Small but Mighty

What is small, shaped like a butterfly and controls many of your body functions?
Answer: Your Thyroid Gland.
Located above the Adam’s apple, your thyroid produces thyroid hormone (TH), which regulates temperature, metabolism, heartbeat and a plethora of other things from brain to bowels. Many body functions can be affected when your thyroid is under- or over-active. If it’s sluggish, it produces too little TH; overactive, and it produces too much.
More than 30 million Americans have a thyroid disorder and about half of them do not know it, according to The American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists. If you are a woman, you are 10 times more likely than men to have a thyroid problem, says integrative medicine specialist Dr. Robin Miller, co-author of The Smart Woman’s Guide to MidLife & Beyond. A thyroid dysfunction is the most common out of range level found from 9Health Fair results, bringing the possibility of relief to hundreds of participants each year.
While there are many thyroid diseases and disorders, the two most common are hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism.
Hypothyroidism, affecting about five percent of Americans, is a condition in which the thyroid gland does not produce enough hormones. Symptoms vary from person to person, and if left untreated, they tend to worsen over time. Temperature changes may be noticed more for people with hypothyroidism. There may also be a number of physical effects that can occur including:
  • Constipation
  • Fatigue
  • Weakness
  • Joint or muscle pain
  • Weight gain
  • Depression or memory problems

Hyperthyroidismis less common, affecting approximately one percent of the U.S. population, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Hyperthyroidism occurs when the thyroid gland produces an excess of hormones. Hyperthyroidism can lead to weight loss, excessive sweating, fast heartbeat, and a nervous mood. Other symptoms can include:
  • Brittle hair or skin thinning
  • Fatigue
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Nervousness or excessive sweating
  • Enlarged thyroid
  • Trembling in your hands

What causes your thyroid to get out of sync? It could be genetics, an autoimmune attack, pregnancy, stress, nutritional deficiencies, or toxins in the environment, but experts aren’t entirely sure. Treatments can be as simple as taking a medication depending on the condition. Finding out how your thyroid is functioning is the first step. 9Health Fair blood chemistry screening includes a TSH level which most health care providers will start with.

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