Weight Gain Is Often One Of The First Signs Of Hypothyroidism
Weight gain is perhaps one of the first noticeable symptoms of hypothyroidism in patients. This is related to a slower than normal metabolism. Your metabolism is responsible for converting calories into energy when the process slows down, your body doesnt use the extra calories and then stores them as fat.
The weight gained in hypothyroidism isnt sudden. Youll gradually notice mild to moderate weight gain. You may also find losing weight more difficult, or perhaps you gain weight despite diet and exercise. On top of that, you may also feel bloated from hypothyroid-related constipation.
Surgical Removal Of Part Or All Of The Thyroid
When surgeons remove part of the thyroid, the remaining part may produce normal amounts of thyroid hormone. But some people who have this surgery may develop hypothyroidism. Removing the entire thyroid always results in hypothyroidism.
Surgeons may remove part or all of the thyroid as a treatment for
- a large goiter
- thyroid nodules, which are noncancerous tumors or lumps in the thyroid that can produce too much thyroid hormone
- small thyroid cancers
You Feel Like You Are About To Get A Cold
A drop in thyroid hormones might trigger cold-like symptoms: sudden shivers, cold hands and feet, or a swollen throat.
Thyroid hormones help maintain body temperature, and you especially need optimal levels when transitioning between warm and cold temperatures. A swollen throat occurs when the thyroid tries to overcompensate for a lack of hormones.
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Getting A Diagnosis And Treatment
Together with a physical exam and medical history, diagnostic tests are necessary to determine if you have a thyroid problem.
Your doctor may order blood tests to detect the levels of the hormones TSH, T4 and T3 in your blood, which can indicate hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism. You may also need to take a thyroid antibody blood test, which can help diagnose underlying autoimmune diseases that can cause hormonal imbalances.
Some people may also need an ultrasound. This scan uses sound waves to take pictures of the thyroid gland and can identify thyroid nodules that may be affecting thyroid function.
If you are diagnosed with a thyroid problem, know that there are treatments available. Many people take medications to balance their hormones, while some may need thyroid surgery or radioiodine therapy. Being proactive is critical to your thyroid health, so share your concerns, ask questions and partner with your care team to find a treatment plan that works for you.
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Signs Your Thyroid Isn’t Working Right
Thyroid hormones affect everything from your brain to your bowels.
At least 30 million Americans have a thyroid disorder and half15 millionare silent sufferers who are undiagnosed, according to The American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists. Women are as much as 10 times as likely as men to have a thyroid problem, says integrative medicine specialist Robin Miller, MD, co-author of The Smart Woman’s Guide to MidLife & Beyond.
Located above the Adam’s apple, your thyroid produces thyroid hormone , which regulates, among other things, your body’s temperature, metabolism, and heartbeat. Things can start to go wrong when your thyroid is under- or over-active. If it’s sluggish, it produces too little TH amped-up and it produces too much. What causes your thyroid to go haywire? It could be genetics, an autoimmune attack, pregnancy, stress, nutritional deficiencies, or toxins in the environment, but experts aren’t entirely sure. Because of thyroid hormones far reach in the bodyfrom brain to bowelsdiagnosing a disorder can be challenging. Here’s how to tell if your thyroid could be on the blink.
Too little thyroid hormone coursing through your bloodstream and cells means your muscles aren’t getting that get-going signal.
“Fatigue is the number one symptom I see,” says Dr. Miller. “It’s the kind of fatigue where you’re still tired in the morning after a full night’s sleepthat’s a clue that you’re not simply sleep deprived your thyroid may be underactive.”
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Signs Of Thyroid Trouble
Untreated thyroid disorders can lead to serious health complications
The American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists estimates that 30 million Americans have some kind of thyroid disorder. Thats a surprising number but even more startling is that up to 50 percent of people with thyroid disease arent even aware that they have it.
Such nonspecific symptoms are often easy to ignore, but the consequences of postponing diagnosis and treatment can be serious: Over the long term, untreated thyroid issues can lead to health complications ranging from an increased risk of osteoporosis to cardiovascular issues.
Overdoses Or Underdoses Of Vitamins
In many cases, a lack of nutrition is what leads to diseases. In the case of thyroid problems, overdoses are also a common factor to take into consideration. Here are some common vitamin over- and underdoses that lead to thyroid issues:
Yes, you need iodine for hormone production, and a lack of it can also cause thyroid problems. But did you know that consume an excess of 400 mcg of iodine per day can lead to many complications, including to the thyroid?
For the thyroid to carry out its peroxidase function healthily and positively, it needs iron. Without it, thyroid hormones cannot be synthesized, and iron-deficiency anemia opens up the door to many different diseases, too.
