The human body uses hormones to regulate every bodily function, from when you sleep to your reproductive systems. If you’re like most people, you assume your hormones are getting the job done. Unless you experience the side effects of an imbalance, you probably won’t ever notice the critical role hormones play in your daily life. But when there’s a problem with your thyroid, it can have a serious impact on your quality of life.
At Integrative Medica, our providers specialize in helping patients in Salt Lake City, Utah, manage their health and wellness using an integrated, holistic approach to medicine. When it comes to an imbalanced thyroid, our team is dedicated to helping you restore function rather than simply masking your symptoms.
Here’s a look at what happens to your body when your thyroid is imbalanced.
What is the thyroid and how does it function?
Low on your neck along the front of your windpipe, you have a small gland called the thyroid. Even though this gland is tiny, however, it plays a big role in regulating your health.
Your thyroid is part of the endocrine system, which is a system of glands located throughout your body. Together, these glands make the hormones that regulate almost every function in your body.
Each gland in the system has different responsibilities, and the thyroid’s biggest job is to regulate and control your body’s metabolism. For your thyroid to work properly, its cells need to take in and use iodine. This means your diet needs to be rich in foods that supply iodine, such as iodized salt, prunes, egg yolks, lima beans, fish, iodine-fortified foods, and different seaweeds.
What happens when my thyroid isn’t balanced?
When your thyroid is out of balance, it can produce either too much or too little of the different hormones it makes. In either case, your body doesn’t receive the hormones it needs to function well.
We call the group of health conditions that result from an imbalance “thyroid disease.” The type and severity of your thyroid condition, the conditions it creates, and the way it affects your body can vary depending on the exact nature of your thyroid disease.
Here are some of the most common types of thyroid disease.
Overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism)
When your thyroid is overactive, it overproduces thyroid hormones, known as hyperthyroidism. One autoimmune disorder called Graves’ disease is the most common cause of hyperthyroidism. Inflammation of the thyroid can also cause hyperthyroidism.
Untreated, hyperthyroidism can cause significant health problems with your bones, muscles, and heart. For women, it can also affect your menstrual cycle, fertility, and cause complications during pregnancy.
Symptoms of an overactive thyroid include:
- Racing heart
- Trouble sleeping
- Unexplained weight loss
- Thinning hair
- Fragile skin
Underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism)
Hypothyroidism, or underactive thyroid, results when your thyroid doesn’t produce enough hormones. The leading cause of hypothyroidism in the United States is an autoimmune condition called Hashimoto’s disease. With Hashimoto’s, your immune system attacks your thyroid gland.
When you have an underactive thyroid, your body functions slow. Symptoms of hypothyroidism typically appear gradually and progress slowly. At first, you might simply feel more tired than normal. As the imbalance progresses, additional symptoms appear, including:
- Slow heart rate
- Weight gain or trouble losing weight
- Muscle aches
- Thinning hair
- Dry skin
- Heavy menstrual cycles
- Underactive sweat glands
Hypothyroidism can lead to elevated cholesterol, increasing your risk of heart disease. It can also cause decreased mental and cognitive function, making everyday tasks difficult.
Other thyroid conditions
While hyper- and hypothyroidism are the most common forms of thyroid disease, other conditions can impact whether your thyroid is in balance. For example, thyroid nodules, goiter (thyroid swelling), and thyroid cancer can all affect the health of this important gland.
At Integrative Medica, you receive a physical exam and blood test to check the levels of your thyroid hormones. You may need additional tests, such as a biopsy, or imaging to confirm a diagnosis.
Is there help for thyroid imbalance?
Using our holistic approach to health care, we treat your imbalanced thyroid as a part of your entire body rather than an isolated concern. Our team works to understand the root cause of the imbalance to ensure you receive the best care.
At Integrative Medica, we recommend a course of treatment that alleviates symptoms while improving the health of your thyroid. Depending on your symptoms, test results, and health history, your provider may recommend supplements, a healthy eating plan, medications, and lifestyle changes.
If you’re experiencing any of the signs or symptoms of an imbalanced thyroid, the caring team at Integrative Medica can help. Call our office in Salt Lake City today at 801-406-1939 to schedule an appointment or book online today! You can also send a message to the team here on our website.