Your thyroid gland is an important part of your endocrine system. When your thyroid gland is off, it can affect your other hormones–and even your entire health. If your thyroid gland is operating at too low or high of a level, your overall health can suffer.
Too much or too little of your thyroid hormone can cause hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism, both of which have major impacts on your body. In this blog, Dr. Leo Kao of Lakewood Ranch Health explains more about how your thyroid hormone affects your health.
The role of your thyroid gland
Your thyroid gland is essential to your overall health. Because your thyroid system influences your metabolism, it affects every other part of your body. The thyroid regulates many functions, including:
- Body weight
- Heart rate
- Muscle strength
- Cholesterol levels
- Body temperature
- Menstrual cycles
Research shows that one in eight women are likely to develop thyroid problems in their lifetime. Women are more likely than men to develop thyroid problems, especially right after pregnancy and after menopause.
Your pituitary gland signals to the thyroid to produce two hormones: T3 and T4. When your thyroid releases too little of T3 and T4, your metabolism slows down. This can result in unintended weight gain.
Having too little T3 and T4 is a condition called hypothyroidism. In addition to weight gain, other symptoms of hypothyroidism include:
- Chronic fatigue
- Feeling cold
- Dry skin
- Menstrual irregularities
You may also experience symptoms of depression.
When your pituitary gland signals to the thyroid gland to produce too much T3 and T4, your metabolism speeds up. The symptoms of hyperthyroidism include:
- Increased heart rate
- Excessive sweating
- Heart palpitations
- Menstrual irregularities
Because of the increased metabolism, you may unintentionally drop weight.
How your thyroid affects other hormones
If your thyroid isn’t functioning properly, it also affects your other hormones as well. This can impair your daily functions and overall health.
T3 sensitizes your other hormones, like your luteinizing hormone (LH.) LH stimulates your ovaries to release eggs or your testicles to make sperm. Without this hormone, you may experience problems with infertility and low sex drive.
Cortisol is the stress hormone, which blocks the production of estrogen and testosterone. Without these hormones, you may also have a low sex drive and difficulty with conception. This is one reason that keeping your stress levels under control is so important.
Cortisol also regulates your adrenal gland, which produces vital hormones like adrenaline, DHEA, and aldosterone. These hormones respond to how well you react to internal and external sources of stress. If your stress hormones are out of control, you are more likely to overreact to minor sources of stress.
Estrogen is heavily linked to thyroid function. When your estrogen declines around menopause, it is often accompanied by an increase in thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH.) This imbalance can lead to hypothyroidism.
Making sure your thyroid is working properly is an important step if you have other health problems. Having a working thyroid gland is essential to your good health. Contact Dr. Leo Kao at Lakewood Ranch Health today or request an appointment online.