Hypothyroidism vs Hyperthyroidism : Part I

I have had several of you ask tons of questions about the hypothyroidism that I mentioned in my last blog, and that is awesome!  Many of you have said you experienced a lot of the same things that I did and were kind of curious if you may be having the same problem.  While I am NOT a doctor in any way shape or form, I can at least give you some info about what my doctor told me and some interesting info that I dug up while doing some MAJOR research on this condition.

A few had asked about “hyperthyroidism” and if that is what I meant to say I had.  That falls on the negative side for me.  I thought for those of you that may not know the difference that I would do a two part blog about some helpful info to tell the difference and how each one affects you.

Hypothyroidism, often referred to as an underactive thyroid, is a condition in which the thyroid gland does not make enough of a hormone called thyroxine and can cause widespread consequences for the body. Thyroxine, or T4, is one of the two major hormones that is secreted by the thyroid gland which helps regulate growth and control the rate of chemical reactions (metabolism) in your body. Just my luck, I fell into this category.

Symptoms of hypothyroidism are not always specific (which means they can mimic the symptoms of many other conditions).  Some of the symptoms you may encounter are :

  • Pale, dry or yellow skin
  • Hair loss, which could include the eyebrows
  • Brittle nails
  • A hoarse or raspy voice
  • Heavy or irregular menstrual cycles
  • Swollen ankles, face, legs or feet
  • Aches, weakness, stiffness or tenderness of joints and muscles
  • Modest weight gain
  • Constipation
  • Slower speech or movement
  • Excessive sleepiness
  • Cold intollerance
  • Fatigue
  • Impaired memory
  • Depression
  • Slower thinking
  • Infertility
  • Slower heart rate
  • Changes in cholesterol levels
  • Sluggishes reflexes
  • Irritability and mood instability

Hypothyroidism is a very common condition. It is estimated that 3% to 5% of the population has some form of hypothyroidism so you are not alone out there!!  There are many things that can cause this condition.  Here are some of the most common.

Stress is a biggie!  When you are under a lot of stress certain hormones are released into your body like cortisol, also known as hydrocortisone or “the stress hormone”.  This is prodcued by the cortex of the adrenal glands and is released in response to stress.  It is responsible for your immune fuction, the regulation of your blood pressure, and insuline release.

High and more prolonged levels of cortisol in the bloodstream can have many negative side effects to you and your body.  Supressed thyroid function is one of the bad effects that can occur followed by high blood pressure, increased abdominal fat, lower immunity, slow healing of cuts and wounds, decreased bone density and muscle tissue and elevated blood glucose.

I know that in this world it is next to impossible to always be stress free.  However, simple things such as yoga, meditation and exercise can all help.  When I get beyond stressed I always crank up my mp3 player and listen to some happy, catchy techno and dance music.  Needless to say, Lady Gaga is a fave!  This along with a nice bike ride or run is great!!

Genetics is another guilty factor, which I found out after I was diagnosed.  If an aunt, mother, father, cousin or anyone in your family has had an issue with their thyroid you may want to have your hormone levels tested to make sure they are not too low.  Do remember though, just because someone close to you in your family may have this, it does not mean that you will.  In my case neither of my parents have hypothyroidism, but a few close relatives did.  I have attatched the pic to help explain.

Paying close attention to your diet and addressing underlying emotional issues can also help you head this off at the pass.

It has been said that women have ten times the chance of developing hypothyroidism than men, usually occuring after the age of 35.  One in 5,000 people actually have this diagnosis, but it is often overlooked due to the similar symptoms with so many other health problems and diseases.

Poor nutrition is next in line.  I have read on numerous articles that people who develope this condition often suffer from iodine deficiences.  Approximately 80% of iodine found within the body is within the thyroid.  Iodine helps the body efficiently burn calories and maintain the energy level in the body.  It also plays a large role in destroying toxins in the body.  Deficiency of iodine can negatively affect your body as well as your mind.  Anxiety, feelings of frustration, depression even ranging to mental retardation.  The World Health Organization was noted to say that iodine deficiency is among the leading causes of mental retardation worldwide.

The daily requirement of iodine for an adult is 150 micrograms.  Nursing mothers and pregnant women need 175 – 200 micrograms.  A quarter of a teaspoon measures to approximately 95 micrograms.  Now I am not saying pour yourself some iodized salt into a spoon and eat it!  It is found in many foods.  For a healthier alternative, an iodine enriched herb salt is an option.  Shellfish, kelp, mushrooms, garlic, onions, seaweed, tuna, sardines, salmon, milk, turnip greens, lettuce, green peppers, eggs and cheese are just some of the foods that you can consume to reach your daily requirement.

