I suppose I should first start out talking about the ever-popular thyroid…or as I like to refer to it, “that lump in my throat”. The thyroid gland IS located in the neck region of the body just below the larynx (otherwise known as the ”Adam’s Apple”) or the “voice box”. This highly popular gland sits just below the protruding neck bulge in males (women have a “voice box”, too…it just doesn’t protrude like it does in men). One of the thyroid’s primary responsibilities is to squirt out a hormone called Thyroxine. Thyroxine controls and regulates body metabolism. But the production of Thyroxine is dependent upon an appropriate intake of protein and iodine AND another little gland, called the pituitary gland. The pituitary gland is an entirely different and complicated gland, but trust me when I say it works in tandem with the thyroid by releasing yet ANOTHER important hormone called thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH, for all you peeps who wondered what those abbreviations were on your lab reports). TSH stimulates the thyroid to release the Thyroxine, thus stimulating your metabolism…is anyone LOST yet?!?
Thyroxine production from the thyroid can also be dependent upon a number of other environmental factors, such as psychological stress, prolonged exposure to the cold or excessive heat, ingestion of certain drugs, and I believe also the planetary alignments (that planetary suggestion is where the black magic comes in…LOL).
There are three, main types of thyroid dysfunction: 1. An enlarged thyroid (goiter), 2. hyperthyroidism (Grave’s Disease), or 3. hypothyroidism (Hashimoto’s Disease). You can also get thyroid cancer and an inflammation of the thyroid gland, but why bring up THOSE subjects here when there are soooo many other interesting topics to discuss?!?
There are a whole bunch of lab/blood tests doctors can look at to determine how well your thyroid is functioning. The most common labs you’ll get BILLED for are testing your T3, T4, and TSH levels. I’m not going to go into a long and drawn out discussion of what each of these “levels” are measuring…basically, because I went to school like a hundred years ago and I can’t really recall! But the “biggie” is the TSH level. Doctors LOVE to test your TSH level…and the funny thing is, unless they are an endocrinologist, THEY probably don’t remember what T3 and T4 stand for either! But I digress…
The MAJOR and BIG connection you should remember (because there WILL be a test on this after class…LOL) is, both Grave’s Disease and Hashimoto’s Disease are thought to be AUTOIMMUNE DISORDERS…now, doesn’t THAT little fact ring a bell??? Uhhh…Multiple Sclerosis anyone? Remember MS is an autoimmune disorder as well??? And there is some belief out there (and even current studies being done) that people with MS will OFTEN have a clustering of autoimmune disorders or quite often at LEAST have more than one autoimmune disorder going on.
Now I CAN’T possibly pass up this opportunity to give you a LIST of some of the more common clustering of autoimmune disorders seen with MS…I’ll get back to the thyroid in a minute, so hold your horses! Autoimmune diseases that are reported to occur more frequently than expected in patients with MS include:
• inflammatory bowel disease (Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis)
• type 1 diabetes mellitus
• pernicious anemia (vitamin B12 deficiency)
• thyroid disease (Graves’ disease or Hashimoto’s thyroiditis)
• uveitis (inflammation of the eye)
• seronegative spondyloarthropathies (diseases that cause inflammation in specific areas of the body, particularly in parts of the spine and at other joints where tendons attach to bones)
• myasthenia gravis (disorder of neuromuscular transmission)
• rheumatoid arthritis
Dammit, Jim! And I thought having MS was enough!
So, back to the exciting thyroid. LOL Let’s start with hyperthyroidism. When the “roid” begins to over react/activate, it’s never a “good thing” even by Martha Stewart’s standards. The gland goes out of control and secrets TOO MUCH thyroid hormone and people feel like crap…but they’re usually to “sped up” to stop long enough to care! Some symptoms of hyperthyroidism (or Grave’s Disease, if it’s really bad) are:
**Nervousness, agitation, irritability, ravenous appetite (but often still with weight loss because the metabolism is running on over time), diarrhea, heat intolerance, major sweating, rapid heart rate, tremors and uncoordinated movement, and a VERY CYCLIC MOOD (see, I promised you some psych information here, Have Myelin!)…one tends to look a bit psychotic over time with hyperthyroidism…”one” could find themselves locked up in a psychiatric hospital before it is discovered it is a thyroid problem, too! LOL And let me not forget to mention a fancy term here called, “Exophthalmos”, otherwise known as “Marty Feldman” eyes.**
When experiencing HYPOthyroidism, there is not ENOUGH Thyroxine floating around in the system. It tends to look and manifest almost exactly opposite as hyperthyroidism (Grave’s Disease). The worst forms of hypothyroidism are called, “Hashimoto’s Disease” or “Myxedema”. This is most commonly what we middle-aged women might develop, but in a milder form than Hashimoto’s or Myxedema. Symptoms of hypothyroidism include:
**Fatigue, lethargy, mild sensitivity to cold, dry skin and hair, constipation, forgetfulness, depression, apathy (there’s the psych issue again), mild to moderate weight gain, and a generalized feeling like a “slug” disorder. Now don’t THESE symptoms sound an awful like some associated with that “other” autoimmune disease (MS)?**
If you are into making mountains out of mole hills (and God knows, I am), there was a study done in 2005 and published in the Journal of Autoimmune Diseases that suggests there really IS a significant co-occurrence of thyroid disorders and MS. Here’s a link: http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/articlerender.fcgi?artid=1308850 . That is, if you are INTO reading this sort of medical mush. LOL
I hope this answers some of those questions all y’all were commenting on here at “Cheese”…I don’t claim to know much at all about thyroid disorders…frankly, I don’t claim to know much at all about ANYTHING! I suggest if you think you ARE having some kind of problem with your own “roid”, you consult your doctor or go see an endocrinologist. And if THAT fails, may I suggest seeing a priest…LOL…