January is National Thyroid Awareness Month! Thyroid disease affects an estimated twenty million Americans, with up to 60 percent not even knowing that they have it.1 It is hard to tell if you are just trying to manage the stressed, overworked, sleep-deprived parts of everyday life, or if there is something more to it. It is easier to just ignore what seems like non-threatening symptoms, but what could be hiding is a thyroid disease.
The thyroid is a gland that is located on the lower part of the neck, right under the Adam’s apple. The thyroid’s job is to secrete hormones. Thyroid hormones help with metabolism, regulating body temperature, and assists in growth and development. During the early stages of life, the thyroid hormone is essential for brain development.2 The most common risk factors are being female, over the age of 40, having diabetes, and family history of thyroid disease.3 There are many different types of thyroid dysfunction. Below are the most common thyroid diagnoses:
Overview: hypothyroidism is considered an “underactive” thyroid, meaning it does not produce enough thyroid hormone. The most common reason that this occurs is thyroiditis, which is the inflammation of the thyroid. Hashimotos, an autoimmune disorder that produces antibodies with the intention of destroying the thyroid, is the most common cause of hypothyroidism.4
Symptoms: The most common symptoms are fatigue, dull and thinning hair, and eyebrows, weight gain, constipation, joint inflammation, and muscle cramps.5
Treatment: This is treated by introducing a medication of the thyroid hormone levothyroxine. By trial and error, your doctor will find the correct dose to regulate your hormone levels. Symptoms of hypothyroidism will likely go away immediately but taking the medication will be lifelong.6 Exercise is often prescribed as well to help manage weight gain. If joint inflammation is a symptom, doing a low-impact aerobic exercise such as water aerobics, walking or yoga may be recommended. Resistance training to build muscle has also been found to be beneficial to increase your metabolic rate, as well as ease pressure on the joints.7
Overview: Hyperthyroidism is when your thyroid is producing too much of the hormone thyroxine, shown through blood tests. It often accelerates your metabolism, which may cause rapid weight loss or irregular heart rate. Graves disease is an immune disorder that is often associated with hyperthyroidism and has nearly all the same symptoms.7
Symptoms: Weight loss despite regular eating and appetite, arrhythmia, anxiety, nervousness, sweating, tremor, and difficulty sleeping.8
Treatment: One way of attacking this is through a radioactive iodine tablet, which is taken orally and causes the thyroid gland to shrink. Anti-thyroid medications will slowly reduce the symptoms but is usually the most effective solution. Relaxation techniques to alleviate stress and anxiety and regular exercise to maintain bone density, manage appetite and increase your energy level can help with treating and managing both Graves disease and hyperthyroidism.9
Overview: Goiter is the unusual enlargement of the thyroid gland. It is caused by either the overproduction or underproduction of thyroid hormones. Goiter is generally painless, and therefore, overlooked. Iodine deficiency is the most common cause of Goiter. It is often seen as a result of both hypo- and hyperthyroidism, Graves disease, or Hashimoto’s disease.10
Symptoms: Coughing, trouble swallowing or breathing, a tightening feeling in the throat, and commonly swelling around the base of the neck.10
Treatment: Consuming iodine will cause the thyroid to shrink and decrease the symptoms, although it may take time to see immediate improvement. A dietitian may recommend consuming more foods that contain iodine such as eggs, soy milk, yogurt, cheese, iodized table salt, or a multivitamin containing iodine.11 Taking the anti-thyroid medications may also be prescribed.10 In summary, thyroid conditions are common and often untreated and ignored. While one of the main treatments for thyroid dysfunction is medication, it is often prescribed along with adjustment of your nutrition and exercise regimen. For assistance in correcting either of these, visit our website to meet with one of our professionals! We would love to help guide you to be a happier, healthier, and more energized version of yourself!
Starting from when she was a little girl, Hillary’s passion has always been in living a healthy way of life through movement and eating right. She played many sports when growing up but ended up sticking with volleyball and softball through college at Concordia College in Moorhead. While at Concordia, she earned a double major in exercise science and nutrition, graduating in 2015. After moving to the cities from my long-time home in the Fargo area, she was not quite sure what her passion was until she started working as a personal trainer. She learned from brilliant personal trainers and physical therapists, which led to her discovery of corrective exercise being her passion. She has decided to finish up the classes needed to apply for physical therapy school, which she plans on doing soon! She is excited to be at Live Your Life Physical Therapy to learn as much as she can from Dr. Norman and all the physical therapist on staff!
1 “General Information/Press Room.” American Thyroid Association, http://www.thyroid.org/media-main/press-room/#:~:text=An%20estimated%2020%20million%20Americans,thyroid%20disorder%20during%20her%20lifetime.
2 Hoffman, Matthew. “The Thyroid (Human Anatomy): Picture, Function, Definition, Location in the Body, and More.” WebMD, WebMD, 18 May 2019, https://www.webmd.com/women/picture-of-the-thyroid#1.
3 “Thyroid Disease: Causes, Symptoms, Risk Factors, Testing & Treatment.” Cleveland Clinic, https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/8541-thyroid-disease.
4Pathak, Neha. “Hypothyroidism (Underactive Thyroid): Symptoms, Causes, Tests, Treatments.” WebMD, WebMD, 26 Aug. 2020, https://www.webmd.com/women/hypothyroidism-underactive-thyroid-symptoms-causes-treatments#1.
5 “Hypothyroidism.” Johns Hopkins Medicine, https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/hypothyroidism.
6 “Hypothyroidism (Underactive Thyroid).” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 19 Nov. 2020, https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/hypothyroidism/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20350289.
7 Liao, Sharon. “The Best Workouts for Hypothyroidism.” WebMD, WebMD, 1 Dec. 2017, https://www.webmd.com/women/features/exercises-underactive-thyroid#1.
8 “Hyperthyroidism (Overactive Thyroid).” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 14 Nov. 2020, https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/hyperthyroidism/symptoms-causes/syc-20373659#:~:text=Hyperthyroidism%20(overactive%20thyroid)%20occurs%20when,treatments%20are%20available%20for%20hyperthyroidism.
9 “Graves’ Disease.” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 5 Dec. 2020, https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/graves-disease/symptoms-causes/syc-20356240.
10 “Goiter.” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 27 Nov. 2019, https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/goiter/symptoms-causes/syc-20351829.
11 “Iodine Deficiency.” American Thyroid Association, http://www.thyroid.org/iodine-deficiency/.