Thyroid Disease

Thyroid Disease

 Are you feeling stressed, run down or exhausted?  Are you gaining or losing weight, feeling blue or losing hair? These could be signs of a thyroid condition. It is estimated that in Canada, 1 in 10 people suffer from a thyroid condition with as many as 50% undiagnosed1.

Cardiac disease, lupus, reproductive difficulties, diabetes, arthritis as well as many other health issues are associated with a poorly functioning thyroid gland. Research has shown that early thyroid assessment can, in many cases, reduce the incidence or severity of these debilitating diseases.

Your thyroid is a small, butterfly-shaped gland located at the base of your neck that controls the rate at which every cell, tissue, and organ in your body functions.  It does this primarily by secreting hormones that regulate your heart rate, blood pressure, body temperature and weight These hormones control how fast and efficiently cells convert nutrients into energy—a chemical activity known as metabolism.

When the thyroid stops functioning properly it might not produce enough hormone, slowing down all of your body’s functions, a condition known as hypothyroidism or underactive thyroid. Or your thyroid could produce too much hormone, sending your systems into overdrive, a condition known as hyperthyroidism, or overactive thyroid.


Signs and symptoms of thyroid disease2

 Symptoms of hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid) may include:

  • Fatigue
  • Increased sensitivity to cold
  • Constipation
  • Dry skin
  • Unexplained weight gain
  • Puffy face
  • Hoarseness
  • Muscle weakness
  • Elevated blood cholesterol level
  • Muscle aches, tenderness and stiffness
  • Pain, stiffness or swelling in your joints
  • Heavier than normal or irregular menstrual periods
  • Thinning hair
  • Slowed heart rate
  • Depression
  • Impaired memory

 Symptoms of hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid) may include:

  • Sudden weight loss, even when your appetite and the amount and type of food you eat remain the same or even increase
  • Rapid heartbeat (tachycardia), irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia) or pounding of your heart (palpitations)
  • Increased appetite
  • Nervousness, anxiety and irritability
  • Tremor — usually a fine trembling in your hands and fingers
  • Sweating
  • Changes in menstrual patterns
  • Increased sensitivity to heat
  • Changes in bowel patterns, especially more frequent bowel movements
  • An enlarged thyroid gland (goiter), which may appear as a swelling at the base of your neck
  • Fatigue, muscle weakness
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Skin thinning
  • Fine, brittle hair


Diagnosing A Thyroid Problem

The most common method of diagnosing a thyroid problem is through a medical history and exam. If your physician suspects a thyroid problem, they may order a simple blood test that measures your level of thyroid secreting hormone (TSH) and sometimes the level of the thyroid hormone thyroxine. High levels of thyroxine and low or nonexistent amounts of TSH indicate an overactive thyroid; while  a low level of thyroxine and high level of TSH indicate an underactive thyroid.


1. Thyroid Foundation of Canada –

2. The Mayo Clinic Health Info –