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Archive for the ‘Thyroid’ Category

I have been diagnosed with hypthyroidism, and I just want to share what I have learned over the 15 years of living with this challenge!

Weight gain and hair loss due to thyroid disorder

Posted by rhondascooking on July 20, 2011

I was one of the 8 million people who suffered with many problems, and didn’t know what was going on. What was this problem that allowed me and others to walk around not noticing any differences in our health thus remaining undiagnosed–the culprit was Thyroid Disease! There are more than 20 million people suffer from a thyroid disorder, and of that number more than 10 million women have low-grade thyroid imbalance. So, how did I find out I had a problem? A family friend saw me during holiday break and told my mom that I needed to have my thyroid checked because my eyes looked bigger than normal. Though I was really offended at the time, her guess was correct! I had hyperthyroidism for months and never knew it!

What is thyroid?
The thyroid is a gland that sits in the neck and is shaped like a butterfly.

Is the thyroid gland important?
The main function of the thyroid gland is to produce thyroid hormone, which regulate the functioning of the body including regulating mood, emotions, and many other brain functions. In fact, this gland controls the body’s metabolism; specifically it controls the amount of energy the body burns.

What happens if there is a problem with my thyroid gland?

If the thyroid gland is not performing correctly, there are two most common problems, which are as follows:
1. Hypothyroidism (Hashimoto’s thyroiditis)–this occurs when there is not enough thyroid hormones thus causing the thyroid to become underactive; according to many studies this affects about 10 percent of the population and is the most common cause of an underactive thyroid.

2. Hyperthyroidism (Graves’ disease)–this occurs when there is an excess of thyroid hormones thus causing the thyroid to be overactive.

What are some of the obvious signs of a thyroid problem?
Both hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism have different signs or symptoms. The following are a few signs to make note of:

Hypothyroidism: weight gain, tiredness, increased sleepiness, hair loss including loss of eyebrows, joint pain, constipation, forgetfulness, decreased ability to pay attention and focus, cold intolerant, depression, dry skin, etc.

Hyperthyroidism: weight loss, Fatigue, shakiness, increased bowel movement, restlessness, warm intolerant, rapid heartbeat, anemia, increased sweating, irregular menstrual periods, decreased fertility

Is thyroid disease hereditary?
Thyroid disease is an autoimmune disorder, and there is a high percentage that it could be hereditary, but it is not always the case. There could be other factors that trigger this disease and it differs for everyone.

Is there a way to find out if my thyroid gland is okay?
If you are uncertain about whether your thyroid is not properly functioning, please make an appointment with your general physician and ask to have your thyroid levels checked. This is not traditional tested in the yearly physical exams, it is only ordered if necessary or upon patient request. If your thyroid levels indicate that you are hypo or hyperthyroid active, then please make an appointment with an endocrinologist, a doctor who specializes in the endocrine system which includes the thyroid gland, or a naturopathic doctor who specializes in thyroid disorders.

I am writing this post not to scare you, but instead to give you information with the intent of you being proactive about your health. If you have more questions, please post a comment!  You can also send me comments via Twitter and Facebook.

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Posted in Diet, Health, Thyroid | Tagged: , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Fine Needle Aspiration – Thyroid Biopsy

Posted by rhondascooking on November 29, 2010

My doctor asked me to take an ultrasound guided biopsy due to the discovery of a nodule in my right lobe.  Because I didn’t know much about this procedure at that time, I had no idea that this test could not be done in a lab, but instead it had to be done at a hospital as out patient surgery!   WOW, it’s just a test, right?  Well, after going through this test, it really is more than just a test.  An ultrasound guided biopsy is a technique that is performed with a fine needle and guided by ultrasound–is is called guided FNA (Fine Needle Aspiration).  When this test is performed, the goal is to analyze any nodules and to withdraw cells to determine whether they are cancerous or not.

How does the FNA biopsy work?

Under conscious sedation or basic numbing medicine, a fine needle is inserted in your throat, directly into the nodule, which is located in the thyroid.  An ultrasound device is used to determine the location of the nodule so that the doctor will find the exact location of the nodule. Then cells are extracted and placed on a slide for evaluations.

(NOTE: Because I did not have anyone to drive me home in the middle of the day, and the fact that I spoke with a nurse a few days prior about what to except, I decided to not have conscious sedation done. Instead I decided to treat this process as if I was at the dentist office having a root canal done! There is very little to no pain!)

How to prepare for the FNA biopsy?

