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How To Tell If Your Thyroid Is Underactive

Favorite Orgs For Essential Hypothyroidism Symptoms Info

How do you know if you have an underactive thyroid?

As leading professionals on all things endocrinology, the physicians and experts from the Endocrine Society offer the latest research and 101 information on hypothyroidism. The Hormone Health Networks overview of hypothyroidism in particular is required reading for the latter, as its overview page offers key intel on how to spot signs of hypothyroidism and receive a prompt diagnosis.

Established in 1913, the American Thyroid Association is one of the oldest-serving organizations dedicated to thyroid health and research. Such extensive expertise informs their page on hypothyroidism, which not only discusses short-term symptoms, but also what you can expect with this condition down the road. Also be sure to check out the ATAs subpages on specific hypothyroid concerns, such as their Thyroid and Weight page, as weight changes are a key concern for people with this thyroid disease.

How Can I Treat A Thyroid Imbalance

Dr. Tates holistic approach to healthcare treats your imbalanced thyroid as an essential part of the entire body rather than an isolated concern. She works to understand the root cause of the imbalance to ensure you receive the best care.

At Grassroots Healthcare, we work to recommend a course of treatment that alleviates symptoms while improving the health of your thyroid. Depending on your symptoms, test results, and health history, Dr. Tate may recommend nutritional supplements, a healthy eating plan, medications, and changes to your lifestyle.

If youre experiencing symptoms of an imbalanced thyroid, the caring team at Grassroots Healthcare in Tulsa, Oklahoma, can help. Schedule your appointment today by visiting us here.

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The Thyroid Function Test

As mentioned earlier, the amount of thyroid hormone in the blood is regulated by the pituitary gland. When levels of T4 drop, the pituitary gland responds by increasing the amount of TSH, which in turn stimulates the thyroid to produce more T4.

So an underactive thyroid can either be indicated by a high reading of TSH, or low levels of T4, or both. Standard NHS thyroid function tests measure both of these. Occasionally, T3 is measured but this isn’t generally considered necessary.

“When it comes to treatment of thyroid deficiency, most doctors are satisfied that giving T4 in the form of levothyroxine sodium is perfectly effective,” says Dr Morrison. “However, some practitioners argue that T3 is stronger and works more quickly, and recommend it for those few patients who don’t appear to respond to T4 alone.

“The relative merits of T4 and T3 have been debated and studied, but the view of the NHS is that there is no convincing evidence for the need of T3, rather than T4.”

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Hashimoto’s Disease And Hypothyroidism

The most common cause of hypothyroidism is Hashimoto’s disease. It’s an autoimmune disorder, meaning that the body’s own immune system attacks the thyroid and causes inflammation. This prevents the thyroid from making enough hormones, causing hypothyroidism.

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

Functions Of Your Thyroid


Thyroid hormones primarily act to regulate the metabolic rate of cells and tissues and thereby are involved in growth, development, reproduction and metabolism. Thyroid hormones also stimulate thermogenesis, thereby helping to regulate temperature.

The function of the thyroid is linked to the central nervous system, cardiovascular system, reproductive system, digestive system, in fact it impacts the entire body.

This can make it challenging as symptoms can be far reaching and as a result very often assigned to another disorder.

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Why You Need To Watch Out For Weight Changes

Your dose of thyroid hormone is based on your weight, although your doctor has to keep an eye on your blood levels because some people have problems with absorption.

Be sure to report a weight gain or loss of 10% or more to your doctor right away, advises Dr. Skugor. This will help you avoid overtreatment or undertreatment.

At the onset of menopause, its frequently necessary to decrease the thyroid dose to avoid overtreatment.

Yet even when youre on the right dose for your weight, you may be getting more thyroid hormone than your body needs. Overtreatment places you at risk of developing heart arrhythmias and osteoporosis, a low bone-mass disorder that leads to easy fracturing. One study even reported that overtreatment is associated with increased cardiovascular risk.

Its important to keep your doctor in the loop of any other changes like starting new medication or feeling your symptoms return or get worse.

Neck Discomfort Or Swelling

Just over 50% of patients in the DanThyr study reported that neck discomfort was a sign of hypothyroidism .

The discomfort can be caused by inflammation of the thyroid glands cells, known as thyroiditis. The gland can actually become smaller or larger , depending on the cause of the disorder.

Hashimotos thyroiditis is actually the most common cause of hypothyroidism, and is most typically described by patients as a sensation of something in the throat.

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Causes: Pituitary Gland Problems

Thyroid disease may begin in the pituitary gland. The pituitary is located at the base of your brain. It controls the functions of many other glands in the body, including the thyroid. This gland produces TSH, which signals the thyroid gland to make thyroid hormones.

If there is a problem with your pituitary and not enough TSH is produced, thyroid problems can result. Inflammation of the thyroid and taking certain medications can also cause low thyroid hormone levels.

The Medication Might Not Resolve Your Symptoms

How to know if you have a thyroid problem

We’re all looking for a magic pill to help us to control our weight, make us feel more alert and stabilise our emotions. But unfortunately, even if your weight problems or tiredness are caused by a thyroid disorder, medication won’t necessarily provide the answer.

Although thyroid disease may be a piece of the puzzle, it’s likely that it is not the butterfly-shaped gland in isolation causing your health concerns.

“Quite often the symptoms don’t just have one cause. Sometimes it’s multifactorial,” explains Khoo. “Although a lot of people come to us with a symptom, believing it to be caused by their thyroid disease, quite often the problem may be caused by a patient’s lifestyle.”

