HomeEditor PicksHow To Tell If You Have Thyroid Disease

How To Tell If You Have Thyroid Disease

Recovery From Another Illness

How to know if you have a thyroid problem

If you’ve recently been hospitalized due to a serious or chronic illness that’s not related to your thyroid, it’s possible that your TSH level is just temporarily elevated due to the illness.

Examples of these non-thyroidal illnesses include:

  • Gastrointestinal diseases such as gastroesophageal reflux disease , peptic ulcer disease, and Crohn’s disease
  • Pulmonary diseases like chronic obstructive;pulmonary disease;, lung cancer, and chronic bronchitis
  • Cardiovascular diseases such as heart failure, coronary heart disease, and peripheral arterial disease
  • Kidney disease
  • Inflammatory diseases like rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis , and systemic lupus erythematosus
  • Heart attack
  • Bone marrow transplantation

If your doctor thinks your elevated TSH level may be due to recovery from a non-thyroidal illness, here’s what the plan may look like:

In all cases, you’ll likely have your TSH and free T4 levels tested again in four to six weeks after you’ve completely recovered from the illness.

What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of Autoimmune Thyroid Disorders

You may have a goiter that feels like a lump on your neck. You may also have signs and symptoms of one or both conditions:

  • Hyperthyroidism:
  • Tremors and a fast heartbeat
  • Weight loss and hunger, even after you eat
  • Eyes that bulge
  • Weakness, muscle aches, or joint aches
  • Dry, flaky skin or thin and brittle fingernails or hair
  • Changes in your voice, such as hoarseness
  • Sudden weight gain
  • Sleepiness or problems thinking clearly
  • Slow heartbeat or trouble breathing
  • Part 1 Of 2: Knowing When To Check Your Thyroid

  • 1Monitor for symptoms of hypothyroidism. Hypothyroidism is the condition where you have an underactive thyroid. All forms of hypothyroidism can be caused by viral infections, radiation damage, some medications, pregnancy, and other rarer causes. Symptoms of an underactive thyroid include:XResearch sourceXTrustworthy SourceMayo ClinicEducational website from one of the world’s leading hospitalsGo to source
  • Severe and constant fatigue
  • Changes in the menstrual cycle
  • Constipation
  • Disturbed sleep cycle, such as wanting to sleep all the time
  • Intolerance to cold
  • Muscle weakness
  • Unexplained weight gain or difficulty losing weight
  • 2Watch for symptoms of hyperthyroidism. Hyperthyroidism is the condition where you have an overactive thyroid. This condition can be a result of Graves disease, tumors, thyroiditis , thyroid nodules, and some medications.XResearch source Symptoms of an overactive thyroid include:XResearch source
  • Rapid heart rate or palpitations
  • Increased respiratory rate
  • Frequent and loose bowel movements or diarrhea
  • Fine hair that may be falling out
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Nervousness, irritability, a feeling of high energy
  • Anxiety or panic attacks
  • Sweatiness
  • Reddish skin which may be itchy
  • 3Understand the symptoms may be due to another condition. Remember that many of these symptoms are not specific to thyroid disease. Determine if you have multiple symptoms, or just a few. If you are unsure, go to your physician for tests.XResearch sourceXResearch source
  • Recommended Reading: How Long Does It Take To Get Thyroid Test Results

    How Does Thyroid Disease Affect Pregnancy

    Pregnancy-related hormones raise the level of thyroid hormones in the blood. Thyroid hormones are necessary for the baby’s brain development while in the womb.

    It can be harder to diagnose thyroid problems during pregnancy because of the change in hormone levels that normally happen during pregnancy. But it is especially important to check for problems before getting pregnant and during pregnancy. Uncontrolled hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism can cause problems for both mother and baby.

    Hyperthyroidism that is not treated with medicine during pregnancy can cause:

    • Premature birth
    • a serious condition starting after 20 weeks of pregnancy. Preeclampsia causes high blood pressure and problems with the kidneys and other organs. The only cure for preeclampsia is childbirth.
    • Thyroid storm
    • Fast heart rate in the newborn, which can lead to heart failure, poor weight gain, or an enlarged thyroid that can make it hard to breathe
    • Low birth weight
    • Miscarriage

    Do You Have A Hidden Thyroid Problem

    How To Tell If You Have A Thyroid Disorder

    The thyroid gland, found in the neck, is a bit of a miracle worker. The hormones it produces manage our metabolism and organ function, and directly affect body functions such as heart rate, cholesterol levels, body weight, energy, muscle contraction and relaxation, skin and hair texture, bowel function, fertility, menstrual regularity, memory and mood, says naturopath Natasha Turner, author of The Supercharged Hormone Diet.

