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Health

Hypothyroidism / Underactive Thyroid / Hashimoto's Disease

What is the Thyroid?

The thyroid is a small gland, shaped like a butterfly, located in the lower part of your neck. The function of a gland is to secrete hormones. The main hormones released by the thyroid are triiodothyronine, abbreviated as T3, and thyroxine, abbreviated as T4. These thyroid hormones deliver energy to cells of the body.

What Diseases and Conditions Affect the Thyroid?

The most common problems that develop in the thyroid include:

  • Hypothyroidism -- An underactive thyroid.
  • Hyperthyroidism -- An overactive thyroid.
  • Goiter -- An enlarged thyroid.
  • Thyroid Nodules -- Lumps in the thyroid gland.
  • Thyroid Cancer -- Malignant thyroid nodules or tissue.
  • Thyroiditis -- Inflammation of the thyroid.
Hypothyroidism When the thyroid gland is underactive, improperly formed at birth, surgically removed all or in part, or becomes incapable of producing enough thyroid hormone, a person is said to be hypothyroid. One of the most common causes of hypothyroidism is the autoimmune disease called Hashimoto's disease, in which antibodies gradually target the thyroid and destroy its ability to produce thyroid hormone.

Symptoms of hypothyroidism usually go along with a slowdown in metabolism, and can include fatigue, weight gain, and depression, among others.


Hyperthyroidism When the thyroid gland becomes Autoimmune Thyroid Disease

Most thyroid dysfunction such as hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism is due to autoimmune thyroid disease. Autoimmune disease refers to a condition where the body's natural ability to differentiate between its tissues, organs and glands, vs. outside bacteria, viruses or pathogens, becomes disrupted. This causes the immune system to wrongly mount an attack on the affected area, by producing antibodies. In the case of autoimmune thyroid disease, antibodies either gradually destroy the thyroid, or make it overactive.

overactive and produces too much thyroid hormone, a person is said to be hyperthyroid. The most common cause of hyperthyroidism is the autoimmune condition known as graves disease, where antibodies target the gland and cause it to speed up hormone production.
Goiter/Thyroid Nodules Sometimes the thyroid becomes enlarged -- due to Hashimoto's disease, Graves' disease, nutritional deficiencies, or other thyroid imbalances. When the thyroid become enlarged, this is known as a goiter.

Some people develop solid or liquid filled cysts, lumps, bumps and tumors -- both benign and cancerous -- in the thyroid gland. These are known as thyroid nodules.


Thyroid Disease Symptoms

The signs and symptoms of hypothyroidism vary widely and some of the complaints experienced by individuals with hypothyroidism include:

  • fatigue,
  • mental fogginess and forgetfulness,
  • feeling excessively cold,
  • constipation,
  • dry skin,
  • fluid retention,
  • non specific aches and stiffness in muscles and joints,
  • excessive or prolonged menstrual bleeding (menorrhagia), and
  • depression.

Hyperthyroidism is suggested by a number of signs and symptoms. People with mild hyperthyroidism or those older than 70 years of age usually experience no symptoms. In general, the symptoms become more obvious as the condition worsens. Common symptoms of hyperthyroidism include:

  • excessive sweating,
  • heat intolerance,
  • increased bowel movements,
  • tremor (usually a fine shake),
  • nervousness; agitation,
  • rapid heart rate,
  • weight loss,
  • fatigue,
  • decreased concentration, and
  • irregular and scant menstrual flow.
Of special note, if you are overweight and nothing you've tried has helped you to lose weight, OR, if you are constantly moving and can't sleep, and no matter what you eat you never gain so much as an ounce of weight --- you have a thyroid problem. Not all obese people have a food problem, nor do all thin, high energy people suffer from "nervous energy."

We will add more information on this subject as time goes by.




Diabetes
Diabetes often goes undiagnosed because many of its symptoms seem so harmless.

Recent studies indicate that the early detection of diabetes symptoms and treatment can decrease the chance of developing the complications of diabetes.

