Endocrinologists around the world in the past two decades put thyroid problems in top health problems and for that, there are a couple of reasons. Faster thyroid work is called Hyperthyroidism and slower thyroid work is called Hypothyroidism. The rise of the problem in the world regarding the thyroid is mostly due to better diagnosis in recent years.

Due to better diagnosis now we know that women are 5 to 8 times more common to have thyroid problems than men and also that from two conditions that thyroid problems can occur, Hyperthyroidism is more worrisome due to the symptoms being much more problematic than when the thyroid is working at the slower pace.

A lot of studies show that stress is one of the most common triggers in disrupting the normal work of thyroid glands. Stress affects the whole body and that also affects thyroid glands and in most cases by making it work faster and producing more hormones. It can happen that it slows the production of thyroid hormones and with that pretty much slows down the whole body. People then often feel tired and without energy and they feel like they are driving on reserve.

Bright spots, in that case, are American and dutch studies. American study was done on 2200 women and published in Cancer magazine shows that women with Hypothyroidism or slower thyroid have a lower risk for breast cancer, and if they get breast cancer is less aggressive than with women who have their thyroid working fine. Dutch scientists from Leiden University Medical center made a study on 859 people from 421 families and came to the conclusion that slower thyroid actually increases the chance for a longer life span. They published their study in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism.

Contrary to that, thyroid glands that produce hormones faster are increasing the risk of health problems. To be concrete, a study from the Journal of the American Heart Association done on almost 30 000 younger people says that Hyperthyroidism increases the risk of a stroke by 44%.

The most concern with thyroid glands is the maligne problems, even though today it is very easy to diagnose and in most cases, it is successfully treated. In recent years, thyroid health problems are affecting younger people but that is mostly due to the fact that more people today are checking their health so any thyroid problems are detected very early. Health institutions in Europe and the USA are advising all women to do preventive thyroid checks at age 35.

What is important to know how the thyroid works

In medicine thyroid is known as a gland with internal secretion because it creates hormones and sends them to the bloodstream and directly affects many aspects of our health like appearance, mood, feeling, etc. It is located in the lower part of the neck just under Adam’s apple and it’s made of two lobes, one on the left side and the other on the right side, which make the thyroid look like a butterfly. Each lobe is about 2.5 cm (1 in) wide and about 4 cm (1.5 in) long, and on the top and bottom are tiny parathyroid glands.

Thyroid together with the parathyroid glands makes four hormones and proper function of the glands is regulated by the pituitary gland also known as hypophysis located at the base of the brain. The pituitary gland is secreting the thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) which makes the thyroid produce its own hormones.

Important thyroid letters and numbers

Parathyroid glands secrete hormone PTH, while thyroid glands secrete triiodothyronine – T3 and thyroxine – T4, and in some part reversible triiodothyronine – rT3. Most of the T3 and T4 hormones in circulation are connected to a specific protein and only 1% are free hormones known as fT3 and fT4.

The fastest way to detect thyroid problems is with hormone blood tests. Hypothyroidism is detected by lower values of T3 and T4 hormones and higher values of TSH hormone. The pituitary gland is increasing the secretion of its own hormone to make thyroid glands to increase the production of T3 and T4. On the other hand, Hyperthyroidism is detected when the values of T3 and T4 are high, but the TSH is lower because the Pituitary gland is trying to slow the production of thyroid hormones.

PTH – is regulating the amount of calcium in the body, slows down the activity of bone cells that lowers the bone density, and regulates the absorption of calcium in the intestines and kidneys. This hormone protects the health of the bones and lowers the risk of kidney stones.

T3 and T4 – they maintain the body’s metabolism, increase synthesis and degradation of proteins, improves fat and carbohydrates breakdown, and affects the growth, development, and functioning of the whole body. They stimulate the creation of the growth hormone, increases the heart rate, improves bone growth, influences the development of the nerve system, helps in the functioning of the sexual system, affect our behavior, sense of hearing, touch, and hunger. Also affects the look of the skin, hair, and nails.

fT3 and fT4 – are free hormones that easily penetrate the cellular membrane and support cellular metabolism. 

rT3 – is like a messenger that informs the Pituitary gland to stop production of TSH because the thyroid produced enough of its own hormones.

While PTH is only made out of amino acids, T3 and T4 hormones also have iodine. That is why the regular use of iodized salt is good for your thyroid glands to function normally.

 

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