    Unfortunately, the gland doesnt always work as its supposed to. If it stops producing enough hormones or produces too much it can affect the whole body. Read on to find out what symptoms you might be experiencing, and what to do about them.

    What does a thyroid problem mean?

    Without enough thyroid hormones, every system in the body slows down, says Turner. Hypothyroidism, or underactive thyroid disease, causes a variety of symptoms and they vary in everyone. Those who suffer from hypothyroidism feel tired and tend to sleep a lot, says Turner. They can also experience extremely dry skin, hair loss, even slower mental processes, says Turner. Their digestion is slow and weight gain typically occurs.

    While these symptoms can happen to anyone for a variety of reasons even just a change of seasons Turner recommends visiting your doctor for a blood test if you experience two or more of the following symptoms:

    What causes thyroid problems?


    Recommended Reading: How To Lose Weight With Underactive Thyroid And Menopause

    Hashimotos Disease And Hypothyroidism

    The most common cause of hypothyroidism is Hashimotos disease. Its an autoimmune disorder, meaning that the bodys own immune system attacks the thyroid and causes inflammation. This prevents the thyroid from making enough hormones, causing hypothyroidism.;

    Hashimotos disease often runs in families, and it affects women more than men. People with other autoimmune diseases are also more likely to get Hashimotos disease.

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    If You Have A Symptom Of Hypothyroidism Should You Be Worried

    The most common hypothyroid symptoms are fatigue, cold intolerance, constipation, slower metabolism, and dry skin, while more surprising signs may be a slower heart rate, joint and muscle pain, and dry or puffy skin, says;Gregory Dodell, MD, assistant clinical professor of medicine, endocrinology, diabetes, and bone disease at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City. Some people might experience one symptom but not the others.

    Another possibility is having multiple symptoms with different causes. For instance, fatigue could be related to a;mental health;condition, while a slower heart rate may be hypothyroid related.

    Recommended Reading: Do Thyroid Problems Cause Weight Gain

    Other Causes Of Hyperthyroidism

    Hyperthyroidism can also result from thyroid nodules. These are lumps that develop inside the thyroid and sometimes begin producing thyroid hormones. Large lumps may create a noticeable goiter. Smaller lumps can be detected with ultrasound. A thyroid uptake and scan can tell if the lump is producing too much thyroid hormone.

    Who Is At Risk For Thyroid Cancer

    How to know if you have thyroid disease

    About three times as many women get thyroid cancer as men. The number of women with thyroid cancer is also going up. By 2020, the number of women with thyroid cancer is expected to double, from 34,000 women to more than 70,000 women.

    Thyroid cancer is more common in women who:

    • Are between the ages of 25 and 65
    • Had radiation therapy to the head or neck, especially in childhood, to treat cancer
    • Have a history of
    • Have a family history of thyroid cancer

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    Trouble Concentrating Or Remembering

    Many patients with hypothyroidism complain of mental fogginess and trouble concentrating. The way this mental fogginess presents itself varies by person.

    In one study, 22% of low-thyroid individuals described increased difficulty doing everyday math, 36% described thinking more slowly than usual and 39% reported having a poorer memory .

    In another study of 14 men and women with untreated hypothyroidism, the participants showed difficulty remembering verbal cues .

    The causes for this are not yet fully understood, but difficulties in memory improve with treatment of low thyroid hormone .

    Difficulties in memory or concentration can happen to everyone, but if they are sudden or severe, they could be a signal of hypothyroidism.

    Summary: Hypothyroidism can cause mental fogginess and difficulty concentrating. It may also impair certain kinds of memory.

    What To Do If You Think Your Thyroid Is Off

    If you suspect that your thyroid could be off, ask your doctor for a test or to refer you to someone that can test you. Some doctors will only check for TSH but according to Blanche, TSH alone is not enough to rule out potential thyroid dysfunction.

    “Ask to check a complete thyroid panel: TSH, T4, T3, free T4, free T3, reverse T3, TPO ab, Anti-thyroglobulin, and a thyroid ultrasound,” Blanche suggests.;

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    What Is Hashimotos Disease

    Hashimotos disease is an autoimmune disorder;that can cause hypothyroidism, or underactive thyroid. Rarely, the disease can cause hyperthyroidism, or overactive thyroid.

