The Thyroid is a butterfly shaped gland brownish red in colour, located in in front of the windpipe in the lower neck. Its function in our body is to produce hormones and it also influences metabolic processes in the body.
The thyroid gland produces 2 main hormones (3 if you include Calcitonin, a less significant hormone):
Triiodothyronine or T3
Tetraiodothyronine (also called thyroxine) or T4
Regulation of metabolism and conversion of calories and oxygen into energy is the function of the thyroid. Proper functioning of thyroid enables breaking down of proteins and processing of carbohydrates and vitamins. Commonly seen thyroid problems are basically due to the abnormal production of thyroid hormones.
Hypothyroidism and Hyperthyroidism
Hyperthyroidism means excessive production of hormones by the gland and its symptoms are weight loss, excessive sweating, increase of heartbeat rate, high blood pressure, shortness of breath and more bowel movement than usual.
Hypothyroidism means a decrease in the production of hormones by the gland and its symptoms are weight gain, failure to lose weight despite proper weight loss regime, enlargement in neck, lethargy, low rate of heart beat, numbness in hands, dry skin, constipation, etc.
When the thyroid is under-active (hypothyroidism) or overactive (hyperthyroidism) many bodily functions are affected. There are certain symptoms in both the cases that are specifically seen in males. Under both the conditions, men might experience fertility problems. Loss of interest in sex and trouble having erections are symptoms that some men may have. Testosterone is a hormone which supports sperm production. Hypothyroidism may lead to overproduction of a pituitary hormone called prolactin. Too much prolactin may cause a drop in the production of testosterone which is why men face fertility problems.
Symptoms of Thyroid Dysfunction
Here are some signs and symptoms that could signify that all's not well with your thyroid.
- Fatigue – Feeling sluggish or lazy often can also mean something more than just a tiring day at office. In fact, frequent fatigue is considered a symptom of hypothyroidism. Low levels of thyroid hormones causes major problems with respect to the energy levels. It can lead to low levels of testosterone and the possibility for experiencing fatigue.
- Depression – an under-active thyroid can be the cause of depression. In case you are feeling too anxious or are filled with too many negative thoughts or are unable to perform daily tasks properly then it's time to get your thyroid checked.
- Loss of Hair – Hair cells are some of the fastest growing in the body. Usually, most of your hair is always growing while very few cells are resting. However, when there is a hormonal imbalance the condition is reversed. Thinning hair, losing large amounts everyday during shower or combing, change in the hair's texture are some of the telltale signs of thyroidism. It's not a permanent problem and can be set right with proper treatment.
- Weight Gain – If you are noticing sudden gain in weight especially when you are trying hard to lose weight, you must go for a thyroid test. Weight gain associated with a decreased appetite and attempts to control weight are symptoms of an underlying thyroid problem.
- Memory Loss – Loss of memory can be linked to a faltering thyroid. Finding it difficult to concentrate or forgetting routine things is commonly seen in people suffering from thyroid problems. Hypothyroidism is particularly known for causing memory problems as the body becomes less able to absorb the nutrients provided by foods.
- Sexual Dysfunction – Normal sexual function requires normal thyroid function. With men, too little thyroid hormone depresses libido, while too much causes impotence.
- Dizziness – Lightheadedness and fainting episodes point to the probability of an under-active thyroid. A thyroid hormone deficiency affects electrolytes and hormones, like cortisol, which affects the blood pressure leading to the dizzy feeling. The inner ear is very sensitive to the thyroid hormone, these fluctuations can cause dizziness.
10 Natural Remedies for Thyroid Dysfunction
Making these simple changes in your day to day life can keep your thyroid healthy.
- Diet change is the first step in controlling hypothyroidism problems. By eating foods rich in nutrients like Selenium that balance the hormones in the thyroid gland. Foods such as fish, meat, mushrooms, sunflower seeds, onion, soya bean can fulfil the selenium needs of thyroid glands.
- Iodine is essential for healthy thyroid function as it helps the thyroid gland produce the hormone thyroxin. Fill your diet with iodine rich foods like eggs, fish oils, and use iodized salt.
- Take lots of fresh fruits and green leafy vegetables. It is better to avoid cauliflower, cabbage and broccoli if you have hypothyroidism.
- A sedentary lifestyle is bad for thyroid problems. You must increase your physical activity. Regular exercising boosts the supply of oxygen in your body and keeps the thyroid in shape.
- Increase intake of protein, nuts, nut butters, eggs, farmed fish, legumes, soy products, and flax seeds.
- Reduce or eliminate caffeine intake, sugar, refined carbohydrates, high calorie foods, and carbonated drinks.
- Replace your coffee or tea with healthier herbal tea options. Herbal tea with ginger is beneficial for thyroid function.
- Thyroid function mainly depends on sufficient supply of healthy gut bacteria, so supplement it with probiotics.
- Thyroid glands are very sensitive and exceptionally reactive to stress. Hence, practise stress control and relax.
- Yogasanas like Sarvangasana and Matsyasana also helps in overcoming the problems of hypothyroidism. In case of hyperthyroidism, the suggested yogasanas include shishu asana and marjariasana. Pranayam such as Kapal Bhati, Nadi Shodhan, Bhastrika and Ujjayi also work well in reducing hypothyroidism symptoms.
Consult your doctor or a specialist in endocrinology if you are regularly facing any of the above mentioned symptoms to determine the best course of treatment.
Let us know in the comments below how you deal with your thyroid issues.