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Understanding Thyroid Function and Thyroid Dysfunction

thyroid-gland-diagramThe thyroid is an oftentimes overlooked part of the human body, but it has an important job.  Located in your throat underneath your Adam’s apple, the thyroid essentially oversees your entire endocrine system.  It works endlessly day and night to regulate hormones, to communicate with the adrenal glands, and to help keep your system balanced.  Unfortunately, the thyroid is quite sensitive and can tire out easily– when this happens we tell a woman she has “thyroid dysfunction,” a blanket term to describe a variety of issues.  Let’s learn more.

Thyroid dysfunction shows up in a basic blood test as high/low TSH levels; optimum levels are 0.5 – 1.0.  Anything higher than that indicates a thyroid that is tiring out and not operating as well as it should.  A tired thyroid is like you when you don’t get enough sleep– you’re sluggish, can’t respond fast enough, and you find yourself working extra hard just to appear normal.  Have you ever been so tired you put your keys in the refrigerator or walked into a room and forgot why you went in?  Thyroid dysfunction is similar.  A sluggish thyroid oftentimes gets confused– it might tell your adrenal glands to release a lot of stress hormones when all that happened was you lost your sunglasses.  Or you might start experiencing hair loss, dry skin, brittle nails, memory issues, depression, fatigue, and/or cold intolerance.  This is your thyroid saying, “I’m pooped out.”

Many doctors will immediately recommend thyroid medication, and some women will need this for thyroid dysfunction.  But we have found that if we make a slight increase to a woman’s estrogen the thyroid responds well and begins to regulate more effectively.  If the blood test showed a high TSH level before, we may see that number go down into the normal range once again and an alleviation of symptoms.

Posted in Symptoms, Thyroid

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