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What Causes a Thyroid Disease?

Illustration demonstrating how antibodies attack the thyroid gland

What Causes a Thyroid Disease?

The thyroid is responsible for regulating a variety of body systems. When the thyroid hormone levels are not optimal, a thyroid disease develops. The main types of thyroid disease are hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism, Graves’ Disease, and Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. While a diagnosis can assist in treating the condition, many patients wonder what causes thyroid disease to begin with.

What Is a Thyroid Disease?

The term thyroid disease refers to a thyroid gland that is not functioning properly. Since the thyroid produces hormones that are essential to the entire body, a thyroid disorder can significantly impact a patient’s quality of life. A thyroid that produces too much hormone leads to hyperthyroidism, while a thyroid producing too little hormone leads to hypothyroidism. 

In hyperthyroidism, energy is burned too quickly and heart rate increases, which results in fatigue, anxiety, and unintended weight loss. The opposite of hyperthyroidism is hypothyroidism, when the thyroid does not produce enough hormone, and leaves a patient feeling tired, intolerant to heat or cold, and can lead to weight gain or difficulty losing weight.

What Is the Cause of Thyroid Disease?

There are a number of underlying conditions that can cause hypo- and hyperthyroidism. The most common causes include:

  • Thyroiditis – an inflamed thyroid gland
  • Hashimoto’s thyroiditis – an autoimmune condition where the immune system is activated to attack the thyroid
  • Iodine deficiency – iodine is essential for thyroid function
  • Thyroid gland dysfunction – a congenital defect that affects up to 1 in 4,000 newborns

The most common causes of hyperthyroidism include:

  • Graves disease – characterized by an enlarged thyroid gland that overproduces hormones
  • Nodules – thyroid nodules and goiters produce excessive amounts of thyroid hormones
  • Thyroiditis – hormones stored in the thyroid are released
  • Too much iodine – the thyroid may start over producing hormones when there is too much iodine in the system, which may be caused by certain medications, like cough syrup and amiodarone

Treating Thyroid Disease

Surgery, radiation, and medication are the most common conventional treatments for thyroid disease. Some patients find that these treatments are effective, but others struggle with their condition even after undergoing conventional treatments that address isolated symptoms. The goal of functional medicine is to find and treat the root cause of thyroid disease, rather than treating just the symptoms. 

Here are a few of the most common thyroid disease treatment methods that are commonly used in functional medicine:

Improve Gut Health

A diet rich in fiber, probiotics, vitamins, and minerals will play an important role in addressing thyroid disease. To help improve gut health and enhance the gut flora, some functional medicine doctors will recommend taking a probiotic supplement in addition to dietary changes.

Eat a Clean Diet

Your diet should consist primarily of fresh, whole foods such as leafy greens, fruits, vegetables, healthy fats like avocado and olive oil, and organic, grass-fed protein.

Reduce Inflammation

By staying away from inflammatory foods such as refined oils, processed foods, refined sugar, fast food, gluten, conventional dairy products, and foods that you are sensitive to, you can help restore balance to your body and minimize inflammation.

Limit Toxicity

Our modern lifestyles are filled with toxic materials that make their way into our bodies every day. Rather than using toxic products in your home, opt for healthy, organic alternatives for your makeup, personal care products, cleaning products, clothing, and detergents. Use non-toxic materials like glass instead of plastic containers, and try to get outside more often to get some fresh air and spend more time in nature.

Fight Hidden Infections

Stress can trigger an autoimmune thyroid condition triggered by infections lying dormant in the body. Your functional medicine doctor can help identify and treat underlying infections so that your thyroid and other systems are not at risk of further complications.

Exercise Regularly

When you are feeling unwell, it can be difficult to exercise regularly. Luckily, you can support your health with just 20-30 minutes of exercise a few times a week. You can stretch throughout the day, take a walk in the park, or get outside and do some gardening or yard work to get the blood pumping.

Manage Stress

Stress management is crucial to a healthy immune system. Meditation, journaling, breathwork, and spending time in nature all help to reduce stress and boost the immune system.

Get Enough Sleep

We often overlook the impact that our sleep habits have on our health. You should try to get 7-9 hours of sleep each night and try to stick to a regular sleep cycle by going to bed and waking up at the same time every day.

If you suffer from thyroid disease and do not find relief from conventional treatments, it may be time to consider functional medicine. The team at Novis Health Phoenix specializes in treating hypothyroidism through natural methods and lifestyle changes. Relief is possible!

Reach out to Novis Health in Phoenix to find out how functional medicine can help you overcome your thyroid disease.

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