The Thyroid


Around this time I went a little bit nuts, I couldn’t get warm, I had problems sleeping, my brain felt ‘fuzzy’ my heart was missing beats and speeding up at rest and then I’d be too hot, felt really tired and depressed, if someone gave me a book to read I’d say ‘Readit’ and I impressively started catching flies with my tongue (OK I made that bit up!) But, I really wasn’t my normal self at all.

My GP diagnosed an enlarged thyroid gland and I hopped off (get it?!) to the local hospital for blood tests and an ultra sound scan. The scan revealed a cyst on my thyroid which had filled with blood; hence the frog throat! They also discovered that I had a lot of nodules on my thyroid which apparently is common but most people would never know they had them if they didn’t have a problem like me.

They needed to investigate the nodules which meant a fine needle aspiration procedure, in other works a needle was stuck in my neck into my thyroid to collect cells to see if they were benign. (Non-cancerous) It felt a little like dyno-rod clearing a blocked drain the way the needle was pushed back and forward in my neck to gather the cells, it didn’t hurt just a bit uncomfortable. The first test I had came back ‘inconclusive’, the second test also came back ‘inconclusive’ which I’m told is common when nodules are benign, which is a good thing.

As for the Bull Frog throat I was told that there was a possibility of it getting bigger which could cause problems with swallowing or breathing and might lead to surgery to remove part or all of the thyroid, they could drain it but in all likelihood it would refill again, or they could leave it alone and see if it settled down. Of course, I chose the last option!

What is the Thyroid?

It is a butterfly- shaped gland in the neck, just below the Adam’s apple and above the collar bone. This gland has a dramatic effect on the function of the body; it produces two hormones,thyroxine and triiodothyronine which are necessary for all cells in the body to work normally.

What can go wrong?

Thyroid disorders are very common, it affects mainly women but men, teenagers, children and babies can also be affected. I in 20 people have some kind of thyroid problem, some are permanent and others are temporary

Why does it go wrong?

There are many different reasons,

What are the tests for thyroid problems?

Can it be cured?

If you have either of these conditions you will be prescribed medication to help regulate the thyroid function. Some conditions settle down after time, others require medication for life

What are the signs that there is a problem?

You’re knackered! If you wake up in the morning feeling exhausted even when you’ve had a good nights sleep it could be due to hypothyroidism. The cells and organs are working more slowly which can cause extreme fatigue

You feel depressed  Depression for no apparent reason can be linked to hypothyroidism

You feel anxious Anxiety is a symptom of hyperthyroidism

Your appetite changes if you are starving hungry all the time, are eating more than usual but you’re not putting weight on or in fact you are losing weight it could be due to hyperthyroidism. Or, if you haven’t changed your eating and exercise habits and you are putting weight on this could be caused by hypothyroidism

You’re on a different planet Does your brain feel ‘fuzzy? You can’t concentrate or you’re forgetful you may have hypothyroidism

No sex we’re British A low or non-existent libido could be due to hypothyroidism

Your heart feels weird Missing beats, palpitations, heart beats that feel too strong and too quick can be linked to hyperthyroidism

You’ve got skin like a reptile exceptionally dry flaky skin and an inability to sweat can be caused by hypothyroidism

Bowels are all over the place! Constipation – Hypothyroidism, diarrhoea – Hyperthyroidism

Period problems Longer, heavier cycles and periods closer together linked to Hypothyroidism, irregular shorter and lighter periods linked to hyperthyroidism

Painful muscles unexplained pain in the arms, legs, feet and hands or tingles and twinges could be caused by hypothyroidism

High blood pressure Low amounts of thyroid slows down the heart rate which affects the pumping strength and blood vessel wall flexibility which can cause an increase in blood pressure

You can’t get warm Feeling extremely cold could be because of hypothyroidism, unable to tolerate heat can be linked to hyperthyroidism

Croaky voice or your neck feels funny watch as you swallow a drink of water; look out for bulges, lumps and protrusions or like mine, a general look of thickness around the thyroid area

Your sleep patterns change Hypothyroidism makes you want to sleep all the time whereas hyperthyroidism can make falling asleep difficult or you may be waking up throughout the night

Changes to your hair Have you noticed your hair has become dry and brittle and breaks easily? This could be due to hypothyroidism; thinning hair which may also be falling out could mean hyperthyroidism

Infertility problems Hypothyroidism can cause problems if you are trying to get pregnant

If you are worried and think that you may have a problem speak to your GP. Many of the symptoms are similar to the menopause so if you are of that age, make sure you have a blood test to rule the thyroid out.

What food should you eat or avoid?

Some foods are labelled as ‘goitrogan’ meaning that they interfere with thyroid function. If you research them there are  loads of foods listed, soya is one of these food groups. Soya has many health benefits and research shows no evidence that it can cause thyroid disease or interfere with its function but it has been known to interfere with the absorption of synesthetic hormone medication. Iodine deficiency can cause the development of a goitre (swelling) Iodine is needed to make thyroid hormones. This is rare as most people eat a varied diet which includes iodine. Too much iodine is linked to hyperthyroidism.

There is no official evidence that eating or avoiding certain foods will improve the function of the thyroid, as always it’s best to eat a variety of food groups missing out the trans fats and sugars.

I had a scan yesterday and I’m very happy to say that the cyst on my thyroid has reduced in size considerably; the nodule is clear and I no longer resemble an amphibian! My thyroid mucks about from time to time but basically I feel I’m back to my former human self and can comfortably walk past garden ponds without the urge to jump in….

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