The thyroid gland is a butterfly-shaped gland in the neck, just above the collarbone. The thyroid gland makes hormones that help control many of the body’s metabolic processes, such as heart rate, blood pressure, body temperature and weight. Metabolism is a process, where the food you take into your body is transformed into energy.
The thyroid gland makes thyroid hormones called thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3). These hormones are carried around the body in the bloodstream. T4 and T3 help to keep the body's functions (the metabolism) working at the correct pace. Many cells and tissues in the body need T4 and T3 to keep them working correctly. When the thyroid makes either too much or too little of these important hormones, it can lead to conditions that cause health concerns.
Thyroid Conditions Include:
Goitre - It is an abnormal enlargement of the thyroid gland. It causes a lump in the front of the neck. This lump can move up or down when you swallow. Goitres can be harmless, or can represent iodine deficiency. In many cases there are no symptoms apart from the appearance of a swelling in the neck. The size of a goitre can range from very small and barely noticeable, to very large. Most goitres are painless. However, an inflamed thyroid gland (thyroiditis) can be painful.
Hyperthyroidism This occurs when the thyroid becomes overactive and makes too much thyroid hormone. Energy is used too quickly. This will do more than make you tired. The most common symptoms of hyperthyroidism are feeling anxious or nervous, being unable to tolerate heat, having heart palpitations, feeling fatigued and losing weight, even if you’re eating sufficiently.
Hypothyroidism This occurs when the thyroid is underactive and does not make enough thyroid hormone. This condition can exist and go on for years without showing any signs. When symptoms begin to appear, they can be varied and can include tiredness, unable to tolerate the cold, dry skin, weight gain, poor concentration and depression.
Thyroid cancer- The thyroid cells become cancerous in this condition. It is a very rare condition. However, it is important to ask your doctor to check any lump in your neck.
Thyroid nodules- Lumps or cysts in the thyroid gland. This is a non-cancerous sac-like swelling filled with fluid. These lumps can stop the thyroid gland from working properly, or they are simply uncomfortable.
Thyroiditis- This is the inflammation of the thyroid, usually from a viral infection or autoimmune condition. Thyroiditis can be painful, or have no symptoms at all. Having a baby can sometimes trigger a thyroid disorder. There is swelling of the thyroid. This is known as postpartum thyroiditis. It is usually temporary but can return each time you have a baby.
Thyroid disorders are very common and tend mainly to occur in women, although anybody - men, teenagers, children, and babies, too - can be affected. If you think you may have a thyroid problem, it is important to see your doctor.The standard blood test to detect thyroid level imbalance is called the Thyroid Function Test.
An endocrinologist is a specially trained doctor who is qualified to diagnose and treat hormone-related diseases and conditions, including thyroid cancer and all other diseases related to the thyroid gland. Prescription medications and sometimes surgery are used to adjust thyroid hormone levels. Treatment for thyroid disease varies depending on the specific condition. Ensuring that the thyroid gland is healthy and functioning properly is vitally important to the body's overall well-being.
In terms of Nutrition and Fitness, it is essential for your dietitian to know if you have a pre-existing thyroid condition. This will help develop a sound strategy to work towards a nutrition and fitness plan that will be effective for the client and also allow the client in maintaining their health goals, once they are reached.