The thyroid gland is a butterfly shaped gland found in the neck. It produces hormones and sends them out into the bloodstream to help control our growth and metabolism. An inflamed thyroid, known as thyroiditis, can cause abnormally high or low levels of the thyroid hormone in the blood, which can affect your heart rate, temperature as well as how our body converts food into energy.
Common causes of thyroiditis
There are several different causes of an inflamed thyroid gland. Here are the most common:RELATED: RECOMMENDED PLANS FOR YOU
Hashimoto’s, an autoimmune condition, which causes the immune system to attack the thyroid gland and makes the gland inflamed and swell. Over time, the inflamed thyroid gland is slowly damaged, which means it can’t produce enough of the thyroid hormone. This causes hypothyroidism, or an underactive thyroid.
Postpartum Thyroiditis, also an autoimmune condition, happens after child birth–usually within 6 months. Postpartum thyroiditis causes a temporary rise in the thyroid hormone and an overactive thyroid. After a few weeks it normally becomes depleted and then gives symptoms of an underactive thyroid. Although some women do suffer with hypothyroidism permanently, most cases will return to normal within 12 months.
De Quervain’s (Subacute), an inflamed thyroid gland normally caused by a viral infection. This has the opposite effect to Hashimoto’s, and causes the thyroid to release too much thyroid hormone into the blood, and therefore symptoms of hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid). An inflamed thyroid can also be caused by medication which damages the thyroid, a radioactive treatment (for hyperthyroidism or certain cancers) or a bacterial infection.
Diagnosis and Treatment
Symptoms include pain in the throat, feeling generally unwell and a swelling of the thyroid gland. Sufferers may also have symptoms of an overactive or underactive thyroid gland.
Overactive, symptoms include a fast or irregular heartbeat, feeling trembly or shaky, unexplained weight loss, feeling hot and sweating excessively and mood swings. Underactive, symptoms include unexplained weight gain, feeling cold all the time (especially hands and feet), extreme tiredness, depression and brain fog.
Treatment at your GP’s will normally be medication such as Beta blockers for hyperthyroidism and thyroid replacement hormone for those suffering with hypothyroidism. There are ways to deal with it naturally through diet and lifestyle changes.
How to manage thyroid problems naturally
Eat plenty of fruit and vegetables
The antioxidants and nutrients from them help to support and heal the body as well as reducing inflammation. If struggling to swallow them, steam produce to make it softer.
Avoid goitrogenic foods
Soy, gluten and cruciferous vegetables such as spinach and kale can block thyroid function, so they should be avoided while suffering with an inflamed thyroid.
Ensure getting important nutrients for thyroid function
Iodine and zinc from fish, preferably oily for the Omega-3 content. Eat mackerel, salmon, herring and sardines 2-3 times a week. Selenium helps support thyroid function and can be found in brazil nuts and whole grains. Iron, found in spirulina, spinach, beans and lentils also supports the thyroid. Ensure you also have some fruit or vegetables rich in vitamin C to aid absorbency.
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