The thyroid gland is a crucial hormone-producing endocrine gland that plays a major role in your metabolism, growth, and development. The thyroid, which is situated at the base of your neck, releases hormones into the bloodstream that control numerous bodily functions, including energy expenditure and heart rate.
Most people are unaware of how important the thyroid is to their health until it falters. Thyroid disorders affect millions of people in the United States, and women are more affected than men.
As an endocrinologist, Sam Morayati, MD, routinely evaluates, diagnoses, and treats thyroid disorders. Healthy thyroid function is vital to your overall health.
The thyroid produces the hormones T3 and T4 in cells known as follicular epithelial cells. Iodine is one of the primary components of both hormones. Due to the inability of our systems to produce this trace mineral, you must get enough iodine through your diet.
The thyroid makes hormones, as needed. Occasionally, our systems require more thyroid hormones, and sometimes, they require fewer. The thyroid gland requires the assistance of the pituitary gland in order to produce the optimal amount of hormones.
The pituitary gland instructs the thyroid gland to release more or fewer hormones into the bloodstream. If the body requires extra hormones, T3 and T4 are released from blood proteins to perform their function.
Thyroid hormones exert the following effects on the body:
- Increases body temperature
- Increases pulse rate
- Raises heart rate
- Increases metabolism
- Activates certain nerve cells
- Helps to regulate menstrual cycle
- Helps with brain development in children
Controlling the rate at which the body turns food into energy is one of the main roles of the thyroid. When the body needs to conserve energy, the thyroid cuts back on its hormone production. This plays an important role in adapting to changing energy needs.
Thyroid hormone imbalance
Hypothyroidism is the most common thyroid hormone imbalance. It happens when there’s a lack of thyroid hormone. Think of thyroid hormones as gasoline for a car. Without enough thyroid hormones, your body simply can’t run optimally. Physiological processes slow down, and symptoms occur, such as:
- Weight gain
- Feeling cold
- Dry hair
- Low mood
- Brain fog
- Trouble concentrating
On the other end of the spectrum, hyperthyroidism is when the thyroid produces too much of its hormones. While this occurs less commonly than hypothyroidism, treatment is equally as important. When you have too much thyroid hormone you may experience:
- Loose stool
- Heat intolerance
- Trouble sleeping
- Weight loss
Occasionally, the entire thyroid gland enlarges, or nodules develop within the gland. In rare instances, cancer develops. It’s essential to see a doctor if you have symptoms of thyroid problems or if you’re concerned about your thyroid health.
How thyroid problems can affect your daily life
Thyroid issues can impact many aspects of your life. Persistent fatigue can make it difficult to go about your day and take care of your responsibilities. You may struggle with work or school, and find that you need to take naps just to get through the day.
Good quality sleep may evade you, compounding your tiredness during the day. Your mood may take a hit, and you may find that you’re no longer doing the things that you normally enjoy. What’s more, most people who have thyroid issues are unaware of it, so you may not feel like yourself, yet feel confused about what the problem is.
Getting treatment for thyroid problems
When you come in for a thyroid evaluation, Dr. Morayati asks you questions about your baseline health, lifestyle, and any symptoms you may have, along with ordering relevant blood tests. Thyroid tests check your blood to evaluate your hormone levels. Dr. Morayati may also order tests for thyroid antibodies. In some cases, Dr. Morayati may order a thyroid ultrasound to check for things like nodules and thyroid enlargement.
Your thyroid is crucial to your overall health, and when there’s an imbalance, you simply won’t feel well. If you have symptoms of a thyroid disorder, or suspect that you have a thyroid imbalance, our team is ready to help you get answers and improve your health. Call our team at our Burlington, North Carolina, office to schedule a visit or book online today.