Your thyroid is the small gland at the front-base of your neck. If somebody could see through you, it would look like you were wearing a small bow tie under your skin. This gland helps regulate your energy levels, your metabolism, and as a by-product, it also affects your mood, your overall well-being, and even your mental health.
Thyroid-Stimulating Hormone Test (TSH)
If you are a woman, over the age of 60, and have a certain genetic disposition, then you may have trouble with your thyroid. It is a tricky devil in that many of the symptoms of thyroid disorders can stand on their own merit, many are slow to show, and many of the symptoms can be mistaken for something else.
Quite often, symptoms are mistaken for an iron deficiency. Plus, symptoms like depression can stand on their own since people do not need a biological reason to develop depression. Luckily, if a doctor suspects thyroid trouble, he or she may order a TSH test to help identify the problem.
Starting at the Back of Your Tongue
Scans show that the thyroid spends most of its time at the back of your tongue while you are a foetus but descends just below the Adam’s apple before you are born. Also, contrary to popular belief, women also have Adam’s apples, but they are much less pronounced than on men.
Your thyroid uses many micronutrients, which is why a balanced diet is important. However, its primary chemical is iodine (found in salt), which it takes in and converts into thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3). Thyroid cells are the only cells able to genuinely take in iodine, and they do this to combine the iodine with Tyrosine (an amino acid), to create T4 or T3.
As we grow to understand the workings of the thyroid, we are also growing to understand the nature of obesity. For example, a high fat diet causes obesity, but not because of its calorie content. It is because the fat is oxidized in such a manner that you feel more lethargic and are therefore less likely to burn off the calorific content of your meal. In other words, if you were forced to do 30 minutes of vigorous exercise every day, then you could eat a fatty breakfast every day with no ill effects.
Stronger and Weaker Hormones
Asking which is stronger, the T3 or T4, sounds like a James Cameron movie trivia question. However, the T3 hormone is actually far more potent than the T4, which may explain why your thyroid creates four times more T4 hormone than it does T3. The release of each hormone helps to regulate your metabolism, such as by helping your body to add oxygen to fat in order to create energy.
This is a very basic way of saying that the thyroid regulates your metabolism mostly through actions in the brain, white fat, brown fat, pancreas, skeletal muscle and the liver. As is often amazing about human biology, the hormones produced interact with several parts of the body, and in many cases the interactions are completely different. For example, in the muscles we see the hormones affecting energy expenditure and muscle repair, whereas in the pancreas we see thyroid hormones affecting pancreas function and development. There are also several interactions set in motion by the pituitary in the brain, which interact with thyroid hormones in order to maintain other functions around the body.
Treating Thyroid Problems
Finding out what the problem is may be the biggest dilemma. Sometimes, thyroid problems can be caused by your current medication, and sometimes it may be caused by another illness, damage to your thyroid, and even by cancer. On other occasions, things like ingesting high amounts of iodine may cause have caused your problem, or sometimes it is due to Graves disease affecting your thyroid hormones. Check out this website for a complete guide on the T3 and T4 hormones, so that you may understand how Graves disease affects your body.
If the cause of your problem cannot be treated, then you often have to take medication around three times per day. This medication is often a replacement for whatever hormone your thyroid is “Not” pumping out. Other times, medication is taken to slow the production of certain hormones in the thyroid.
Side effects for thyroid medication are common, albeit not in the strictest sense of the word. A side-effect is often an undesirable condition brought on through the fact that medications are not refined enough so that they only contain the active ingredient.
However, in the case of most thyroid medications, complications/side-effects occur because you are adding a hormone into your body in an unregulated fashion. Under normal circumstances, your body would regulate itself so that just the right amount of hormone is released at just the right time, but when you take medications (even if you take them correctly every day), you are adding too much or too little hormone, and sometimes your body reacts to this intrusion with stomach cramps, diarrhoea, and so forth. In many cases, the worst “Side effects” are the symptoms of Hyperthyroidism or Hypothyroidism, all of which occur simply because you have changed your hormonal balance (albeit purposefully and by design).