Do remember however that an over consumption of iodine can become toxic and just as damaging as the deficiency!

Iron deficiency is another problem you could have.  Iron is used to help our red blood cells deliver oxygen to the rest of the body.  With low iron levels one can develope the advanced level of iron deficiency, iron deficiency anemia.  This can lead to unusual obssessive food cravings, fatigue, hairloss, lightheadedness and trouble breathing.

The U.S. Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) of iron for men is 10 milligrams for men and 15 milligrams for women.  For every 10 to 20mg of iron that is ingested, only 1mg is absorbed.  Foods that are rich in iron are clams, chicken and pork liver, turkey, oysters, shrimp, sardines, lentils, pumpkin seeds, egg yolks, dark leafy greens, prunes, raisins, artichokes and tofu are all iron rich foods.  To better help your body absorb iron you could also eat oranges, cantaloupe, tomatoes and strawberries.

Please note that I did read that pregnant women should not eat liver because of its very high Vitamin A content and that large amounts of Vitamin A can be harmful to the baby.

Now onto vitamin A deficiency!  Vitamin A is an essential nutrient that the body needs to operate; used in the body for vision, immunity, bone and tissue growth and maintenance.  It is also used in our bodies as an antioxidant.  Lack of vitamin A can cause night blindness and can diminish the ability of the body to fight infections.  Other symptoms are dry eyes, rough or dry skin and urinary infections.

The recommended daily intake for women is 800mcg and for men 1000mcg.  Foods that will help you obtain your vitamin A are spinach, carrots, sweet potatoes, eggs, mango, papaya, milk, kale, red bell peppers, whole milk cheese and yogurt, oatmeal, apricots and cantaloupe.

As with anything else vitamin A can also be toxic!  Too much vitamin A can cause osteoporosis, liver problems, blurred vision and nausea. Orange palms and bottoms of the feet are also possible.  Excessive vitamin A during pregnancy may increase the risk of birth defects.

Did you also know that iron deficiency can actually affect your vitamin A intake?!  Crazy how these go hand in hand.

Next up, magneisum deficiency.  Magnesium is one of the five essential minerals needed by the body to continue good health.  It also helps with body processes such as blood pressure levels, metabolism, blood sugar levels and muscle and nerve health.  Symptoms of a deficiency could include back pain, muscle cramps, tension headaches, neck pain and muscle soreness.

The daily recommended amount for women is 310 – 320 mg and 400 – 420 mg for men.  Foods that you can consume to help you reach your amount are broccoli, peanuts, okra, spinach, tofu, oysters, pumpkin and squash.  Too much magnesium can cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, upset stomach, slowed heart rate, deficiencies of other minerals and even confusion.

There are a few foods that can unfortunately contribute to the suppression of the thyroid. Peaches, pears, cabbage, kale, peanuts, broccoli, radishes and soy products can all work against you.  I am not saying to stop eating these because God knows I wold go nuts if I could not have my broccoli!!  Just enjoy them in moderation.

Pregnancy can also be a major factor. It affects the thyroid in numerous ways and poses a high risk for hypothyroidism both during pregnancy and afterward. The biggest reason being the iodine requirements are high in both the mother and the fetus.  All ladies that are expecting also know that your hormones are going crazy right now which in turn changes the thyroid hormone levels.

Some women develop antibodies to their own thyroid during pregnancy which can cause a condition known as postpartum autoimmune thyroid syndrome. This occurs in up to 10% of pregnant women and tends to develop between four and twelve months after delivery.

It is estimated that 2.5% of all pregnant women have some degree of hypothyroidism.  A woman has a 25% higher risk for developing hypothyroidism after pregnancy if she has diabetes or another autoimmune disorder.

Menopause is another hormonal change that can cause hypothyroidism.  Ladies please take note of this : because the symptoms of hypothyroidism and menopause are similar, hypothyroidism may easily be missed!!!  A few shared symptoms are depressed mood, hot flashes, irritability, decreased energy, insomnia and decreased memory.

Nearly 6% of women over 60 will develope this condition.  In the United States, more than 20% of the women in menopause are diagnosed with hypothyroidism.

Prescription medications can also impair thyroid function.  Lithium, inhalers, propranolol, amiodarone and somatostain are just some of the drugs that can disrupt your thyroid hormone balance.

Environmental toxins such as pesticides, metals and antibiotics in our food, air and water can also affect the thryoid.

Hope this helps some of you out there!!  I know that it opened my eyes to a lot of new things and things that I wish I had known earlier.  I could have written soooo much more, but I think I will bring it to a close here.
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