· Vitamin A
Vitamin A is capable of binding to the hormone receptors in the thyroid, increasing one kind of hormone but not the other, more desirable one. You can lose as much as two-thirds of your thyroid hormones by not paying attention to vitamin A!
The thyroid needs selenium to convert certain types of hormones to others. This nutrient helps to protect against autoimmune diseases and also works to encourage healthy thyroid function. A deficiency may lead to hypothyroidism.
The more selenium you take, the more chromium you excrete. As such, its a good idea to keep an eye on your daily intake of this lesser-known vitamin.
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What Are Thyroid Nodules
A thyroid is a swelling in one section of the thyroid gland. The nodule may be solid or filled with fluid or blood. You may have just one thyroid nodule or many.
Thyroid nodules are common and affect four times as many women as men. Researchers do not know why nodules form in otherwise normal thyroids.
Knowing When To Check Your Thyroid
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What Are The Complications Of Hypothyroidism
Hypothyroidism can contribute to high cholesterol. If you have high cholesterol, you should get tested for hypothyroidism. Rarely, severe untreated hypothyroidism may lead to myxedema coma, an extreme form of hypothyroidism in which the bodys functions slow to a life-threatening point. Myxedema coma requires immediate medical treatment.
Your Muscles Are Acting Up
Muscle twitching, cramping, and pain can be signs of hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism. They can also indicate your electrolytesmainly calcium and sodiumare out of balance.
If you feel sudden and intense muscle pain when you havent done any strenuous physical activity, it might be because your thyroid function has changed.
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Do You Have Thyroid Symptoms With Normal Lab Results
According to the American Thyroid Association, 12+ percent of the U.S. population will develop a thyroid condition. An estimated 20 million Americans have a thyroid disorder or disease. As many as 60 percent of those affected are unaware of their condition. Women are affected by thyroid disorders more often than men.
If you tell your doctor you are concerned about thyroid problems, he or she will probably order a lab test. But what if the test comes back negative, yet your symptoms persist? Lets say you cant lose weight, always feel tired, and just feel terrible in general. You and your doctor are probably baffled by your normal thyroid blood test results.
Some thyroid problems cause symptoms without showing up on the standard thyroid panel. For example, you may be symptomatic but cant detect the issue because your thyroid labs are in the normal range? If so, you may suffer from a less common thyroid disorder or thyroid-related dysfunction.
Your Thyroid Does Change As You Age
As with any organ, your thyroid may start to function differently as you get older.
Thyroid dysfunction generally occurs in either early adulthood or between the ages of 40 to 50, Lee said. As we get into our 70s, TSH naturally increases, meaning that your thyroid hormone levels may shift to be a little lower. This seems to happen to protect our bodies as we age, with less stress on our heart and metabolic system.
This is important to note, Lee said, because it gives physicians a greater threshold to treat someone who is older who may have higher TSH levels. Alternatively, low TSH levels can be more harmful the older we get.
This isnt to say that if youre young, you dont need to think about your thyroid at all. Thyroid disorders can happen at many different ages, as can lumps.
We do know that the younger population, those in their 20s, 30s and 40s, can develop thyroid nodules, Rao said. The vast majority of these nodules, especially if theyre below one centimeter, are 95% of the time completely benign. But its still important to be aware that they are there, and periodically monitor them.
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The Most Common Signs Of A Thyroid Disorder
There are two main reasons you and your doctor might want to start monitoring your thyroid. First, any family history of thyroid conditions, such as thyroid nodules, means you should keep an eye on yours as well. Additionally, it might be wise to do an exam if youre feeling an array of confusing symptoms where you just cant pinpoint the exact problem.
Fatigue, feeling cold or hot all the time, hair loss, sudden weight gain or loss, palpitations, diarrhea, or issues with your menstrual cycle can all signal a thyroid issue, said Sun Lee, an assistant professor of medicine at Boston University School of Medicine, endocrinologist at Boston Medical Center, and member of the American Thyroid Association. The two main classifications of thyroid problems are hypothyroidism, where the gland is underactive, or hyperthyroidism, where its overactive. However, there can be other issues as well.
People often dont think they have a thyroid issue because the symptoms are thought of as synonymous with aging, said Cheryl Rosenfeld, managing partner of North Jersey Endocrine Consultants in Denville, New Jersey, and a member of the American Association of Clinical Endocrinology.
Many people pass off fatigue, weakness, loss of memory, dry skin or hair loss as expected effects of getting older, Rosenfeld said. However, it is important to rule out thyroid disease as a cause of these symptoms first.
What Are Clinical Trials For Hypothyroidism
Clinical trialsand other types of clinical studiesare part of medical research and involve people like you. When you volunteer to take part in a clinical study, you help doctors and researchers learn more about disease and improve health care for people in the future.