    The thyroid is a small, butterfly-shaped gland;in the front of your neck. In people with Hashimotos disease

    • the immune system;makes antibodies;that attack the thyroid gland
    • large numbers of white blood cells, which are part of the immune system, build up in the thyroid
    • the thyroid becomes damaged and cant make enough thyroid hormones

    Thyroid hormones control how your body uses energy, so they affect nearly every organ in your bodyeven the way your heart beats.

    What Are The Kinds Of Autoimmune Thyroid Disorders

    How to Know If You Have Hashimoto

    Autoimmune thyroid disorders can cause hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism. Hyperthyroidism is when the thyroid gland makes too much thyroid hormone. Graves disease is the most common kind of autoimmune hyperthyroidism. Hypothyroidism is when the thyroid gland does not make enough thyroid hormone. Hashimoto thyroiditis is the most common kind of autoimmune hypothyroidism.

    Also Check: What Does It Mean When A Thyroid Nodule Is Solid

    Radioactive Iodine Uptake Test

    A radioactive iodine uptake test, also called a thyroid uptake test, can help check thyroid function and find the cause of hyperthyroidism. The thyroid takes up iodine from the blood to make thyroid hormones, which is why this is called an uptake test. Your health care professional may ask you to avoid foods high in iodine, such as kelp, or medicines containing iodine for a week before the test.

    For this test, you will swallow a small amount of radioactive iodine in liquid or capsule form. During the test, you will sit in a chair while a technician places a device called a gamma probe in front of your neck, near your thyroid gland. The probe measures how much radioactive iodine your thyroid takes up from your blood. Measurements are often taken 4 to 6 hours after you swallow the radioactive iodine and again at 24 hours. The test takes only a few minutes.

    If your thyroid collects a large amount of radioactive iodine, you may have Graves disease, or one or more nodules that make too much thyroid hormone. You may have this test at the same time as a thyroid scan.

    Even though the test uses a small amount of radiation and is thought to be safe, you should not have this test if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.

    Thyroid Hormone Resistance And Also Disorder Of Thyroid Hormone Transport Or Metabolism

    These are conditions that are rare and very difficult to diagnose properly.;In these conditions sometimes because of genetic variation your body might become resistant to thyroid hormone.;This is similar to what we see in Type II Diabetes where the body becomes resistant to the lin hormone.

    The second condition is where there is a problem with either too high levels of thyroid binding protein or low levels of thyroid-binding protein.;The thyroid hormone in the bloodstream is present in the bound form.;Thyroid hormone is bound to thyroid binding protein, so if there is a significant difference in the levels of these thyroid-binding proteins it can interfere with optimal levels.;Some of this condition is attributable to high cortisol levels and also is estrogen levels .;;

    Also Check: How Long Can You Have Thyroid Cancer Without Knowing

    Your Digestion Is Out Of Order

    While constipation might be a sign of a lack of hormones, diarrhea might occur with an excess amount of hormones.

    Digestion is tightly connected to the immune system, but that doesnt always mean insufficient hormone levels are the reason for your current digestive issues.

    Problems with digestion could be because your immune system is reacting to your;diet, stress, or a;lack of vitamin D. Whatever it is, if your gut is upset, the medication you take will not be absorbed properly. This means less of it will;end up in your bloodstream;and be available to the different organs, which causes more symptoms of hypothyroidism.

    What Imaging Tests Do Doctors Use To Diagnose And Find The Cause Of Thyroid Disease

    SYMPTOMS OF HASHIMOTOS DISEASE | How To Know If You Have a Thyroid Autoimmune Disease

    Your health care professional may order one or more imaging tests to diagnose and find the cause of thyroid disease. A trained technician usually does these tests in your doctors office, outpatient center, or hospital. A radiologist, a doctor who specializes in medical imaging, reviews the images and sends a report for your health care professional to discuss with you.

    Recommended Reading: What Kind Of Doctor Tests Thyroid

    Favorite Hypothyroid Symptom App

    Unlike other smartphone apps that focus on your health more generally, Boost Thyroid includes specific measurements related to your thyroid health. Not only can you include your T4 and T3 levels after your blood work, but this free app has you track your symptoms, lifestyle, and supplement intake. Such data can be significant when reading it against your lab work, so we suggest showing your doctor the app and your tracking information to see how your symptoms may correlate with your current treatment plan. Download it on Google Play or the App Store.

    Tsh Thyroid Stimulating Hormone

    TSH is the hormone that tells your thyroid to make more thyroid hormone. Heres how it works.

