Epidemic Levels of Patients with Hypothyroid Problems Reported
The thyroid gland plays an important part in overall health and well being. That being said, it is no surprise that the word "thyroid" comes from the Greek words "thyreos" and "eidos" that mean "in from the shield". And the thyroid is like a shield, in a way, and spreads across the front of the trachea.
Measuring only a tiny two inches wide, the butterfly-shaped thyroid gland nonetheless plays a major role in determining your overall health. So when Dr. Jackie Arnold, who practices naturopathic medicine in Great Falls, Montana, came to the realization that the number of people in her office with hypothyroidism is at an epidemic level, she naturally became concerned.
Possible Cause of Hypothyroidism
Dr. Arnold's speculation is that high number of hypothyroid patients in the Great Falls area could have to do with the heavy metals and toxins in the area. Dr. Arnold sates that the toxins in the area can affect the sensitive thyroid gland and she also theorizes that the use of birth control could also add to the high number of thyroid disorders in her area. Dr. Arnold commented that the thyroid is among some of the most sensitive glands in the body and that it can react negatively to being assaulted by estrogen.
Dr. Arnold has noted in her patient population many women who use birth control in younger years may see thyroid-related side effects later in their thirty or forties, even later. Thyroid disorders can cause infertility and problems with menstrual cycles according to Dr. Arnold. "It can also wreak havoc in menopause," Arnold said.
Life of a Hypothyroid Patient
Hypothyroid life can be difficult. A hypothyroid patient can feel sluggish, tired, and out of sorts with many aches and pains. No matter what diet is maintained, the hypothyroid patient can suffer from weight gain due to an underactive thyroid. For the lucky two-thirds of hypothyroid patients who are diagnosed and treated correctly, their hypothyroidism is treated and the patient can achieve complete recovery. Metabolism returns to a correct state of balance, symptoms gradually subside and the patient feels "normal" again.
For the unlucky one-third of hypothyroid patients, diagnosis is not so easy to make. The physicians are not sure what is wrong with the patient and usually conduct a battery of tests, none of which show any abnormalities. It is possible that the physician suspects a thyroid disorder, but the lab tests conducted are either inconclusive or are completely normal.
Whenever the thyroid gland stops functioning properly, a patient needs to take a thyroid hormone supplement. And in the case of hypothyroidism following a thyroidectomy, this is a definitive treatment for hypothyroidism. But in the case of a patient that has not had a thyroidectomy, the treatment may be more complex. In some cases, hypothyroidism can develop after pregnancy or menopause. Thyroid hormones are necessary for body functions and a qualified endocrinologist should be consulted if any type of thyroid disorder is suspected. A thyroid disorder can affect intellect, memory, emotions and many other important factors of a healthy life.
Consult a Thyroid Professional
No treatment strategy is without risk of complications and thyroid therapy is no exception. So if you or a loved one is suffering from a thyroid disorder, it is recommended that a qualified and experienced thyroid professional be consulted right away.
Diet and Your Underactive Thyroid
A Case Study of Weight Gain Due to a Thyroid Disorder
Despite popular research studies and news articles pointing to the effect of a slowing thyroid – also called hypothyroidism – many people are unaware of the side effects that may be occurring in their body due to this thyroid disorder. For many people suffering from weight gain, the cause and the ultimate solution for their weight gain can seem unreachable.
Hypothyroidism has many causes, the most popular called Hashimotos’ Thyroiditis, a condition that for no obvious reason, the body’s immune system systematically attacks its own cells, resulting in antibodies being created and misdirected toward the thyroid gland. In many cases, a feeling of sluggishness and tiredness can result. And anyone who has suffered from this will confirm, unexpected weight gain can result leaving the person feeling without hope or answers as to why this has happened.
How One Woman Combated Weight Gain Due to Underactive Thyroid
A recent news article explains how one woman combated her underactive thyroid and resulting weight gain with an aggressive diet strategy called a vegan diet plan. Angela Stokes explains how her underactive thyroid gland led to her weight gain – even to the extent of her ballooning to the weight of over three hundred pounds! The result was that she felt miserable and very unwell. She battled many infections and illnesses. She knew her thyroid was underactive, but until a friend gave her the gift of a book about the vegan diet and lifestyle, Ms. Stokes did not know how to combat weight gain due to her underactive thyroid gland.
