What is the Thyroid Gland?
The thyroid gland is shaped like a butterfly and is positioned in the lower section of your neck. Despite its small size it plays a major role and is responsible for controlling a vast number of functions within the body.
Thyroid disorders can affect both men and women. There are however more women than men that suffer from hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid).
There are a number of symptoms that are generally associated with hypothyroidism. These include feelings of fatigue and lethargy, constipation, dry skin and weight gain.
Hypothyroidism can however be the root cause of other symptoms that you might not automatically associate with an underactive thyroid.
Under active thyroid sufferers have a slower metabolism than normal. This can result in lower levels of serotonin being produced. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter and is generally thought to be the chemical that is responsible for maintaining an individuals moods.
The result is that the individual can begin to become lethargic and feel fatigued. They will then very often feel less motivated and their attention span will be reduced. It is also quite common for the body temperature to drop.
Ultimately the individual will become depressed.
Whilst anyone suffering from an underactive thyroid will quite commonly suffer from constipation there are other, less publicised, conditions that can also occur.
Hypothyroidism can also cause conditions such as heartburn, feelings of nausea and vomiting. The patient can also suffer from gastritis and can become visibly bloated.
Many people do not realize that an under active thyroid can cause heart problems.
High cholesterol can be the result of a thyroid disorder. Hypothyroidism sufferers may also get heartburn and find that their heart muscles become enlarged (a condition known as cardiomyopathy). In extreme cases hypothyroidism can even result in heart failure.
Hypothyroidism can affect the menstrual cycle
The operation of the thyroid has a direct affect on a large number of the body's functions, including the ovaries.
This can have the effect of changing the menstrual cycle. In some cases the cycle may skip one or two months or can even cease completely. The flow of the cycle can also become eratic.
Thyroid issues can not only cause problems with the menstrual cycle they can also affect an individuals ability to conceive. There is also a possibility of an increased chance of miscarrying and fetal death.
In men hypothyroidism can result in less testosterone being produced which has the effect of lowering the individuals sperm count.
Please remember that there can be other causes for any of the conditions described above. If you are suffering from any of these it does not automatically mean that you have a thyroid disorder.
You should however consult with your medical practitioner to find the cause and undergo the necessary treatment.