  1. Work with your doctor to find a hospital (or clinic) that does this sort of biopsy and then schedule the appointment.
  2. Find out from the hospital scheduler/nurse all of the required documentations/tests that are needed prior to the biopsy.  Ask the following questions:
      Is additional blood work required?
      Do I need to bring a copy of the ultrasound film?
      Do I need to fast prior to the biopsy? 
      How long will the procedure take?
      What numbing procedure is used for this biospy–basic numbing medicine or conscious sedation?
      Will I be immediately released after the procedure or will I be monitored for an hour or so?
      When will I be able to eat?
      Will there be any soreness?
  3. Follow out patient instructions after the biopsy.

Posted in Health, Thyroid | Tagged: , , , , , | 4 Comments »

Are you getting enough Vitamin D?

Posted by rhondascooking on November 27, 2010

In addition to eating a healthy, balanced nutritious diet, taking the proper amount of vitamins and minerals are also equally important.  In fact, vitamins and minerals work with nutrients to help the body function properly such as converting carbohydrates, fats and proteins produce energy.[1] There are many vitamins and minerals with different purposes and it is important to at least take a multivitamin to meet the recommended daily amount.  Vitamin D is important for both men and women because it helps deposit calcium in ones bones and protects against bone disease.  As people age, after age fifty, the need for Vitamin D doubles!

Vitamin D is also important for people who struggle with thyroid disease.  After speaking with my doctor about my thyroid issues (not functioning properly), she ordered an exam to determine my Vitamin D and magnesium levels.  She indicated that there had been studies performed that indicated that Vitamin D is necessary for many thyroid patients, especially those diagnosed with hypothyroid disease…like myself! Moreover, according to Mary Shomon, author of Living Well with Hypothyroidism”, Vitamin D appears to be necessary in order for the pituitary gland to produce thyroid hormone, as well as in supporting  the enzyme to convert T4 (inactive thyroid hormone) into T3 (the active type).[2]

After reviewing the test results with my doctor, I learned that I was in fact deficient in Vitamin D!  I had forgotten that in 2005 I stopped drinking milk and consuming many of the foods that had Vitamin D. Thank goodness for good doctors! Immediately, she gave me Vitamin D liquid drops, as well as tweaked my compounded thyroid medication.  Within a month, my hormones started bouncing back into place!!  I was in shock; I was beginning to feel normal again!

How much Vitamin D do you need?

    1. Birth to Age 50: 200 IUs
    1. Ages 51 – 69: 400 IUs
    1. Age 70 and up: 600 IUs
  • Where can you get Vitamin D?  Salmon, tuna, fortified foods such as milk, juice, whole grain breakfast cereals, supplements, etc. Also, Vitamin D is made by the body after sunlight hits the skin, but one should limit this exposure time to about 10 to 15 minutes twice weekly. (NOTE: If you’re vegan like myself, I recommend that you purchase the Vitamin D liquid drops and speak with your healthy practitioner regarding the appropriate dosage amount for you.)


    [1] Duyff, Roberta Larson. Complete Food and Nutrition Guide. John Wiley & Sons, Inc.: New Jersey. 2006.

    [2] Shomon, Mary J.  Living Well With Hypothyroidism. HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.: New York. 2000.

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    What?! I have a nodule in my thyroid!

    Posted by rhondascooking on November 15, 2009

    As I have said countless time to many of my friends, family members and fellow followers, this darn thyroid dilemma is indeed a roller coaster ride!!  Just when I thought I was about to come to the end of the ride, I see a huge hill that I have to go up before the ride ends.  Normally I am an amusement park fanatic–I LOVE roller coasters, the bigger they are the better!  However, this thyroid roller coaster is not as exciting as the “Goliath” at Six Flags Magic Mountain!

    As you have read in my previous posts, I was diagnosed with a thyroid disorder in December 1994; several people noticed physical change in my eyes, but I didn’t see any changes prior to that time.  So, after the diagnosis, I have been up and down, and changing from obese to overweight…it’s just been draining. A year after the diagnosis had the radioactive iodine treatment (RAI), then I was in a normal state for 5 years–that’s where I began to have lots of stress in my life.  And from that moment onwards, it’s been a roller coaster ride that has not come close to the end!

    What’s the latest update?

    On October 30, 2009, I learned that I had a nodule in my thyroid after having a basic ultrasound done.  I was surprised, but for years, I didn’t even know that I still had much of a thyroid since I had the RAI treatment.  I was told that after taking that treatment, that I would have very little thyroid left.  Well, after reviewing the results with my doctor, I learned two things: 1) My right thyroid lobe is almost a normal size, and 2) I had a nodule almost the size of the right thyroid lobe!  These two results were shocking to say the least!  What the heck happened?  How could I have had any thyroid left after having the RAI?!  Because I never had any further analysis/tests performed on my thyroid since the RAI procedure 14 years ago, I can’t say weather or not I had the nodule then or if it just started growing over time.  Why in the world haven’t other doctors tested me over the 14 years?  This makes no sense to me because I have been complaining about my thyoid being out of whack for the last ten years!!!  Crazy, huh?!  The following are my results.

