January is Thyroid Awareness Month

January is Thyroid Awareness Month

We all have the occasional lapse in memory, a period of lethargy, or weight gain. However, those living with an underactive thyroid can have these symptoms and more, to a degree that significantly impacts daily life. A healthy thyroid affects all the systems of the body. It’s easy to take it for granted when it’s functioning properly. An underperforming thyroid can lead to fatigue, weight loss, dry skin, brittle hair, constipation, aches in muscles and joints, menstrual cycle changes, and more.

The thyroid gland is located at the front of the throat below the larynx. It extracts iodine that has entered the bloodstream from the food we eat and uses it in the production of thyroid hormone. Thyroid hormone is then released into the bloodstream upon receiving the correct hormone signal from the pituitary gland. The thyroid hormone then travels through the bloodstream in the right amounts for the organs that rely on it for their metabolic function.

This system of communication is what causes the wide array of possible symptoms in the body. When organs don’t receive the thyroid hormone necessary for metabolism, they become less active. This can result in a slower heart rate, constipation due to the muscles in the digestive tract being less active, even an increased sensitivity to medications as the metabolic processes are disrupted.

When testing for hypothyroidism, your physician will check the level of thyroid stimulating hormone present in the blood, as an increased level of that hormone indicates a decreased function of the thyroid gland. If the test indicates possible hypothyroidism, your doctor will discuss ongoing treatment, and possibly refer you to an endocrinologist who specializes in the body’s glandular systems.

The good news is that hypothyroidism is treatable. Your doctor can prescribe a daily medication that will simulate the function of naturally produced thyroid hormone. As the body’s hormone levels stabilize, the symptoms of hypothyroidism will recede, and the patient can be restored to a state of optimal health.

This article is sponsored by Trinity Medical Group. BIO: Tiffany Garner, ARNP, is a Family Nurse Practitioner currently seeing patients at the Trinity Medical Group Winter Haven location. To schedule an appointment with Tiffany or any of the Trinity Medical Group providers, call (863) 614-1356 or visit TrinityMedGroup.com.

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