Is your thyroid healthy?

The thyroid looks like a bow-tie you wear on the inside of your body.

The thyroid is a gland that sits at the front of the neck, quietly going about its business of producing thyroid hormone, which mostly regulates metabolism. Thyroid disease tends not make as dramatic a subject as, say, that of the heart or lungs, but it is as important as any other body part in maintaining well-being. We asked Brigham and Women’s Hospital endocrinologist Dr. Erik Alexander to fill us in on this tiny little powerhouse.

What are the signs that something might be wrong with your thyroid gland?
Symptoms for hyperthyroidism, which is the overactive thyroid condition, include being warmer, tremors and heart palpitations. With hypothyroidism, which is an underactive gland, usually the body is colder; you have feelings of exhaustion and weight gain.

How can we keep it healthy?

If we consume a healthy diet, that usually includes an adequate amount of iodine, which regulates the thyroid. When you see your physician for your annual check-up, always make sure that they examine the neck and thyroid area. This is most important. Thyroid [problems are] easily treated.

Pregnant? Tell your doctor

Dr. Alexander advises women who have hypothyroidism and who are thinking about becoming pregnant, or who have found out that they are pregnant, to inform their doctor immediately. “This is very important. The amount of thyroid supplement has to be carefully regulated, and it can be dangerous to a baby.”

Is it halting your weight loss?

Dr. Ridha Arem, author of “The Thyroid Solution Diet,” shares his insight.

“One of the most common hormonal imbalances that can make you gain weight and have trouble losing weight is thyroid hormone imbalance because thyroid hormone is the master hormone that regulates metabolism. Even low-grade underactive thyroid with normal or slightly abnormal thyroid tests can promote weight gain and difficulty losing weight. But even if your weight has been caused by other reasons than the thyroid, people end up having inefficiency of thyroid hormone in their body — perpetuating weight gain by slowing metabolism further and causing trouble losing weight. To make your weight loss efforts successful, you always need to consider the thyroid.”


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