Researchers are studying many aspects of hypothyroidism, such as
- understanding how the disease progresses, its clinical presentation, and genetics
- investigating how effective and safe levothyroxine is for people with chronic kidney disease
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What Is Hypothyroidism
The thyroid is a small, butterfly-shaped gland that drapes across the front of your windpipe.
If you place your fingers on the sides of your Adams apple and swallow, youll feel your thyroid gland sliding under your fingers.
It releases thyroid hormone, which controls the growth and metabolism of essentially every part of your body.
The pituitary, a tiny gland in the middle of your head, monitors your physiology and releases thyroid-stimulating hormone . TSH is the signal to the thyroid gland to release thyroid hormone .
Sometimes TSH levels increase, but the thyroid gland cant release more thyroid hormone in response. This is known as primary hypothyroidism, as the problem begins at the level of the thyroid gland.
Other times, TSH levels decrease, and the thyroid never receives the signal to increase thyroid hormone levels. This is called secondary hypothyroidism.
Hypothyroidism, or low thyroid, can cause a variety of signs and symptoms. This article will help you recognize and understand these effects.
Here are 10 common signs and symptoms of hypothyroidism.
Who Should Be Tested
If you think you have symptoms of a thyroid problem, ask your doctor if you should be tested. People with symptoms or risk factors may need tests more often. Hypothyroidism more frequently affects women over age 60. Hyperthyroidism is also more common in women. A family history raises your risk of either disorder.
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Can I Check My Thyroid At Home
You can do a quick and easy self-exam of your thyroid at home. The only tools you need to do this self-exam are a mirror and a glass of water.
To do the thyroid self-exam, follow these steps:
- Start by identifying where your thyroid is located. Generally, youll find the thyroid on the front of your neck, between your collar bone and Adams apple. In men, the Adams apple is much easier to see. For women, its usually easiest to look from the collar bone up.
- Tip your head back while looking in a mirror. Look at your neck and try to hone in on the space you will be looking once you start the exam.
- Once youre ready, take a drink of water while your head is tilted back. Watch your thyroid as you swallow. During this test, youre looking for lumps or bumps. You may be able to see them when you swallow the water.
Repeat this test a few times to get a good look at your thyroid. If you see any lumps or bumps, reach out to your healthcare provider.
Can Thyroid Disease Cause Problems Getting Pregnant
Both hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism can make it harder for you to get . This is because problems with the thyroid hormone can upset the balance of the hormones that cause ovulation. Hypothyroidism can also cause your body to make more prolactin, the hormone that tells your body to make breastmilk. Too much prolactin can prevent .
Thyroid problems can also affect the . Your periods may be heavier or irregular, or you may not have any periods at all for several months or longer .
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Muscle And Joint Problems
This is one of the most common problems of thyroid diseases, but at the same time one of the least known. People with hypothyroidism, regardless of age or sex, often experience persistent joint and muscle pain. It is such an acute discomfort that we may be misdiagnosed, such as fibromyalgia.
However, this symptomatology usually reduces significantly with treatment. Also, people with thyroid problems often develop carpal tunnel syndrome, as well as plantar fasciitis.
For their part, people with hyperthyroidism usually show pain and weakness in the arms and legs.
What Is Postpartum Thyroiditis
Postpartum thyroiditis, or inflammation of the thyroid after giving birth, affects 10% of women. It often goes undiagnosed because symptoms are much like the “baby blues” that may follow delivery. Women with postpartum thyroiditis may feel very tired and moody.
Postpartum thyroiditis typically happens in two phases, though not everyone with the condition goes through both phases:
- The first phase starts 1 to 4 months after giving birth and typically last 1 to 2 months. In this phase, you may have because the damaged thyroid leaks thyroid hormones out into the bloodstream.
- The second phase starts about 4 to 8 months after delivery and lasts 6 to 12 months. In this phase, you may have because the thyroid has lost most of its hormones or because the immune attack is over and the thyroid may recover later.
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What Should I Expect After A Partial Thyroidectomy
Tell your healthcare providers if you have difficulty breathing or swallowing. Tell them if your bandage feels like it is getting tighter. You will have blood tests to check your calcium and thyroid hormone blood levels.
- Medicine may be given to bring your thyroid hormone level back to normal. A partial thyroidectomy means your thyroid gland can produce some thyroid hormone. You may need to take medicine daily to keep your thyroid hormone level steady. You may be given pain medicine after surgery. Radioactive iodine may be given if your thyroid gland was removed because of cancer. This medicine may kill cancer cells that were not taken out during surgery.
- Deep breathing helps open air passages and prevent a lung infection. Slowly take a deep breath and hold the breath as long as you can. Then let your breath out. Take 10 deep breaths in a row every hour while awake. You may be asked to use an incentive spirometer to help you with this. Put the plastic piece into your mouth and slowly take a breath as deep and as long as you can. Hold it as long as you can. Then let your breath out.
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