The thyroid is a butterfly shaped gland at the front of the throat just below the Adam’s apple. Our thyroid gland regulates our Metabolism and is responsible for creating hormones that drive several metabolic systems including our growth, both physical and mental, and our energy stores.
Around one in 20 people will experience some form of thyroid dysfunction (either overactive or underactive) in their life. Thyroid problems tend to affect a larger percentage of women more than men and the risk of thyroid dysfunction increases as you age.
Your metabolism is your body’s ability to break down food and convert it to energy. Food is like fuel for our bodies and each person uses it at a different rate. This is why you often hear about some people having a fast or a slow metabolism.
Metabolism is determined by measuring the amount of oxygen used by the body over a specific amount of time. If the measurement is made at rest, it is known as the basal metabolic rate (BMR).
Differences in BMRs are associated with changes in energy balance. Energy balance reflects the difference between the amount of calories one eats and the amount of calories the body uses. A negative energy balance may lead to weight loss as occurs with hyperthyroidism. The BMR in a person with hypothyroidism is decreased, so an underactive thyroid is generally associated with some weight gain.
Measurement of the BMR was one of the earliest tests used to assess thyroid dysfunction. Patients whose thyroid glands were underactive (hypo) were found to have low BMRs, and those with overactive (hyper) thyroid glands had high BMRs.
Hyper Or Hypo Thyroidism?
If you have Hyperthyroidism when your thyroid produces too much thyroid hormone, you may feel wired, anxious and impatient, you may also be prone to sweating and a pounding heart.
If you have Hypothyroidism when your thyroid hormone production is insufficient, you will feel the cold, get tired easily, feel slow, think slow and have insufficient energy to tackle things.
Diagnosis and Measurement of Thyroid function
Thyroid dysfunction is diagnosed after blood tests are taken and may be treated with drugs or sometimes surgery. An overactive thyroid may be suppressed by taking a specific drug. An underactive thyroid is generally treated with a supplement of thyroid hormone. The patients doctor will order blood tests every 6 weeks to three months until the right dose is settled on. Blood pressure, pulse rate and body temperature are simple checks that people can make to chart their treatment progress themselves.
If you have had tests done and need help to decipher them check out Optimal Lab Values
This info is a bit simplistic. Different types of thyroid disease will require different treatments. The thyroid gland may be damaged in many different ways, so you will need to look for websites with comprehensive Thyroid information that is specific to your personal diagnosis. The following 2 websites gives simple easy to understand information.