Feeling tired all the time? Gaining weight? It might be time to see your doctor to check your thyroid.
About 1 in 300 people in the United States have an underactive thyroid gland (hypothyroidism). It’s most common in women over the age of 60.
So what is hypothyroidism, what are the symptoms, and how’s it treated?
The thyroid gland located in your neck produces two hormones that manage how the body uses energy. T3 (triiodothyronine) and T4 (thyroxine) help regulate more than weight and energy levels.
They affect body functions such as breathing, heart rate, muscle strength, body temperature, menstrual cycles, and more. Hypothyroidism occurs when the thyroid doesn’t produce enough thyroid hormone to meet the needs of your body.
Weight gain and fatigue are the best-known symptoms of a slow thyroid. But there are others, including:
Since signs of hypothyroid can also be symptoms of other health problems, your doctor will check what’s going on by:
What Causes Hypothyroidism?
Many things can cause a slow thyroid. Here are the most common causes listed in order of frequency:
Less Common Causes of Hypothyroidism include:
If tests show you’ve got hypothyroidism, your doctor will likely prescribe synthetic thyroxine pills to replace the T4 your body isn’t making.
Medicine may change your T3 and T4 levels but hypothyroidism almost never goes away so chances are you will take thyroxin for the rest of your life.
Most people do well on the pills. They do not get in the way of a normal life. You can even take them during pregnancy.
In the Long Run
It can take a while for your doctor to get the dose just right, so make sure you take them as directed. He or she will need to check your TSH level periodically to make sure your taking the right amount of medication.
Be sure your doctors and pharmacist know everything you’re taking. Even supplements can get in the way of thyroid meds. Some foods can, too. A nutritionist can help you figure out if you need to change your diet.