I Just Don’t Feel Right. Could it be my Thyroid?
July 2022 Issue — Pink Prescriptions
I Just Don’t Feel Right. Could it be my Thyroid?
You may not be able to point to your thyroid, but it controls many activities in your body, including how fast you burn calories and how fast your heart beats—pretty important things. However, the thyroid seems to be a mystery gland that is not thought about until it begins to wreak havoc. Basically, when your thyroid is functioning properly, things we take for granted, like a good night’s sleep, regular bowel movements, controlled inner temps—not inappropriately hot or cold, are also functioning properly. Because an out-of-order thyroid can cause symptoms that are quite common, usually the thyroid is the last thing we look to as the culprit for our dis-ease and discomfort. That’s why we wanted to unlock the mystery behind this little gland in your neck that can make feeling good a real pain-in-the-neck! In order to learn more about the almighty thyroid, we asked our local expert to clue us in.
What does a thyroid do?
The thyroid gland is an endocrine gland located in the front of the neck that produces thyroid hormones, which are secreted into the circulation then carried to every organ in the body.Thyroid hormones are critical in brain and neurological development in infants and of metabolic activity in adults. Metabolism is the process by which the body converts our food intake into energy.
What diseases are associated with thyroid problems?
Functional thyroid disease: hypothyroidism (Underactive), hyperthyroidism (overactive) and thyroiditis.
Structural thyroid disease: goiter, diffuse goiter, multinodular goiter, lingual thyroid and thyroglossal duct cyst.
Thyroid tumors: adenoma, cancer, lymphoma and metastasis.
What are the differences between hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism and what are the symptoms I should look for?
When the thyroid gland is not working properly it will affect the body. Hyperthyroidism means an increase (or overactive) of thyroid hormone production by the gland. Patients who have hyperthyroid may experience symptoms such as heat intolerance, increased sweating, weight loss (with increased appetite), anxiety, irritability, palpitations, menstrual irregularities, increased stool frequency, fatigue and weakness. Hypothyroidism means inadequate—or underactive—production or action of the thyroid hormone and presents with different symptoms that include cold intolerance, fatigue, modest weight gain, dry skin, hair loss, constipation, menstrual irregularities and hoarseness.
Why is it so important to not eat or drink anything
(except water) with my thyroid medication?
Food in the stomach can affect the absorption of thyroid hormone medication. Therefore, to ensure the effectiveness of the medication, patients should administer their thyroid medication consistently in the morning on an empty stomach, at least 30 to 60 minutes before eating or drinking. If this seems too difficult, an alternative is consistently administering the medication at night 3 to 4 hours after the last meal. In addition, thyroid medications should not be taken within four hours of calcium- or iron-containing products or bile acid sequestrants.
Are there any thyroid conditions that could
lead to or increase my risks for cancer?
When discussing the topic of thyroid cancer, it’s important to understand there is a difference between thyroid function and actual thyroid cancer. If you feel your thyroid is enlarged, you should seek immediate medical advice from your physician and have an examination and further testing if necessary.
In addition, you should be aware of these Thyroid cancer risk factors:
• Female gender.
• Age (40-50s for woman, 60-70s male).
• Family history of thyroid cancer.
• Low-iodine diet.
• Radiation exposure, including medical treatment (head and neck treatment) and radiation fallout from power plant accidents or nuclear weapons.
• Genetic syndromes: Cowden’s disease, familial adenomatous polyposis, Carney’s complex and Werner’s syndrome.
• As with any cancer, early detection is the key.
Natalia Vanessa Chaar Tirado, M.D. earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of Puerto Rico, Mayaguez, Puerto Rico, followed by her medical degree from Universidad Iberoamericana School of Medicine in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. She completed her residency at Hospital Damas in Ponce, Puerto Rico, and an endocrinology fellowship at Texas Tech University Health Sciences at the Permian Basin in Odessa, Texas. Treating patients with diabetes and thyroid conditions accounts for the majority of Chaar Tirado’s practice, but she also has a special interest in calcium and bone metabolism issues, such as vitamin deficiencies and osteoporosis, as well as hormonal issues. She sees patients at Southeast Georgia Physician Associates-Endocrinology & Diabetes, 3025 Shrine Road, Suite 150 in Brunswick.