What’s My Thyroid Have To Do With My Hormones?
What is the Thyroid?
The thyroid gland is a butterfly-shaped organ located in the base of your neck. It releases hormones that control metabolism—the way your body uses energy.
The thyroid’s hormones regulate body functions:
- Heart rate
- Central and peripheral nervous systems
- Body weight
- Muscle strength
- Menstrual cycles
- Body temperature
- Cholesterol levels
The function of the thyroid gland is to take iodine, found in many foods, and convert it into thyroid hormones: thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3).
Importance of T3 and T4
T3 and T4 travel in your bloodstream to reach almost every cell in the body. The hormones regulate the speed with which the cells/metabolism work.
Symptoms of too much T3 and T4 in your body:
- Irritability or moodiness
- Nervousness, hyperactivity
- Sweating or sensitivity to high temperatures
- Hand trembling (shaking)
- Hair loss
- Missed or light menstrual periods
Symptoms of too little T3 and T4 in your body:
- Trouble sleeping
- Tiredness and fatigue
- Difficulty concentrating
- Dry skin and hair
- Sensitivity to cold temperature
- Frequent, heavy periods
- Joint and muscle pain
If you suffer from more than one of these symptoms, you could be one of the many people with an undiagnosed thyroid condition. Although some of these symptoms may seem contradictory, all of them can be indications of a thyroid imbalance.
At any given time in the United States, more than 30 million people suffer from a thyroid disorder, more than 10 million women have a low-grade thyroid imbalance, and nearly 10 million people with thyroid imbalance remain undiagnosed. Some 500,000 new cases of thyroid imbalance occur each year. All of these people are vulnerable to mental and emotional effects for a long time even after being diagnosed.
Blood Test to Diagnose:
Blood tests to measure TSH, T4, T3 and Free T4 are readily available and widely used. Tests to evaluate thyroid function include the following:
The best way to initially test thyroid function is to measure the TSH level in a blood sample. A high TSH level indicates that the thyroid gland is failing because of a problem that is directly affecting the thyroid (primary hypothyroidism). The opposite situation, in which the TSH level is low, usually indicates that the person has an overactive thyroid that is producing too much thyroid hormone (hyperthyroidism). Occasionally, a low TSH may result from an abnormality in the pituitary gland, which prevents it from making enough TSH to stimulate the thyroid (secondary hypothyroidism). In most healthy individuals, a normal TSH value means that the thyroid is functioning normally.
T4 circulates in the blood in two forms:
1) T4 bound to proteins that prevent the T4 from entering the various tissues that need thyroid hormone.
2) Free T4, which does enter the various target tissues to exert its effects. The free T4 fraction is the most important to determine how the thyroid is functioning, and tests to measure this is called the Free T4 (FT4) and the Free T4 Index (FT4I or FTI).
Combining the TSH test with the FT4 or FTI accurately determines how the thyroid gland is functioning.
T3 tests are often used to diagnosis hyperthyroidism or to determine the severity of the hyperthyroidism. Patients who are hyperthyroid will have an elevated T3 level.
Concerned about your thyroid? Contact AgeWellMD for a comprehensive blood test and consult to review the results.