Helping you understand this little and powerful gland.
Perhaps you have heard of the thyroid gland. It’s a common body part to hear of when the conversation turns to weight issues, energy or dry skin for example.
This gland is our energy engine. It helps us with our pep, with our get-up-and-go. And when we can’t get up and go anywhere, it’s often the first place we look in medicine to see what’s up with that?
Where is it and where does it work?
This little engine sits at the lower front part of our neck . The effects aren’t just there however. This engine produces tiny things (hormones) that then travel to other organs in the body and that is where the effects take place. These hormones are the key to body energy function.
Why we think to look to the thyroid?
We commonly notice the thyroid when it is low functioning. The most common symptom is, fatigue. But as we are all individual, it may not present that way for all. Other common symptoms that can come on slowly are severe headaches, repeated infections, skin problems, menstrual disturbances, concentration difficulties, Chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, depression, dizziness, paranoid symptoms, infertility, muscle aches, hearing disturbances, gout, arthritis, hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), poor absorption of your nutrients from your food, constipation, burning and prickly bodily sensations, and higher cholesterol with increase risk of heart disease. (Think about that one for a minute….. You could be on cholesterol lowering drugs but it may not be that your cholesterol in high because your body is making too much. It may be that your thyroid isn’t allowing for the cholesterol to be used up properly and therefore it stockpiles. Fix the thyroid and the cholesterol may go back to normal. We can talk about that one later)
Have a look at this image to see common symptoms for HyPER and HyPO functioning thyroid
What are the thyroid hormones?
Yes…first things first.
High up in the brain in the Hypothalamus, a hormone called TRH is released.
This goes on to another part of the brain, the pituitary, that produces TSH (Thyroid Stimulating Hormone) As it’s name says, it STIMULATES the thyroid.
It stimulates the thyroid to produce Thyroxine, we just call it T4 as it’s easier. And a little bit of T3.
But that hormone isn’t the active form, it is just the first stage. That T4, goes through the body and is changed in the liver to the T3, the worker bee, the hormone that can actually have an effect in the tissues.
That’s a good amount for 101- next post will go into explanations of common findings on lab work