It is estimated that half a million people in Australia and 200 million around the world (mainly women) have some form of thyroid disease. Thyroid dysfunction is usually classified by underactivity (hypothyroidism) or overactivity (hyperthyroidism).
The most common cause of hypothyroidism in Australia is Hashimoto’s thyroiditis (an auto-immune thyroid condition – where your body’s immune system attacks the thyroid gland). Other causes of an underactive thyroid include iodine deficiency (the most common cause worldwide), some medications, extreme stress and adrenal fatigue, thyroid removal or congenital (from birth). Never self-prescribe iodine as it must be accurately and regularly tested to ensure you do not have too much or too little, as both can negatively affect thyroid function.
Many women will have sub-clinical hypothyroidism where tests results come back in the upper half of the ‘normal range’. It is through identifying this issue and optimising thyroid function that a vast majority of women will start to feel much better and experience a marked reduction in symptoms despite being previously told that their thyroid function was ‘normal’.
Symptoms of an underactive thyroid are varied and may include:
When the thyroid becomes overactive, it produces too much thyroid hormone. The most common cause of hyperthyroidism is an auto-immune condition called Graves’ disease. Excessive iodine intake can also result in hyperthyroidism.
Symptoms of an overactive thyroid may include: