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The thyroid gland is a part of the endocrine system which produces and regulates hormones in the body. This small, butterfly-shaped organ can be found in the front part of the neck, only palpable when a person swallows (as the thyroid moves up and down). The thyroid produces several hormones, namely: thyroid stimulating hormones (TSH), thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3). The hormones produced by the thyroid regulate growth, metabolism, and body temperature – which is why thyroid problems (either an underproduction or overproduction of hormones) usually affect weight, activity, and physical development. 
Hypothyroidism (UNDERactive thyroid, does not make enough thyroid hormone) and hyperthyroidism (OVERactive thyroid, makes too much thyroid hormone) are two very different conditions, although some signs and symptoms like fatigue are found in both.  Managing thyroid problems involves observing these signs and symptoms so recognizing what exact condition you may have is very important. Note – this article is not intended for self-diagnosis or self-treatment. If you have symptoms or think you may have thyroid problems, consult your doctor for actual diagnosis and treatment.
Hypothyroidism is characterized by:
1. Weight gain, caused by decreased metabolism.
2. Slow response to stress (“fight or flight” response), caused by decreased sensitivity to adrenal hormones.
3. Slower reflexes and decreased muscle tone.
4. Fatigue, caused by decreased cardiac output and slower heart rate.
5. Constipation, caused by decreased gastrointestinal motility.
Hyperthyroidism is characterized by:
6. Weight loss, caused by increased metabolic rate.
7. Heightened stress response, caused by increased sensitivity to adrenal hormones.
8. Tremors and twitching, caused by increased muscle tone and reflexes.
9. Fatigue, caused by irregular heart beat (palpitations) due to increased cardiac output and faster heart rate.
10. Diarrhea, caused by increased gastrointestinal motility.
10 Tips For How To Manage A Thyroid Condition
1. If fatigued, spread out your activities throughout the day – fatigue can be combated by giving enough time to perform each daily activity and allowing for rest periods in between. 
2. Speaking of rest– be sure to maintain a regular sleeping schedule. If you sleep at the same time every night, you are more likely to wake up well-rested in the morning.
3. Adjust your caloric intake. If you have hypothyroidism, you have to decrease caloric intake to prevent weight gain. 
4. If you have hyperthyroidism, you have to increase caloric intake to meet the needs of a higher metabolic rate. 
5. Increase fiber intake if you are having problems with constipation (e.g. green leafy vegetables). 
6. If you are experiencing diarrhea, try including bulk-forming foods in your diet (e.g. bananas). 
7. Increase your protein intake to keep up with protein synthesis problems, characteristic of thyroid problems.
8. Take time to relax. Stress can aggravate the symptoms of thyroid malfunction so keep stress levels to a minimum can help prevent the signs and symptoms from getting worse. 
9. You can take iodine supplements to help with thyroid function, but only after conferring with your physician. Pregnant women who are at risk for hypothyroidism are advised to take iodine supplements to improve the levels of their thyroid hormones. 
10. Remember to monitor your thyroid function levels with regular blood tests. Medical management is a very important part in preventing the adverse signs and symptoms of hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism.
Further Reading: Top 10 Herbs For The Thyroid
 National Institute of Health (2014). Thyroid Diseases.https://nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/thyroiddiseases.html
 Porth, C. (2002). Pathophysiology: Concepts of Altered Health States. p912
 Smeltzer, S., et. al. (2010). Brunner and Suddarth’s Textbook of Medical-Surgical Nursing. p1259
 Mizokami, T., et. al. (2005). Stress and Thyroid Autoimmunity. https://online.liebertpub.com/doi/abs/10.1089/thy.2004.14.1047
 Moleti, M., et. al. (2011). Maternal thyroid function in different conditions of iodine nutrition in pregnant women exposed to mild-moderate iodine deficiency: an observational study. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21521276
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