Just because women are eight times more likely to develop thyroid disease doesn?t mean men aren?t at risk. They are, and the symptoms of an underperforming thyroid can be different from women?s symptoms. Often, however, doctors misdiagnose or don?t even consider that a man?s problems could be from an underactive thyroid, so men suffer needlessly wondering if they will always feel tired, depressed, and disinterested in sex.
The Thyroid Gland
The thyroid is located in the neck, behind and below the Adam?s apple, wrapped around the windpipe. It?s often described as having a butterfly shape. Because the thyroid produces hormones that affect every cell in the body, a poorly functioning thyroid can inflict more harm to someone?s health than almost all of the other individual hormone-producing glands combined.
The thyroid has a role in:
- Controlling weight gain and loss
- Maintaining muscle integrity
- Preventing illness
- Maintaining heart and arterial health
- Metabolizing the food we eat, serving as the catalyst for absorption and nutrient release
- Regulating the other hormones in the body
- Managing body temperature
- Managing gastro-intestinal health and regularity, among many other things
- Clearly, a healthy thyroid plays a big part in overall health.
- The Symptoms of an Underperforming Thyroid
- While symptoms can be similar between men and women, the following are more common in men:
- Muscle loss, versus weight gain
- Loss of strength overall
- Diminished libido
- Premature balding and body hair loss
Too often, doctors will attribute these symptoms to ?aging? and be unwilling to look deeper. Men should not allow their doctors to convince them not to take action. The earlier thyroid disease is diagnosed, the less damage that?s done and the sooner the patient will begin to feel like himself again.
T3, T4, and the TSH Test
The thyroid produces several hormones, but two of them are critical to the overall functioning of the human body:? triiodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine (T4). The thyroid works in concert with the hypothalamus and the pituitary gland. If any one of these isn?t functioning properly, the body suffers. The hypothalamus releases a hormone that tells the pituitary gland to release the TSH ? Thyroid Stimulating Hormone. It?s the TSH that revs up the thyroid, causing it to release its hormones, T3 and T4. However, T3 isn?t a hormone directly produced by the thyroid. It?s created by converting the T4 hormone. This means T4 is not useful to the body in its raw, unconverted state; it must become T3 to be available to the cells. In order to make enough T3, our bodies create large quantities of T4. If a man?s body isn?t able to convert the T4 into T3 in adequate amounts, thyroid imbalance occurs and a hypothyroid state ensues.
Doctors frequently order a standard hormone test called the ?TSH Test? when thyroid issues are suspected. This simple blood test measures the available TSH hormone released by the pituitary gland. If the test finds this hormone to be in the ?normal? range, it?s assumed the thyroid is working properly and no correction is needed. However, if the test finds the hormone is above normal ranges, it?s taken as a signal that the pituitary is working overtime trying to stimulate the thyroid into T4 production.
Seeing this, doctors may prescribe any one of a variety of synthetic thyroid hormones, and then monitor the dosage until the TSH blood test again reflects a normal range. Unfortunately, synthetic hormones are comprised of mainly T4 hormones, not T3. If the patient can?t convert T4 adequately to T3 to begin with, he is no better off than before. He now has a blood test that says he?s in the normal range (based on the TSH reading) even when the chances are great he?s not.
In Part 2 of A Silent Problem –
Hypothyroidism in Men,?
I?ll explain further tests that can more precisely identify thyroid dysfunction and natural (not synthetic) alternatives to supplementation that support thyroid health more efficiently and effectively provide real relief. If you or someone you know can?t wait for Part 2, give my office a call at (636)278-6561 to schedule an appointment.
Medicine Shoppe Pharmacy
505 Salt Lick Rd.,
St Peters, MO 63376