Vegan Lifestyle Recommendations From a Veteran
Angela launched into her new diet plan without looking back. She began her vegan diet and within one year had lost over one hundred and fifty pounds. She felt better, had more energy, and was happier. Ms. Stokes now has authored several books on the vegan lifestyle, and recommends to others that they take it slowly and not dive in as quickly as she did. Also, Angela recommends networking with others that share the common goal of following the vegan diet plan.
Recommendations From a Dietician
A registered dietician and spokesperson for the American Diabetic Association, Andrea Giancoli commented that we could all benefit from eating more fresh fruits and vegetables. This is regardless of a thyroid condition. The American diet of processed foods and red meat has many cons while the pros of a fresh fruit and vegetable diet are numerous.
The Hypothyroid Diet
Research studies suggest that over-processed, or foods that are over-refined, should be avoided in the case of an underactive thyroid gland. White bread, white flour and fast food junk food are included on this list.
In most cases, a person suffering from an underactive thyroid – or hypothyroidism – should avoid goitrogenic foods. These types of foods are naturally produced foods that can possibly increase the likelihood of developing a goiter by decreasing thyroid hormone production. These are foods that disrupt the production of the thyroid gland and are categorized into two groups: soybean-related foods and cruciferous vegetable.
Soybean Related Foods and Thyroid Hormone
Soybean related foods are actually healthy in most cases, but if a person has an underactive thyroid they should avoid the isoflavones in soy, which have been linked to decreased thyroid hormone output. The reason these types of foods are associated with reduced thyroid hormone output is because they block the activity of an enzyme called thyroid peroxidase.
Certain Vegetables Can Disrupt Messages Sent Across Thyroid Cells
Like the isoflavones in soybean related foods, isothiocyanates have been shown by researchers to reduce thyroid function by interfering with thyroid peroxidase, as well as by disrupting messages sent across the membranes of thyroid cells. For these reasons, some physicians recommend that people who suffer from hypothyroidism avoid the following vegetables: broccoli, brussel sprouts, cauliflower and cabbage including kale and kohlrabi. Plus mustards, rutabaga and turnips should be avoided if following a low thyroid diet.
Consult a Professional
Preventative measures should be discussed in your physician’s office, so it is highly recommended that if you are suffering from hypothyroidism and want to address your low thyroid with diet, speak to a professional.
For further reading:
Many patients report that before treatment for hypothyroidism, they suffered from fatigue and weight gain.
What is Hypothyroidism?
The most common thyroid disorder is called hypothyroidism. It is described as a condition in which the thyroid gland becomes underactive and does not produce enough thyroid hormone. Hypothyroidism is most common in women who are in their middle ages. Although less common, hypothyroidism does occur in children. Neonatal hypothyroidism is a dangerous condition in which a pregnant woman suffers from hypothyroidism. It can lead to problems with the un-born fetus such as mental retardation, jaundice, and growth problems. Prompt treatment, however, can minimize these problems during a pregnancy.
Many patients report that before being diagnosed with hypothyroidism, they suffered from fatigue and weight gain. After treatment, energy and other tedious symptoms disappeared. One patient reports "I have more energy and my memory isn't hazy anymore. I actually feel like getting off of the couch."
Causes of Hypothyroidism
Hypothyroidism is an autoimmune disorder in which the antibodies attack and gradually destroy the thyroid gland. In many countries, the lack of iodine in people's diets can lead to hypothyroidism. The thyroid gland requires iodine to operate correctly. Severe iodine deficiency is not seen in the U.S., Japan and some countries in Europe where there is a sufficient supply of iodine in water and food.
Symptoms of Hypothyroidism
The most common symptoms of hypothyroidism are fatigue, weight gain, sleepiness, depression, constipation, an enlarged thyroid, intolerance to cold, hoarse voice and forgetfulness.
Treatment for Hypothyroidism
The treatment for hypothyroidism requires the replacement of thyroid hormones with medication. The easiest method of which to accomplish involves a synthetic form of T4 that is taken in pill form. T4, also called thyroxin, is the thyroid storage hormone. Doses are adjusted and prescribed by a health care professional.
It is important to understand that the failure of the thyroid gland in hypothyroid patients is a gradual process; therefore, a dose that is appropriate for a patient one year may subsequently be too low the following year.
Consult your Doctor
Preventive measures include a simple blood test called the thyroid stimulating hormone or TSH test. This will give your health care professional the data he/she needs to ward off the disease before its onset.