    Your hypothalamus is like the thermostat for thyroid hormone it keeps watch on how much thyroid hormone is in your bloodstream, and it responds when you need more. When your level drops too low, it releases TRH, thyroid releasing hormone. Your pituitary gland picks up on TRH, and it releases TSH in response.

    Does it test thyroid function? Well, yes, but only if your hypothalamus and pituitary are doing their thing. The stops on the signaling pathway can get messed up for various reasons. Any problems with detecting hormone or releasing hormone at any point in the cascade, and the TSH test becomes worthless.

    TSH Optimal range: 0.5-2 IU/L

    High TSHHigh TSH indicates youre hypothyroid. Since its a signaling hormone, high TSH indicates that your body detects low hormone, so its turning up the volume on the signal to make more. If your thyroid isnt or cannot respond because its compromised in some way, youll produce more and more TSH. This number can really go off the charts, depending on how low you are and how long youve been hypothyroid.

    Low TSHLow TSH tells you that you have too much thyroid hormone, or that you can cut your dose of thyroid medication, so it indicates hyperthyroid. Certain thyroid medications can suppress your TSH, so if you dont have symptoms youre still in good shape.

    Recommended Reading: Why Thyroid Cancer Is On The Rise

    What Are 10 Things You Can Do To Improve Your Thyroid Function

    1. Make sure you are taking a high quality multivitamin with Iodine, Zinc, Selenium, Vitamin D, and B vitamins.

    2. Go gluten-free! If you have Hashimotos, try going completely grain and legume free.

    3. Deal with your stress and support your adrenal glands. The adrenal glands and thyroid work hand and hand. I recommend restorative yoga and adaptogenic herbs which support the adrenal glands in coping with stress.

    4. Get 8 to 10 hours of sleep a night.

    5. Have a biological dentist safely remove any amalgam fillings you may have.

    6. Watch your intake of raw goitrogens. There is a bit of a debate surrounding this.

    7. Get fluoride, bromide and chlorine out of your diet and environment.

    8. Heal your gut. A properly functioning digestive system is critical to good health.

    How To Heal Your Gut Naturally with Dr. Amy Myers

    9. Find a functional medicine doctor in your area and have them run the above laboratory test and work with you to find your root cause of the thyroid imbalance.

    Getting Your Blood Drawn

    Thyroid Issues? Check Out Your Eyes!!

    Thyroid tests require a blood sample. If you order your blood tests online, or if your doctor writes a requisition for thyroid hormone testing, you have to schedule an appointment at a laboratorys draw center, like with Quest Diagnostics or LabCorp, or at an independent draw center like AnyLabTest. You can also have a mobile phlebotomist take your blood sample in the privacy of your home. A nurse or phlebotomist will access one of your veins, usually just below the elbow, withdrawn enough blood into one or more glass tubes, and process the sample for shipment to the laboratory for testing. On average, your results will be ready in less than one week.;

    Get your TSH and other thyroid tests done in the morning. Afternoon values tend to be lower. Dont take supplements or other medications the morning of your blood draw because they can interfere with the test results. A fasting test is best, so skip breakfast. And dont take your thyroid hormones until after your blood draw.;

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    Hyperthyroid Medication And Treatment

    When you have too much thyroid hormone, there are a few ways to tackle it.

    Anti-thyroid medication. Anti-thyroid medication keeps your thyroid from making hormone.

    Radioactive iodine. The thyroid absorbs iodine, but the rest of the body doesnt. So, by using radioactive iodine, you can selectively damage thyroid cells with radiation, and prevent them from making hormone. The damage is permanent. The risk is going overboard, causing an underactive thyroid and requiring a lifetime of thyroid medication.

    Surgery. You can get all or part of the thyroid gland removed. Or, the surgeon could remove an active nodule that secretes hormone.

    On an episode of Bulletproof Radio ,; I talked with thyroid expert Dr. Izabella Wentz, PharmD, about her protocol. She focuses on building the bodys natural resilience by zeroing in on natural defense systems, like the liver.

    I started thinking about what are the fundamentals of healing for each person. What are the things that just about everybody can do to make themselves feel better regardless of what their root cause is, because every Hashimotos patient is like a snowflake, everybodys got a slightly different story. But supporting our own bodys natural protective defenses, supporting the liver, helps to build resilience, because now, were no longer toxic to everything.

    Getting your body working properly might help your thyroid work again, or lessen your medication.

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