Heads Up On Thyroid Health

World Thyroid Day is chance to shine the light on the tiny butterfly shaped gland at the base of your neck - your thyroid. With around 60,000 people (more women than men) reporting thyroid issues and conditions each year in Australia alone, it is important to recognise the symptoms of a thyroid disorder. 

Before you go and self-diagnose with a google symptom search, read on to find out more about this very busy and important gland.

What is it?

Our thyroid is a major gland located along the front of the windpipe, it works alongside the brain and the pituitary gland in a constant loop of communication that allows it to know just how much thyroid hormone to release at any given time.

The thyroid is important because:

  1. It regulates our metabolism

  2. It produces 2 thyroid hormones called T3 and T4 that are responsible for this regulation

Who is most at risk?

There are many different types of thyroid illness, disease etc. and they can affect men, women, babies, those who have recently had surgery and the elderly. Women over 50 are often talked about as a high-risk group for hypothyroidism in the media, with many suggesting that their weight gain or inability to lose weight is thyroid related.

Common conditions:

Hyperthyroidism (a.k.a Graves Disease) and hypothyroidism: ‘Hyper’ means too much of the T3 and T4 hormones are being released, causing you to lose weight and ‘hypo’ means not enough is being secreted and your metabolism slows as a result. These are 2 of the most common thyroid related conditions, affecting many thousands of Australians every year.  

If you are worried, check for these symptoms and visit your GP:

  • Visible lump in the neck

  • Nervousness and tremor

  • Mental fatigue

  • Menstrual changes (if you are a woman)

  • Bloating

  • Increased heartrate

  • Aches and pains in the body

  • Higher cholesterol levels

  • Weight gain or loss

  • Intolerance to hot or cold temperatures

The good news:

There are a range of treatments available by medical professionals and if you feel like you may be suffering with one of the above thyroid conditions, do not hesitate to speak with one for an official diagnosis and testing.

Diet is also important in managing thyroids and Iodine is the key ingredient to successful thyroid function, too much or too little can have negative implications for your thyroid and hormonal balance. The recommended amount for adults to consume is 150mg per day and 200-220mg for pregnant women. Great sources of Iodine include; salmon, oysters, some dairy, salt (iodised), sushi (with seaweed) and bread. 

A great excuse to order the seafood platter next time you are out!