After treatment has begun for hypothyroid patients, it is important that the patient have long-term follow up treatment so that thyroid hormone and TSH levels can be re-checked. Hypothyroidism is a relatively easy illness to treat and keep under control, and in most cases, the medicine does not have any negative side effects.
Please check back each week for more of the thyroid research news for your health.
Getting to the Heart of the Matter:
The Thyroid-Congestive Heart Failure Link
The human endocrine system is an extremely complicated biological mechanism. The regulation of hormone levels in our bodies can impact virtually every aspect of our physical and mental health, and when things go awry in this system, the consequences can be devastating. Many scientists have argued that current research has only begun to scratch the surface in terms of understanding the full significance of hormones and their health impact in the human body.
Many men and women diagnosed with thyroid disorders often have a deep-seated understanding of the broad impact of these health problems. The spectrum of symptoms and problems that have been linked to thyroid malfunction ranges runs the gamut from anxiety to weight gain -- and includes stops at virtually every letter in the medical dictionary along the way. Indeed, in the eyes of patients dealing with a thyroid diagnosis, it can often seem like there are very few health factors that thyroid problems can't cause.
Out of the full range of associated symptoms and health problems that have been linked to thyroid disorders, one stands out as particularly serious -- congestive heart failure. In recent decades, a number of prominent studies have established correlations between thyroid problems and an increased risk of developing congestive heart failure. This week, we'll take a closer look at the link between thyroid disorders and congestive heart failure, as well as some of the new research that is emerging to offer hope to patients with this dual diagnosis.
What is Congestive Heart Failure?
Although patients diagnosed with hyperthyroidism can experience heart problems, including palpitations and tachycardia, but congestive heart failure has rarely, if ever, been linked to an overactive thyroid gland. On the other hand, a clear and compelling link between hypothyroidism (slow thyroid function) and congestive heart failure has been established in the research literature over the last several decades.
Despite its frightening name, congestive heart failure is a medical term that simply describes a failure of the heart muscle to perform at an optimum level. Patients diagnosed with congestive heart failure have hearts that are weak and do not pump as well as they should. Obviously, congestive heart failure hinders the circulatory system's ability to do its job properly.
But what may not be as clear is the severe health impact that this dysfunction can have. Because of substandard pumping and circulation, patients with congestive heart failure have deficient levels of nutrients and oxygen on the cellular level. As a result, the basic tasks of daily life can feel like a massive undertaking. For many patients with congestive heart failure, quality of life and overall well-being are significantly diminished.
The Link Between Hypothyroidism and Congestive Heart Failure
It is not fully understood how and to what extent hypothyroidism causes congestive heart failure, or whether the heart damage that can result in congestive heart failure plays a role in causing thyroid dysfunction. What is clear, however, is that these two disorders often co-exist.
One leading theory holds that because hypothyroidism can increase cholesterol levels in the blood, this can cause hardening of the arteries. This, in turn, can lead to the valve damage that is often a precursor of congestive heart failure. In addition, it is believed that the lack of thyroid hormone in the blood can impact the heart's ability to beat and pump properly.
Prognosis and Outlook
Congestive heart failure is a serious condition, and as uch, patients who are dually diagnosed with congestive heart failure and hypothyroidism often face a challenging battle to maintain health and quality of life.
However, the prognosis for dually-diagnosed patients is often very good. In fact, when the underlying hypothyroidism is being properly treated, many patients undergo significant improvement -- and in some cases even a reversal -- of congestive heart failure symptoms.
As such, the key to proper management of these disorders is to comply with all prescribed medication regimens, taking care to ensure that thyroid hormone levels remain as stable and consistent as possible. In addition, a healthy diet, frequent periods of rest, minimal sodium intake, and daily low-intensity exercise are all components of successful management of a dual diagnosis of hypothyroidism and congestive heart failure.
If you have been diagnosed with hypothyroidism and congestive heart failure, consult with your medical team to develop a customized treatment management plan that's tailored to your specific needs. Be sure to check back each week for more thyroid health news!
For Further Reading
Is Hypothyroidism Slowing You Down?
The thyroid: A small gland with a big job
Feeling particularly fatigued, sluggish, and out of focus lately? Have you noticed that you’re putting on weight, even though your diet hasn’t really changed? Experiencing depression or other mental health problems? Rather than blaming garden-variety stress and strain as the likely culprits, you may need to check in with an endocrinologist -- an under-functioning thyroid could be causing these symptoms.