Type 1 Diabetes

  • Frequent urination
  • Unusual thirst
  • Extreme hunger
  • Unusual weight loss
  • Extreme fatigue and Irritability

Type 2 Diabetes

  • Any of the type 1 symptoms
  • Frequent infections
  • Blurred vision
  • Cuts/bruises that are slow to heal
  • Tingling/numbness in the hands/feet
  • Recurring skin, gum, or bladder infections

Gestational Diabetes

  • Frequent urination
  • Unusual thirst
  • Extreme hunger
  • Unusual weight loss
  • Extreme fatigue and Irritability

If you have one or more of these diabetes symptoms, see your doctor right away.


Insulin Resistance and Diabetes

If you have pre-diabetes or diabetes, chances are that you’ve heard of the medical term insulin resistance syndrome or metabolic syndrome. Insulin resistance or metabolic syndrome describes a combination of health problems that have a common link -- an increased risk of diabetes and early heart disease.

The cluster of medical conditions that make up the insulin resistance syndrome or metabolic syndrome places a person at risk of developing type 2 diabetes and atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries). It is estimated that 34% of adult Americans have insulin resistance or metabolic syndrome.

Diseases or conditions associated with insulin resistance include the following:

  • Obesity
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • Abnormal cholesterol levels
  • Heart disease
  • Polycystic ovary syndrome

 

What Is Insulin Resistance?

Normally, food is absorbed into the bloodstream in the form of sugars such as glucose and other basic substances. The increase in sugar in the bloodstream signals the pancreas (an organ located behind the stomach) to increase the secretion of a hormone called insulin. This hormone attaches to cells, removing sugar from the bloodstream so that it can be used for energy.

In insulin resistance, the body's cells have a diminished ability to respond to the action of the insulin hormone. To compensate for the insulin resistance, the pancreas secretes more insulin.

People with this syndrome have insulin resistance and high levels of insulin in the blood as a marker of the disease rather than a cause.

Over time people with insulin resistance can develop high sugars or diabetes as the high insulin levels can no longer compensate for elevated sugars.

What Are The Signs of Insulin Resistance Syndrome?

The signs of insulin resistance syndrome include:

  • Impaired fasting blood sugar, impaired glucose tolerance, or type 2 diabetes. This occurs because the pancreas is unable to turn out enough insulin to overcome the insulin resistance. Blood sugar levels rise and prediabetes or diabetes is diagnosed.
  • High blood pressure. The mechanism is unclear, but studies suggest that the worse the blood pressure, the worse the insulin resistance.
  • Abnormal cholesterol levels. The typical cholesterol levels of a person with insulin resistance are low HDL, or good cholesterol, and high levels of another blood fat called triglycerides.
  • Heart disease. The insulin resistance syndrome can result in atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) and an increased risk of blood clots.
  • Obesity. A major factor in the development of insulin resistance syndrome is obesity -- especially abdominal obesity or belly fat. Obesity promotes insulin resistance and negatively impacts insulin responsiveness in a person. Weight loss can improve the body's ability to recognize and use insulin appropriately.
  • Kidney damage. Protein in the urine is a sign that kidney damage has occurred, although not everyone uses this component to define insulin resistant syndrome.

Why is it called Diabetes Mellitus?

Diabetes comes from Greek, and it means a "siphon". Aretus the Cappadocian, a Greek physician during the second century A.D., named the condition diabainein. He described patients who were passing too much water (polyuria) - like a siphon. The word became "diabetes" from the English adoption of the Medieval Latin diabetes.

In 1675, Thomas Willis added mellitus to the term, although it is commonly referred to simply as diabetes. Mel in Latin means "honey"; the urine and blood of people with diabetes has excess glucose, and glucose is sweet like honey. Diabetes mellitus could literally mean "siphoning off sweet water".

In ancient China people observed that ants would be attracted to some people's urine, because it was sweet. The term "Sweet Urine Disease" was coined.



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