Understanding Simple (But Important) Things Of Thyroid Function
What is a Thyroid?
The thyroid gland is a butterfly-shaped organ located at the base of the neck. While it is a relatively small organ, It is one of the most underdiagnosed ailments.
The thyroid gland plays a significant part in the endocrine system as it influences the heart, brain, liver, kidneys, and skin. On top of it, the thyroid can affect your metabolism, calcium, cholesterol, body temperature, and fat production.
A hormone imbalance causes thyroid issues. Hypothyroidism is where there is not enough thyroid hormone, and hyperthyroidism is where there is too much thyroid hormone is produced.
What are other disorders that can affect my thyroid?
- An abnormal enlargement of the thyroid (goiter) can be a symptom of various diseases such as iodine deficiency, pregnancy, thyroid cancer, inflammation, or autoimmune conditions such as Hashimoto’s or Graves’ Diseases.
- Hashimoto’s Disease occurs when the immune system attacks the thyroid gland and leads to inflammation. The inflammation is referred to as chronic lymphocytic thyroiditis, or better known as hypothyroidism.
- Graves’ Disease causes your immune system to produce too much thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH). In some cases, Graves’ disease can cause bulging eyes or reddening and thickening of the skin.
How do I check my thyroid?
The primary form of testing is a thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) blood test. This is because the amount of TSH in the bloodstream may serve as an early warning if your thyroid gland is over and underproduces thyroid hormone.
- Thyroxine (T4) blood tests are an essential thyroid hormone that contains four iodine atoms and how iodine deficiency affects thyroid function.
- Triiodothyronine (T3) blood tests indicate the severity of the thyroid disorder.
- Thyroid antibody blood tests are used if the problem is related to an autoimmune disorder such as Hashimoto’s or graves disease
- Thyroglobulin (Tg) blood tests do not test for thyroid function or cancer. It is used to monitor a patient after surgery for thyroid cancer
- Radioactive Iodine Uptake (RAIU) tests can determine the activity of your thyroid by tracking the iodine levels. It is primarily used to detect thyroid cancer.
How do I test for thyroid disorder?
Treatment for thyroid disorder uses a synthetic thyroid hormone, levothyroxine. The treatment is typically lifelong and can fluctuate over time. It is recommended to have your TSH levels checked every 4-5 months in order to keep your thyroid on track.