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Research indicates that an estimated 59 million Americans suffer from some form of thyroid dysfunction, though most of them are entirely unaware of the fact that they are afflicted with the condition. Thy thyroid is a crucial gland found in the neck and is responsible for the proper functioning of a variety of the body’s systems. Improper functioning of the thyroid may result in obesity, depression, overwhelming fatigue, infertility and a broad range of other health issues.

There are two main types of thyroid dysfunction: hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism. Both types of dysfunction result in similar symptoms, and the symptoms experienced may be quite different from one individual to another. The most common are listed here.

Pain or Swelling in the Neck

In some cases, the area of the neck in which they thyroid resides may become enlarged and tender. If the swollen gland presses on the vocal cords, the voice may gradually become raspy and it may prove slightly uncomfortable to speak.

Changes in Skin and Hair

Both hair and skin can become thin, dry and fragile in the event of a thyroid problem. Hair loss may be noticed early on, particularly around the eyebrows and temple area, though excessive loss of hair anywhere on the head is certainly cause for concern. Conversely, hair may grow thick and course.

Intestinal and Bowel Issues

Constipation and irritable bowel syndrome, which includes diarrhea and irregularity, are common complaints of patients suffering from thyroid dysfunction.

Difficulty in Losing Weight

Those with hypothyroidism often find that regardless of diet and exercise programs, they are unable to lose weight. Unusual weight gain and the inability to shed pounds may point toward a problem with the thyroid. Adversely, those suffering from hyperthyroidism may notice weight loss without an apparent cause and have difficulty gaining weight.

Due to stress or hormone dysfunction, sometimes the initial screening with a test called a TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) may be misleading. People may have normal levels of TSH and still have reduced or suboptimal thyroid function.

Fortunately, holistic and alternative treatments exist for treating thyroid dysfunction. Patients suffering from these and similar symptoms are able to receive quality care for their condition from medical professionals at Advanced Integrative Physicians.

Roger Spahr, M. D.

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