroid) are never diagnosed, and those who are diagnosed may not get proper treatment. In order to rebalance your hormones and improve thyroid function, it’s important to eat a healthy diet, get plenty of rest, avoid excessive sugar, processed food, soy-based foods, and chemicals, and keep your stress levels under control.
When these things still don’t help, talk to your healthcare provider or consider a supplement that could help improve your thyroid function. Just like any other chronic illness, correcting a thyroid problem means addressing the underlying issues and improving your overall health to reduce the negative effects.