    • Normal thyroid size (according to a health blog post): average size ranges between 3 to 4 cm in height, 1 to 1.5 cm in width and 2 to 3 cm in depth
    • My thyroid size:  Left lobe (0.4 x 0.7 x 1.5)cm and Right lobe (1 x 1.1 x 3.1)cm
    • My nodule size (found in right lobe): (0.8 x 1.1 x 1.2)cm in diameter

    So what’s next for me?

    My doctor wanted me to have an ultrasound guided biopsy to further explore the nodule and to determine if it has any cancer cells.  When I heard this I was like hold on, let me make sure that my seat belt is still on because I was getting ready to go down the large hill on my roller coaster ride!  I had no idea what to expect.  Heck, I didn’t even know what an ultrasound guided biopsy was, so I had to do my research.  I turned to the Internet and my books from Mary Shomon, Author of Living Well with Hypothyroidism and Founder of thyroid-info.com website, to learn some basic information about this procedure.  This test is basically a needle biopsy called Fine Needle Aspiration (FNA) that is guided by ultrasound to help find the correct position of the nodules and analyze them. OMG, a needle in my throat?!  What in the world is going on!

    Stay tuned for my biopsy experience and my results.

    Follow me on twitter: @rhondapeters, @rhondascooking

    To learn more about the thyroid and Mary Shomon’s work visit: Thyroid-info, About.com

    Posted in Health, Thyroid | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

    It’s one of those days…life w/hypothyroid

    Posted by rhondascooking on August 4, 2009

    OMG, this morning was one of those darn mornings!!!!!!!!!!! I got up with all intentions of exercising but I was due for a weigh-in prior to the workout. So, I took off all of my heavy garments so I didn’t have any extra stuff adding to the fat, and as I stepped on the scale I was excited because I had been eating well and reducing the late healthy snacking. I knew that I hadn’t exercised in a couple of days, but I hadn’t been eating like a pig either. Well, as I stepped on that scale, confident that I was going to be a few inches closer to my 1 pound loss per month goal, I was surprisingly shocked at what I saw! I gained 1.6 pounds in 5 days!!!!!!! I was UPSET, angry, disappointed and sad. What happened? So, rather than exercising at that moment, I decided to meditate and pray to remain calm and optimistic that I will get better—one day I will loose all of the weight that my body is holding on to due to an out-of-whack thyroid. I felt better, but I did feel the need to post my feelings as a status update on my twitter and facebook page and I did get a few comments confirming the same thing.

    After my sadness, I decided that I will not stress out about this gain, but instead try to remain calm. I think what has been happening is that I have been under quite a bit of stress with my business and volunteer activities. So, rather than stress about my 1.6 pound increase, I am going to keep repeating my affirmations and keep expecting the best in terms of my health! I spoke with Mary Shomon, a thyroid activist and author, over the weekend and she said that it is likely that my adrenals are low and that my body is likely going through other hormonal changes since I am… hmmm, getting older.

    I am waiting on the test results from a recent saliva test and allergy test that I took a week ago. Even though I was calm that day, I would not be surprised if my adrenals where crazy! I’ll share with what happens!

    PART 2: I Survived…
    I survived today and I felt so much better after writing out my feelings and taking a step back to think about life. Of course, my mom had to give me a little shake too to remind of these things. So, as I close out my day to prepare for the next day, I’m feeling great about life despite the setback with this crazy, hormonal, autoimmune disorder!

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    Thyroid and Emotions

    Posted by rhondascooking on March 17, 2009

    I felt the need to touch on this subject because for the last month, my emotions (my mental state) have been all over the place!  I had all sorts of feelings and I know I was getting on my mom and friends’ nerves because I began to complain more, snap more, give up and even question my physical appearance!  In just 1 week after being excited about my new exercise program, I crashed the next week–I stopped exercising because my mind was thinking, “what is the point of killing myself with exercise if I am still gaining weight?!”   Basically, I became emotionally unsteady for sure!  Have you felt this way too? Do you know someone going through something like this too?  Don’t give up on yourself or them! 

