Have you ever felt like your metabolism may be off? Do you have difficulty losing weight? Experienced unexplained weight gain? Hair loss? Chronic fatigue? You may have a thyroid issue. Around 27 million Americans suffer from a thyroid-related illness. Thankfully precise laboratory testing can clarify if there is abnormal function of the thyroid gland. There are different ways your metabolism can be improperly running. If there’s a problem with your metabolism, you most likely will be diagnosed with hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism. Both hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism affect the same gland but have opposite effects on the body.
I want to briefly discuss the thyroid gland, which is in the front of your neck. The thyroid secretes hormones that help the body use energy properly while also maintaining the brain, heart, muscles, and other organs. When something is off, the thyroid can become overactive (hyperthyroidism) or underactive (hypothyroidism). The biggest difference between these two conditions is the thyroid’s hormone output.
With hyperthyroidism, the thyroid gland is making too much of the thyroid hormone whereas it doesn’t make enough for the body in hypothyroidism.
With hyperthyroidism, a person’s body functions are sped up. Persons have a faster than normal metabolism. The result includes signs and symptoms of weight loss, heat intolerance, insomnia, difficulty focusing their attention, elevated heart rate and/or palpitations and overactive bowels.
Graves’ disease is a common cause of hyperthyroidism. This disease is an autoimmune disorder that causes the overproduction of thyroid hormones; it’s most commonly occurring in women under 40.
Opposite to hyperthyroidism, hypothyroidism is when the metabolism slows down, along with a person’s intestinal tract and heart rate. Because of these sluggish bodily systems, a person can experience weight gain, slow pulse, constipation, dry skin and hair, fatigue, forgetfulness, depression, brittle nails, and in women decreased menstrual flow.
The most common cause for hypothyroidism is Hashimotos’s disease, which is also an autoimmune disease. In this condition, the immune system produces antibodies that destroy thyroid cells resulting in loss of functioning tissue.
The following health conditions associated with hypothyroidism: diabetes, depression, chronic fatigue syndrome, PMS, iron deficiency, chronic stress, chronic pain, and insulin resistance.
If you are experiencing many of these above symptoms, it’s time to reach out to a doctor before your symptoms get worse. Dr. Kordonowy of Internal Medicine, Lipid & Wellness is a concierge, patient membership physician in Fort Myers, and provides direct primary care services. He will be able to order testing for your thyroid and direct you to the proper treatment depending on the results. To book an appointment, click here or call 239-362-3005, ext. 200.