What is the Thyroid Gland?

The thyroid is a small endocrine gland located just below your adam’s apple and is often described visually as a butterfly having two halves or lobes.

The thyroid release hormones that influence many bodily functions, such as physical growth and development, metabolism, puberty, organ function, fertility and body temperature. These functions depend on two hormones released from the thyroid gland: tri-iodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine (T4).

The thyroid gland can produce too much of these hormones (hyperthyroidism) or not enough (hypothyroidism). These thyroid hormones play a vital role in the body, thereby influencing all organs. They also determine how fast or how slow the organs should work and when the body systems use energy.

Help for a Thyroid Disorder

Once we know what causes thyroid disorders and are diagnosed, we must seek proper treatment. The treatment will depends on the type of thyroid disorder. There are three main categories of conventional medical treatments - prescription medication, radioactive iodine and surgery.

Although thyroid disorders can be life-long conditions, most are easy to manage but complications can occur if they are left untreated or if the incorrect treatment is used.

There are many alternative treatment options available for sufferers in addition to the conventional methods listed above. Because conventional treatments often provide only partial relief to patients, alternative and natural treatments are being embraced more enthusiastically.

Holistic and natural treatment programs can help overcome a variety of thyroid conditions and symptoms. The combination of homeopathic and herbal remedies often has no side effects, is effective and safe to use.

A healthy diet, exercise, meditation and other mind-body therapies have given many patients relief and comfort. Many natural and alternative remedies can also be investigated as a broader treatment plan that addresses the cause of the disorder, and not just the symptoms.

Remember, however, that any thyroid disorder should be evaluated by a health professional whether choosing conventional treatments or an alternative option as your treatment plan.

Diagnosing a Thyroid Disorder

A blood sample is the best screening method for any thyroid disorder. A blood analysis will help determine the levels of T4 and T3 that exist in the blood and can provide a picture of how the thyroid is functioning.

If your doctor feels further tests are necessary, they may administer a radioactive iodine uptake test. The type of radioactive iodine used for the test will not harm the thyroid or pose any risk to you. After 24 hours, special equipment is then used to measure the amount of radioactivity over the thyroid gland.

Thyroid tests can often come back normal or sub clinical although the thyroid is not functioning as it should be and all the symptoms of hypothyroidism are experienced. This is because a normal result on tests only indicates that the thyroid functioning falls within the average or slightly below average range.

Because thyroid functioning can vary from person to person, what may be normal for one person is not necessarily so for the next person. That is why the results of thyroid tests must always be seen in the context of symptoms experienced by the patient.

Patients who have a good working knowledge of their bodies can provide valuable information which assists the diagnostic process.

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