Oprah Winfrey, Gigi Hadid, Gina Rodriguez, Zoe Saldana, Nia Vardalos, and Jillian Michaels all have hypothyroid. Wendy Williams, Missy Elliot, Former President George H. W. Bush, His wife, former First Lady Barbara Bush, and interestingly enough, George and Barbara’s dog, Millie, have hyperthyroid. So, if your thyroid is to too active or not active enough… you are in good company. An estimated 20 million Americans have some form of thyroid disease. To help our readers gain more knowledge on this topic, we’ve got a professional, Dr. Meika of Carepoint Health, to help us better explain what it really means to have Hyperthyroid.
What is a thyroid? And where do I find it?
It is a small, butterfly-shaped gland in your neck just below the “Adam’s apple”. The two “wings” of the thyroid gland AKA the left and right thyroid lobes wrap around the trachea. The gland makes hormones that regulate your body’s metabolism.
The Wheels on the Bus Go Round + Round
There is a very intricate and complicated feedback loop with positive and negative regulation that involved the hypothalamus, the pituitary and the thyroid secreting and regulating TRH, TSH, and T3 (triiodothyronine) and T4 (thyroxine) respectively.
Now, if this feedback loop isn’t working right… or your body cannot self-regulate the hormones then you may be hypo or hypothyroid.
Too much of the hormone is called Hyperthyroidism. Graves’ disease is the most common cause of hyperthyroidism. Graves’ is an autoimmune disorder that occurs when the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks the gland. The disease is hereditary and may develop at any age in men or women, but it’s much more common in women ages 20 to 30. If you have untreated Hyperthyroid you may have:
- racing heart
- increased sweating
- trouble sleeping
- thin skin
- brittle hair and nails
- muscle weakness
- weight loss
- bulging eye )in Graves’ disease)
The other extreme is Hypothyroidism characterized by too little thyroid hormone. Hypothyroidism is often caused by Hashimoto’s disease, aka chronic lymphocytic thyroiditis, affecting 14 million Americans, and most commonly occurs in middle-aged women. This is an autoimmune disease that mistakenly attacks and slowly destroys the gland and its ability to produce hormones. Hypothyroid leads to symptoms such as:
- dry skin
- increased sensitivity to cold
- memory problems
- weight gain
- slow heart rate
- dry, thinning hair
- pale, puffy face
- heavy + irregular menstruation
So, how is it diagnosed? If you go to your doctor with any of these symptoms, they will do blood test to measure levels of thyroid hormone (T4 and T3), and TSH, and the other not so common thyroid tests should be done too, just so that you don’t miss anything, reverse T3 (RT3), and Thyroid Peroxidase Antibodies and Thyroglobulin Antibodies. And, the tried and true physical examination can sometimes reveal an enlarged thyroid, enlarged bulging eyes, and signs of increased metabolism, including rapid pulse and high blood pressure. When the T3 and T4 are high and the TSH is low you may be Hyperthyroid, whereas if the T3 and T4 are low and the TSH is high you may be hypothyroid.
Having that said, treatment will depend upon if you have hyper or hypothyroid. The goal of treatment is to get everything back to a steady state. If you are hyperthyroid you may need, medications to block your thyroid from producing excessive amounts of hormone, or radioactive iodine to destroy all or part of your thyroid, or there’s surgery to remove your thyroid gland. Sometimes you may need medications like beta-blockers to control the symptoms like rapid heart rate, anxiety, and sweating. The main treatment for hypothyroidism is to take thyroid hormone pills. You will have to get regular blood tests to make sure that your hormones stay in balance once you are on medications.
Just A Little Ode To Iodized Table Salt:
Goiter + some other thyroid disorders have become rare in the US, thanks in part to iodized table salt. Iodized salt is a key factor for a healthy thyroid gland. The body does not make iodine, You need to get iodine through foods, which include dairy products, saltwater fish, shellfish, seaweed, soy milk, and soy sauce, according to the American Thyroid Association. Iodine deficiency was greatly reduced in the U.S. in the 1920s following the introduction of iodized salt.
Though you may be in good company if you get thyroid disease, and there is no way to prevent it, you can prevent its complications by getting diagnosed right away and following the treatment your doctor prescribes.
Have a question for Dr. Meika that you want answered [anonymously]? Email us! Hello@hobokengirl.com.