The thyroid is a small, butterfly-shaped endocrine gland that sits behind the diaphragm, in the lower area of the neck sometimes referred to as the “Adam’s apple.” Typically, the normal thyroid measures about two inches in length. But despite its diminutive size, thyroid dysfunction can result in serious health problems.
The thyroid is a key part of the endocrine system, which creates, distributes, and regulates hormones in the body. Because hormones play such a central role in the body’s ability to function properly and maintain optimal health, even minute changes in the working capacity of one of the endocrine glands can set off a chain of deficiencies, malfunctions, and adverse conditions that reverberate through the entire body.
What is hypothyroidism?
Like the other glands in the endocrine system, the thyroid generates chemical compounds known as hormones, including triiodothyronine and thyroxine, both of which help regulate the body’s metabolism. A person whose thyroid is not producing enough hormones to maintain stability in the metabolism is said to be suffering from hypothyroidism.
Hypothyroidism occurs when the thyroid’s secretion of triiodothyronine, thyroxine, and other hormones is inadequate. Because these chemicals’ job is to stabilize the metabolism, insufficient hormonal levels can actually cause the metabolism -- and a wide array of bodily processes -- to gradually slow down.
It is believed that nearly 10 million Americans suffer from varying degrees of hypothyroidism, the majority of them being women. Furthermore, many of those afflicted with hypothyroidism may be unaware of their disorder. Called “the great mimicker” by many physicians, hypothyroidism is difficult to diagnose, and its symptoms are often misinterpreted as signs of other illnesses and diseases.
Signs and symptoms of hypothyroidism
One of the reasons why hypothyroidism often evades diagnosis is because the symptoms associated with the condition are so wide-ranging. To further complicate the issue, the exact nature and severity of the presenting symptoms often vary from patient to patient.
Because hypothyroidism causes the metabolism to slow down, many of the symptoms associated with the condition result from a gradual decline in the rate of common bodily functions. The hallmark symptoms of hypothyroidism include: memory impairment, weight gain, general fatigue and malaise, a feeling of mental fuzziness or “brain fog,” diminished sex drive, increased sensitivity to cold, migraine headaches, slowed reflexes, skin dryness and puffiness, constipation, depression, anxiety, irritability, difficulty swallowing, shortness of breath, slowed speech, vocal hoarseness, abnormal menstrual cycles, and reproductive difficulties such as infertility.
Individuals with low thyroid functioning may present with any combination of these symptoms, depending on the exact nature and extent of their hormonal deficiency. In mild cases, few detectable symptoms may be present, making a timely and correct diagnosis unlikely.
Causes and risk factors for hypothyroidism
The endocrine system is complex and delicately calibrated, and even minor or gradual bodily changes over time can cause dysfunctions. Doctors often have difficulty discerning the precise cause of hypothyroidism in some patients because the onset of the condition may occur gradually over an extended period of time.
The most common cause of hypothyroidism is actually a disease known as Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. This disease prompts the body’s immune system to fight the thyroid gland, as it would do if it were rejecting an intruding foreign body or an invading virus. Other immune disorders and inflammatory disorders can also impede proper thyroid function.
Genetic causes and birth defects are also cited as the cause of some cases of hypothyroidism. Insufficient pituitary gland functioning can also instigate hypothyroidism. Irradiation of the neck area has also been known to produce hypothyroidism-like symptoms, as has surgical removal of the thyroid gland.
According to epidemiological studies of diagnosed cases of hypothyroidism, the chief risk factor for the condition is female gender. Other factors that may increase an individual’s risk for hypothyroidism include obesity, an age of 50+, past thyroid problems and/or thyroid surgery, and a past history of neck irradiation, through either x-rays or radiation therapy.
Treatment and prognosis for hypothyroidism
Although there is no known cure for hypothyroidism, the condition responds very well to existing treatments. Patients who adhere to the prescribed course of medication often report no discernable symptoms and no significant diminishment in their sense of health, well-being, and quality of life. However, consistency is important in maintaining a stable metabolism -- hypothyroidism patients who discontinue their thyroid medication against doctors’ orders often experience wide fluctuations in thyroid function that can have negative long-term health effects.
In many cases, fatigue, depression, weight gain, and impaired cognitive function are simply the unfortunate results of the hectic modern lifestyle. However, these symptoms could also be a sign of hypothyroidism or another related health problem. If you’ve experienced any of these problems, check with your doctor about the possibility of a thyroid screening.
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