Prof. Dr. med. Verena Briner, FRCP at the Swiss medical centre at Waldhotel Health & Medical Excellence.
Sometimes you can’t put your finger on what is wrong because your symptoms are vague, yet in so many ways you don’t feel yourself. Maybe your mind is foggy, your body sluggish, you are irritable and putting on weight.These may be indicators of impaired thyroid function and it’s time to get that ‘endocrine organ’ checked.
WHAT IS MY THYROID?
The thyroid is a butterfly shaped gland at the front of the lower neck. It produces T3 and T4 hormones which regulate the body’s growth development. Most organs are influenced by thyroid hormones, accelerated or slowed down: cardio-vascular, pulmonary, gastro-intestinal, neuro-muscular systems and also lipid and carbohydrate metabolism. So a balance of the hormones from the thyroid is vital to your overall health.
WHO SUFFERS FROM THYROID ISSUES?
Whilst both men and women suffer from thyroid issues, research shows rates are higher amongst women. Women are also prone to ignoring many of the symptoms, such as interrupted sleep and loss of hair and skin condition, as they confuse them with common hormonal changes as they age. Critically, women may even ignore thyroid issues during pregnancy which if not treated can affect foetal development. Yet the checks are simple if pursued and the medical treatment is easy.
HYPER AND HYPO THYROIDISM
There are two thyroid issues, underproduction and over production. If T3 and T4 are low, this is called hypo thyroidism.
Iodine deficiency is the number one cause of an under-active thyroid. As ever a balanced diet is key to wellbeing and preventive care, iodine is found in dairy and fish products. In many countries salt is supplemented with iodine because the levels in sea salt are not sufficient to cover the daily iodine requirements.
For sufferers of hypothyroidism synthetic hormones are prescribed. Symptoms may present benign nodules or a goiter, where the thyroid gland swells at the base of your neck. Other symptoms are felt but not seen, such as constipation and tiredness but gaining weight with an underproductive thyroid is another visible symptom. This can be very stressful with serious effects on the sufferer’s self-confidence, especially when they’re struggling to slim down and they are simultaneously experiencing a lack of energy. To cap it all people are often met with a lack of empathy on thyroid induced weight gain.
If the body is overproducing hormones, this is termed hyper thyroidism, several treatment options are available: surgery, radiotherapy or anti-thyroid medication. Symptoms such as weight loss, heart flutters and sleep disruption can be rebalanced within weeks.
The Waldhotel Health & Medical Excellence, Switzerland screens thyroid function by measuring TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone a sensitive marker of thyroid function) in the blood as a standard element in their preventative care Check-up Programme. In this three-day programme, whilst you live in splendid style on a Swiss mountainside, experts will conduct a full health review. Including, among other clinical and laboratory checks: nutritional balance, ECG and stress test, pulmonary function and energy metabolism.
Such a comprehensive health check will identify potential issues, putting you on the right path for prevention and health. Meanwhile you will have spent three extremely relaxing and healthy days surrounded by nature’s beauty.