The Thyroid And Your Health
The thyroid gland is situated in your neck below your voice box. It is one of the most important glands in your body because it secretes the hormones that govern metabolism and influences every cell, tissue and organ in the body. Disturbances in thyroid function can lead to serious complications if left untreated. The thyroid gland can become under active, known as hypothyroidism, or overactive, known as hyperthyroidism. It is estimated that 15%- 20% of women may have some degree of thyroid dysfunction.
When the thyroid gland is under-active it is not secreting enough of the hormones triiodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine (T4). These hormones are very important in sustaining health and can elicit a wide variety of symptoms if they are low. These symptoms can be both physical and mental and can` include:
Inability to lose weight
Dry skin, course dry or thin hair
Muscle aches and cramps
Less commonly, the thyroid gland may be over-active, secreting too much thyroid hormone. The symptoms you may experience with an overactive thyroid include:
Frequent bowel movements
The standard test for the diagnosis of thyroid dysfunction is a blood analysis of TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) levels. Unfortunately TSH alone does not provide the complete picture. It is not uncommon for these routine blood tests to miss thyroid disorders, leaving patients to suffer without treatment options. A full thyroid panel should include TSH, T3, T4 and thyroid antibodies.
TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone):
TSH is a hormone produced in the pituitary gland in the brain, that stimulates your body to produce thyroid hormone. If TSH is high, your thyroid gland is likely not producing enough T3 and T4. TSH is what is most commonly measured when thyroid dysfunction is suspected.
About 90% of hormone produced by the thyroid gland is T4. It is the least active form of thyroid hormone. T4 is metabolized to the more active hormone T3 outside of the thyroid gland.
About 10% of the hormone produced by the thyroid is T3. This is the most active hormone that the thyroid produces.
Thyroid anti-bodies (TPO, TSI):
Anti-bodies are measured to determine if your thyroid dysfunction is due to an autoimmune disease. It is estimated that up to 80% of women who have
hypothyroidism have it due to an autoimmune conditions refereed to as Hashimoto’s Disease.
The symptoms of thyroid imbalance can go undetected for many years because they are so general and unspecific. Dr. Gaucher offers a comprehensive thyroid evaluation, including serum TSH, T4, T3 and thyroid anti-bodies, to all patients with suspected thyroid dysfunction. She utilizes a variety of therapies including diet, lifestyle, botanicals and medication to assist patients in achieving optimal thyroid function. Evaluation and treatment of other related systems such as sex hormones and adrenal function are also necessary to achieve better outcomes when working with thyroid disease
1. Wartofsky L, Dickey RA, The evidence for a narrower thyrotropin reference range is compelling. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2005 Sep;90(9):5483-8.
2. Surks MI, Ortiz E, Daniels GH, et al. Subclinical thyroid disease: scientific review and guidelines for diagnosis and management. JAMA 2004; 291:228.