Over 20 million Americans are currently diagnosed with some form of thyroid disease, a health problem that impacts every cell in the body and can cause severe weight gain or weight loss, mood disturbances, and even infertility in both men and women. While thyroid problems are most common in women, affecting approximately 1 in 8 women between the ages of 35 and 65, men are not immune to thyroid disorders. Common symptoms in men, such as reduced libido, difficulty achieving erection and breast tenderness or enlargement, may be too embarrassing for men to seek medical help and could contribute to the lower instances of thyroid disease recorded in men.
When the thyroid gland becomes overactive, releasing more hormones than are necessary, the result is hyperthyroidism or Graves Disease, autoimmune diseases that cause over-activity of the thyroid gland. Hyperthyroidism is most common between the ages of 20 and 40 and effects roughly 1 million Americans today. With hyperthyroidism, everything in the body speeds up. When the rate of cellular activity increases, more calories must be consumed to maintain normal energy levels. If the incoming calories fail to be enough then weight loss will occur. Generally, the more sever the hyperthyroid, the more weight loss will result. It is not uncommon; however, for a person with hyperthyroid to gain weight if more calories than necessary are being consumed.
Hypothyroidism is a far more common problem, affecting approximately 11 million Americans. The disease can affect both men and women but is mostly diagnosed in middle-aged women. In a patient with Hypothyroidism, the entire metabolism moves at a slower speed and requires less calories than usual to maintain normal energy levels. As a result, the excess calories consumed become stored as fat and weight gain ensues.
Diagnosing Thyroid Problems
Diseases of the thyroid can be diagnose with a simple blood test which evaluates levels of TSH, free T3 and T4 in the bloodstream. Another way to measure is by taking and recording the basal body temperature under the arm as soon as you wake up for ten minutes, five mornings in a row. The normal axillary temperature is 97.8°F - 98.2°F. If the temperature averages 97.4°F or less, see your physician.
Once a diagnosis of either hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism has been ascertained, treatment is aimed at restoring proper levels of thyroid hormones. With hyperthyroidism this might require surgery or the use of medication. Hypothyroidism is usually treated with hormone replacement therapy. In my practice I have found that natural thyroid hormone can be a safe and very successful means of restoring the appropriate levels. For both diseases, restoring proper levels of the thyroid hormone can result in a reversal of symptoms, including a return to pre-thyroid disease weight.
If you suspect that you might be suffering from a thyroid disorder, see your doctor immediately for an evaluation. Thyroid disease is a serious health problem and one that can be easily treated and properly diagnosed.
Learn More About Diagnosing Thyroid Problems
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