    They thyroid imbalance has the potential to cause a person to become depressed.   (I have several books written by numerous doctors to validate my claims–I’ll share that later.)  Though I have been on this journey now for about 15 years, I have cycles too that seem to align with a woman’s cycle of life that throws me off.  I can recall feeling the same way at 30 and then at 35, but because there’s so much time between the two periods sometimes I don’t recognize that my thyroid is off, until I get really low, which by then I am depressed and angry.    I was so depressed and angry that I wasn’t seeing any results that I stopped taking my thyroid supplements.  Yes, I did!  I felt that they weren’t as effective and I was tired of the doctors “trying things”.  After all, I got a Master’s Degree for doing research, I can try things too.  Against my doctor’s wishes, I stopped taking the supplements and he supported me with 1 condition that if I continue to gain weight and get sluggish, I have to start back in a month.  Well, guess what?  I continued to gain weight even with burning 400 – 500 calories 5 days per week with a strict diet!  In 1 month, I gained the 12 pounds that I had lost 2 months prior!!! Now wouldn’t you get depressed on that?!!

    So, I had to remind myself that I do not have a thyroid gland (or I should say that I have very little gland left) because I had the radioactive iodine treatment 14 years ago and I need to take the supplements just so that I can have some thyroid hormones.  I had to stop comparing my situation to every case study that has been done to help folks with this disease.  Most of those patients still had their thyroid gland.  Any rate, though I thought I wasn’t seeing results, the extra thyroid supplements were preventing me from getting worse. 

    So, now I am on my way back up again.  I started back taking compound T4 on March 13th, as well as avoiding foods that could potentially work against the thyroid–foods like cabbage, turnips, strawberries, just to name a few (check out my previous blog on this topic).  I am feeling better and I LOVE myself again!  I will keep myself in check by blogging about my status–it’s therapeutic.   

    If you are feeling similar to my feelings, don’t give up, don’t get depressed or frustrated.  It may not be you, it could be your thyroid imbalance.  If you haven’t been seeing a doctor, please schedule an appointment now.  Everyone needs support when fighting against this disease!  I learned this after 15 years!

    Posted in Health, Thyroid | Tagged: , , , , | 4 Comments »

    My Thyroid Drama!

    Posted by rhondascooking on February 25, 2009

    Okay, I have been dealing with this see-saw game with my thyroid drama since 1994, when I was first diagnosed.  And you know what?  It is FRUSTRATING with a big fat F!  I don’t know if you or one of your loved ones feels the same way as I do, but it makes me sick at times.  One week I am feeling free and fabulous, the weight is in check and I am looking great and the next two weeks, I am feeling sluggish and have put on an additional 3 pounds despite eating all the right things.  What is really going on?  It shouldn’t be this way.  After all, I did have the radioactive treatment back in 1995; I thought it was supposed to eliminate all of this up-and-down crap!  Yes, I am not a happy camper right at this moment and I need to blog about it so that it can make me feel better to know that I am not alone. 

     

    So What Happened? 

    I believe in my personal opinion and from articles that I read that I got this thyroid disease due to my traumatic stress.  After all, I was perfectly fine in college.  When I started my first year in graduate school to work on my PhD in Electrical Engineering, I was stressed out and I was a very long way away from home. After being diagnosed, I was put on PTU and synthroid for a year before going to another doctor who introduced me to the idea of this radioactive iodine (RAI) treatment.  It is an outpatient treatment whereby the doctor gives you a dosage of a radioactive isotope of iodine (I131) for you to drink.  This “cocktail” is interesting to say the least. He said that if I was tired of going round and round that I should just have the procedure.  What he failed to tell me was the percentage of likelihood that it would not work long term.  He said that it could be a chance that I develop hypothyroidism (see my previous blog entry on the basics of thyroid disease, https://rhondascooking.wordpress.com/2008/08/02/do-you-have-a-thyroid-problem/), but he never said how much was that “chance” and because I trusted him, I said okay, let’s just do it!  I later learned from various sources online that it was a 75 – 100% effective, so I guess I represent that small percentage of those that the RAI treatment didn’t work.

     

    What is RAI treatment? 

    According to mythyroid.com, RAI treatment results in destruction of thyroid tissue, there is often a transient period of several days to weeks when the symptoms of hyperthyroidism may actually worsen following radioactive iodine therapy. Many patients are able to tolerate the initial few weeks without any problem whatsoever. Others may not be so successful and will likely become hypothyroid and will continue to have to take meds to manage this!

     

    So, just in case you may be thinking about having it done, PLEASE talk to someone first before deciding to do it.  See what happened to them and then make your decision.  I do have an opinion about it—let’s just say that if I had to do it over again, I would have not selected that option because after about 12 years later, I am back on the see-saw with the up and down, hormonal imbalance.  

