Francine Joyce

Thyroid disorders

How your thyroid impacts your weight and general health

Thyroid disorders

"The thyroid is our jack-of-all-trades butler! Do not underestimate its lightness! This small gland the size of a butterfly regulates, like a discreet and capricious conductor, all the metabolic functions of your body.

Its role is crucial from childhood for the growth of the child and the development of his / her nervous system. In adulthood, its impact on our daily lives is constant. It weighs only 30 grams, but it can easily transform you into a bomb or a wreck ! In HPI mode (high-potential-hyperactive), it produces -with disproportionate generosity- hormones that will accelerate the functioning of your entire body. This hormonal abundance will trigger a storm of symptoms: palpitations, restlessness, excessive sweating, weight loss without dieting, accelerated transit, sensation of heat, chills, irritability, sleep disturbances, anxiety, excitability...

Conversely, if it functions slowly, it will slow down your metabolism and cause significant weight gain, oedema (water retention), stubborn constipation, low mood, chronic fatigue, sensitivity to cold, hair loss, difficulties in concentration and memorization. Your heart rate will slow down (bradycardia), women’s menstrual cycle becomes irregular, and their skin loses its elasticity...


The warning signs of a dysfunctional thyroid are subtle at first. They are difficult to recognize because they can be caused by a large number of other conditions. In women (who are 6 times more affected than men), they are often similar to those caused by menopause. Therefore, they do not necessarily prompt a visit to an endocrinologist. The disease can go unnoticed for a long time. It is the combination of symptoms that will alert the doctor.

Diagnosis is first made by examining and palpating the neck to detect any nodules or enlargement of the gland. Blood tests then detect abnormalities in hormone production levels (mainly TSH, T3, and T4).

Predispositions to thyroid dysfunction include :

Gender (women are more affected than men)

Age (these disorders are more common from the age of fifty)

A history of auto-immune diseases in your family

Thyroid dysfunction can occur from birth (a heel prick test is mandatory at birth for all infants to detect any potential thyroid dysfunction. This would have serious health consequences on the baby if not treated immediately).

In women, inflammatory reactions (often after a pregnancy) can trigger thyroid dysfunction. Among culprits are : stress, menopause, poor diet, vitamin 12 deficiency and smoking

Once the diagnosis is confirmed, the treatment is lifelong. Thyroid disease cannot be cured, but it can be managed. Medication based on thyroxine along with an iodine rich diet (seafood products) enables patients with hypothyroidism to regain a normal life once the dose is adjusted. But beware! The cause of hormonal imbalance may be different. It might be  related to malfunction of your hypothalamus or your pituitary gland. In this case, thyroxine will not be effective. Conversely, a patient may have normal TSH levels and suffer from all the symptoms of hypo- or hyperthyroidism. Additional tests are then necessary and must be interpreted by a specialist. Surgery is an option if a benign nodule becomes too large. Total gland removal is only considered in cases of cancer and with great success.

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