The thyroid, situated below the neck (under the Adam’ apple in men) is an endocrine gland that produces the hormone thyroxine. Almost 80% of thyroxine is converted by peripheral organs like the liver, kidneys and pancreas into its more active form, another thyroid hormone known as triiodothyronine. The thyroid hormones are used by all cells in the body for oxygen consumption, synthesizing proteins, regulating body temperature and growth.
One of the major causes of an increase in the incidence of thyroid problems is autoimmunity, which is affected by the increased toxicity in the environment, food and water. Besides autoimmune thyroid disease, thyroid dysfunction may also be caused due to lack of iodine intake, low level radiation, X-Rays, drug abuse and deficiencies of Vitamin E, A and Zinc. Thyroid disease can play havoc with the manner in which the body metabolizes nutrients. A low thyroid, for example, may lead to an abnormally high level of cholesterol and extreme fatigue.
A thyroid disease is an endocrinal problem that is characterized by production disorders that affect the availability of hormones in the body. Low thyroid is termed as hypothyroidism, which is more common than hyperthyroidism, a thyroid condition characterized by excess production. Also, some thyroid diseases are initially caused due to excess production but convert to hypothyroidism later. This happens either naturally or due to lack of monitoring after administration of exogenous hormones like a thyroid supplement. Fatigue and unexplained weight gain are trademark symptoms of hypothyroidism.
Most women experience extreme fatigue after delivery. This is often erroneously mistaken to be caused by sleep deprivation. Many women develop a condition known as postpartum thyroiditis. This is an autoimmune condition in which the body’s immune system does not recognize disturbances in hormone production and attacks the thyroid gland. Initially, the thyroid becomes overactive and leads to hyperthyroidism, which later converts to a low thyroid function causing weight gain and extreme fatigue.
Hyperthyroidism is often accompanied by heat intolerance, an increase in appetite, weight loss and insomnia. Symptoms of thyroid problem of a low activity are quite the reverse. They include cold intolerance, decrease in appetite, weight gain or inability to lose weight and fatigue.
If you see these symptoms, consult a specialist rather than living under the misconception that all the symptoms that you observe are due to childbirth and the associated late nights alone. A simple thyroid test that involves checking the level of thyrosxine, triiodothyronine and thyroid-stimulating hormones (secreted by pituitary gland) are sufficient for initial analysis. It should also be kept in mind that there are instances where thyroid tests do not reflect thyroid problems and may have to be read in combination with the strength of symptoms.