     

     

    Sources that discuss the RAI Treatment:

    http://www.cumc.columbia.edu/dept/thyroid/raiprep.html

     

    http://www.mythyroid.com/iodinehyper.html

    Posted in Health, Thyroid | Tagged: , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

    Do You Have a Thyroid Problem?

    Posted by rhondascooking on August 2, 2008

    Major Endocrine System

    Major Endocrine System

    There are many people who walk around everyday and not even know that they have an overactive or underactive thyroid problem. There are more than 20 million people who suffer from a thyroid disorder, more than 10 million women have low-grade thyroid imbalance, and nearly 8 million people with thyroid imbalance remain undiagnosed!1 I was one of those 8 million people who suffered with many problems, but didn’t even know what was going on. It wasn’t until a friend of the family saw me and said that I needed to have my thyroid checked because my eyes looked bigger than normal. Though I was really offended at the time, her guess was correct! I had hyperthyroidism for months and never knew it!

    The thyroid gland sits in the neck and shaped like a butterfly. The main function of the thyroid gland is to produce thyroid hormone, which regulate the functioning of the body and at the same time is a bona fide brain chemical that regulates mood, emotions, and many other brain functions.1 In fact, this gland controls the body’s metabolism; specifically it controls the amount of energy the body burns. When the thyroid gland is not performing correctly, the two most common problems with the thyroid are as follows:

    1. Hypothyroidism (Hashimoto’s thyroiditis)—this occurs when there is not enough thyroid hormones thus causing the thyroid to become underactive; this affects 10 percent of the population and is the most common cause of an underactive thyroid.1
    2. Hyperthyroidism (Graves’ disease)—this occurs when there is an excess of thyroid hormones thus causing the thyroid to be overactive.

    In both cases, the body faces a number of symptoms/problems. For example in the table below there is a list of the most common symptoms for each.

    Hypothyroidism Hyperthyroidism
    General tiredness Fatigue
    Weight gain Weight loss
    Aches and pains in joints and muscles Shakiness
    Constipation Increased frequency of bowel movements
    Increased sleepiness Restlessness
    Brittle hair Brittle nails
    Hair loss, including loss of eyebrow hair Hair loss
    Feeling cold even in warm temperatures Feeling hot and becoming intolerant of warm and hot temperatures
    Depression Eye irritation
    Dry and pale skin Increased sweating & thirst
    Forgetfulness Rapid heartbeat, palpitations
    Mental sluggishness Shortness of breath
    Decreased ability to pay attention and focus Anemia
    Irritability Increased hunger and food consumption
    Seizures Irregular menstrual periods
      Decreased fertility

    Table 1.  Most common symptoms for both hypo- and Hyperthyroidism.1  There are other symptoms.

       
    Since I’m all about food, I must tell you about the foods that are not in your best interest to eat if you have a thyroid imbalance? These foods listed in Table 2 contain a substance called goitrogens, according to research goitrogens suppress the functioning of the thyroid gland by interfering with the iodine uptake.2 The best diet for those of us with a thyroid imbalance is one that includes healthy foods with a low glycemic index such as whole grains, low in fat, low in simple sugars and high in protein.

    Foods to Eat Foods to Avoid
    Whole grains Turnips
    Tuna Cabbage
    Salmon Mustards
    Lean beef Soybeans
    Sunflower seeds Peanuts
    Oatmeal Pine nuts
    Carrots Millet
    Almonds Spinach
    Beans Strawberries
    Leafy green veggies Peaches
    Maple syrup  

    Table 2.  Summary of some foods to eat and to avoid when challenged with a thyroid imbalance.

    I know; I know; what are you going to eat??  Well, there are lots of foods that you can eat and in my upcoming cookbook, I have simple recipes that are excellent for the thyroid.  (Please email info@rhondascooking to put your name on the cookbook pre-order list!)

     

    If you are uncertain about whether your thyroid is not properly functioning, please make an appointment with your general physician and get tested.  If you your thyroid levels indicate that you are hypo or hyperthyroid active, then please make an appointment with an endocrinologist, a doctor who specializes in the endocrine system which includes the thyroid gland.  If you have further questions, please email info@rhondascooking.com.

     

    1Arem, Ridya.  The Thyroid Solution.  New Jersey: The Random House Publishing Group, 2006.

    2“Goitrogen.”  Wikipedia.  July 14, 2008. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Goitrogen>.  July 30, 2008.

    Source: Photo wikipedia.

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