Taking care of your thyroid is vital for your overall health. This tiny gland in your neck has a huge impact on many body functions, from controlling your metabolism and weight to influencing your heart health and mental well-being. But if your thyroid isn’t functioning correctly, it can trigger a domino effect of health problems, impacting everything from how energetic you feel to your overall mood.
Explore eight reasons why visiting an endocrinologist to monitor your thyroid health is not just beneficial but essential for a healthy, balanced life.
1. Your Thyroid is Responsible for Energy Metabolism
If you feel more tired than usual, your thyroid may be responsible. The thyroid gland controls your metabolism – the rate at which your body burns calories and uses energy. When your thyroid doesn’t produce the right amount of the thyroid hormones thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3), you may notice drastic swings in how energetic you feel.
For instance, when your body doesn’t produce enough of these hormones, a condition known as hypothyroidism, you might feel tired and slow all day, even after a good night’s sleep. Conversely, if your body makes too much thyroid hormone, known as hyperthyroidism, your metabolism speeds up, causing you to feel fatigued and worn out because your energy reserves are depleted.
2. Your Thyroid Controls Digestion
Maintaining a healthy thyroid ensures a well-functioning digestive system. Thyroid hormones control the speed at which your digestive system processes food. They ensure that the muscular contractions in your gastrointestinal tract, known as peristalsis, move food through your system.
When your thyroid underperforms, it slows down your digestive processes, leading to symptoms such as constipation, bloating, and abdominal discomfort. Hypothyroidism also affects liver function, reducing bile production and is essential for fat digestion.
An overactive thyroid speeds up digestion, resulting in frequent bowel movements or diarrhea, and may lead to nutrient malabsorption.
Your digestive system can also impact your thyroid health. Poor gut health can contribute to the development of Hashimoto’s disease. This autoimmune condition causes the immune system to attack the thyroid, disrupting hormone production and further impacting digestive health.
3. Thyroid Hormones Impact Your Pregnancy
If you are planning to conceive or are currently pregnant, managing your thyroid is important for your maternal health and your developing fetus. During pregnancy, your body’s demand for thyroid hormones increases. These hormones help with fetal brain and nervous system development.
Insufficient thyroid hormone levels can lead to complications such as miscarriage, preterm birth, low birth weight, and developmental issues in your baby. Excessive thyroid hormone levels can increase the risk of pregnancy-induced hypertension and premature birth.
If you show symptoms of thyroid dysfunction, have your thyroid hormones monitored regularly as part of your prenatal care to increase the chances of a healthy birth.
4. Your Thyroid Can Affect Your Mental Health
Ensuring you have a healthy thyroid is integral to caring for your mental well-being. Thyroid hormones regulate neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine, which are essential for mood and cognitive processes.
When you have a thyroid hormone deficiency, this can result in symptoms like depression, fatigue, and cognitive impairment. The reduced levels of thyroid hormones can also slow down brain activity, leading to mental sluggishness or brain fog.
Excess thyroid hormones can cause neurotransmitter overstimulation, leading to symptoms such as anxiety, nervousness, and irritability. Increased thyroid hormone levels can accelerate brain function, causing heightened alertness and anxiety.
Long-term hormone imbalances can also cause structural changes in your brain. For instance, prolonged hypothyroidism can alter the size of your brain and how your brain cells connect, while hyperthyroidism puts your nervous system into overdrive, affecting your sleep and making it harder for you to manage stress.
5. Balancing Thyroid Hormones Can Help Manage Your Weight
Thyroid hormones control your body’s metabolism, which determines how quickly your body burns calories. When these hormones are at optimal levels, your metabolism functions efficiently, helping you maintain a healthy weight.
However, if your thyroid is underactive, it produces fewer hormones, leading to a slower metabolism. This slowdown means your body burns fewer calories, which can result in weight gain, even if your diet and exercise habits haven’t changed.
On the other hand, an overactive thyroid increases the production of hormones. This speeds up your metabolism, causing your body to burn more calories and potentially leading to weight loss, regardless of your eating habits.
Changes in your weight can put you at a higher risk of developing conditions like heart disease, diabetes, and stroke.
6. Better Thyroid Function Can Improve Your Sex Life
A 2019 study found that up to 60% of women and 77% of men with thyroid issues experienced sexual dysfunction. It was found that hypothyroidism was linked to low libido, while hyperthyroidism caused erectile dysfunction.
Low thyroid hormone production is also related to depression and other mental health issues that may negatively impact your sex life. Managing your thyroid levels with a physician-recommended treatment plan can help you maintain a more satisfying intimate relationship with your partner.
7. Low Thyroid Function May Harm Your Bone Health
Low thyroid function, or hypothyroidism, can negatively impact bone health. This condition slows down the metabolic processes in your body, including the renewal and repair of bone tissues. Normally, bones continuously break down and rebuild. However, with hypothyroidism, this process becomes less efficient, leading to weaker bones over time.
This weakening of bones increases the risk of osteoporosis, a condition where bones become brittle and more prone to fractures. The risk is especially high in postmenopausal women who are already at a greater risk for osteoporosis. Additionally, hypothyroidism can lead to lower levels of calcium and phosphate in the blood, essential minerals for strong bones.
8. Your Thyroid is Connected With Your Heart Health
Your thyroid is intricately connected with your heart health. Thyroid hormones regulate your heart rate and strength of heart contractions. An imbalance in these hormones can significantly affect cardiac function.
If you have hypothyroidism, your heart rate can slow down, potentially leading to a condition known as bradycardia. This can reduce cardiac output and impair circulation. Hypothyroidism can also increase your levels of LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol), heightening the risk of atherosclerosis and heart disease.
Hyperthyroidism can cause tachycardia (an abnormally fast heart rate) and palpitations. This can strain the heart, increasing the risk of heart conditions like atrial fibrillation, which can lead to stroke and heart failure.
Support Your Thyroid Health
If you experience symptoms like unexplained mood changes, weight fluctuations, or plummeting energy levels, you may have a thyroid condition. Visit Associated Endocrinologists for a fast, accurate diagnosis using state-of-the-art ultrasound technology and cutting-edge techniques like fine needle aspiration biopsy.
Our experienced physicians can provide you with a personalized plan that may incorporate a range of treatments, from medications to radiofrequency ablation, to help you manage your thyroid. Contact us today to book your appointment.