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Are There Any Foods I Can Eat To Help My Hypothyroidism

Most foods in western diets contain iodine, so you do not have to worry about your diet. Iodine is a mineral that helps your thyroid produce hormones. One idea is that if you have low levels of thyroid hormone, eating foods rich in iodine could help increase your hormone levels. The most reliable way to increase your hormone levels is with a prescription medication from your healthcare provider. Do not try any new diets without talking to your provider first. Its important to always have a conversation before starting a new diet, especially if you have a medical condition like hypothyroidism.

Foods that are high in iodine include:

  • Eggs.
  • Edible seaweed.
  • Iodized salt.

Work with your healthcare provider or a nutritionist to craft a meal plan. Your food is your fuel. Making sure you are eating foods that will help your body, along with taking your medications as instructed by your healthcare provider, can keep you healthy over time. People with thyroid condition should not consume large amounts of iodine because the effect may be paradoxical .

Favorite Hypothyroidism Online Support Network

Thyroid Nation

Run by people with hypothyroidism like you, Thyroid Nation is more than simply a thyroid blog. Here, youll learn about thyroid disease management tips, but also connect with peers and comment on their stories. You even have an opportunity to share you own story on the Thyroid Thrivers page. Hypothyroidism can make you feel down, so its important to reach out and socialize you certainly arent alone in your struggles, as the pages Thrivers demonstrate.

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T3 And T4 Interpretations

  • A normal TSH and normal T4 indicates a normally functioning thyroid gland.
  • A low TSH and high T4 generally indicates hyperthyroidism.
  • A high TSH and low T4 indicates primary hypothyroidism .
  • A low TSH and low T4 suggest secondary hypothyroidism .

For diagnostic purposes, a low T3 value accompanied by a high TSH value is considered evidence of hypothyroidism. By contrast, a low TSH value accompanied by a high T3 value is considered evidence of hyperthyroidism.

Symptoms Of Underactive Thyroid

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The symptoms of an underactive thyroid usually develop slowly and gradually. They can be quite vague and can be caused by many other conditions. This can sometimes make it hard to diagnose. You might not get any symptoms at all.

If you do get underactive thyroid symptoms, they may include:

  • putting on weight
  • having less of an appetite for food
  • feeling the cold
  • feeling weak and tired and having no energy
  • a puffy face
  • losing your hair, which may become generally sparse
  • a hoarse voice
  • a slow heartbeat
  • if youre a woman, your periods may be heavy, irregular or stop completely

Having an underactive thyroid can affect your mental health too. You may become forgetful and find it difficult to concentrate. And you might feel emotionally up and down, and become depressed.

If you have any of these symptoms, contact your GP.

With our GP services, we aim to give you an appointment the same day, subject to availability. Find out more about our GP services >

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Feeling Down Or Depressed

Hypothyroidism is linked to depression. The reasons for this are unclear, but it might be a mental symptom of an overall decrease in energy and health .

64% of women and 57% of men with hypothyroidism report feelings of depression. About the same percentage of men and women also experience anxiety .

In one study, thyroid hormone replacement improved depression in patients with mild hypothyroidism, compared to a placebo .

Another study of young women with mild hypothyroidism showed increased feelings of depression, which were also connected to decreased satisfaction with their sex lives (

21 ).

Feeling depressed is a good reason to talk to a physician or therapist. They may be able to help you cope, regardless of whether the depression is caused by thyroid problems or something else.

Summary: Hypothyroidism can cause depression and anxiety. These conditions are shown to improve with thyroid hormone replacement.

Signs And Symptoms Your Thyroid Medication Is Too Low

First things first, let’s talk about how to know if your thyroid medication is working or not.

It’s actually quite simple and once I explain it to you, it will make a lot of sense.

How do you know if your thyroid medication is high enough?

Well, if it is high enough then you will experience NONE of the symptoms of having a low thyroid.

So if you are experiencing ANY remaining low thyroid symptoms then you know right away that your thyroid medication is off.

These symptoms include:

  • Continued dry skin

You’ll notice that I used the term “continued” in the description list and this was by design.


Because the symptoms of low thyroid present with these exact symptoms.

And if your symptoms did NOT go away when you started your thyroid medication then you know that your meds aren’t working.

If you are experiencing ANY of these symptoms AFTER you start taking your thyroid medication then you need to look at the reasons listed below.

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It Probably Isn’t Causing Your Weight Gain

You’ll often find an underactive thyroid gland cited as a cause of weight gain. However, whilst in extreme cases this condition can lead those affected to put on a few more pounds, it’s more likely that weight gain – even in someone with the condition – is down to a number of different factors.

“Most people with hypothyroidism dont gain much weight,” reveals Simon Pearce, professor of endocrinology at the University of Newcastle and member of the Society for Endocrinology.

“For the majority of cases of hypothyroidism, which are rather mild, treating it doesnt affect weight particularly it’s only in the most severe cases.”

“Weight gain has a number of causes,” agrees Dr Bernard Khoo, consultant endocrinologist at The London Clinic. “It’s multifactorial. It’s partly due to what people eat partly it’s our activity levels partly it’s something that you inherit from your parents. It could also be to do with gut bacteria research suggests if you have a low population you can start gaining weight. Finally, poor sleep also plays a part in weight gain.”

Surprising facts about thyroid problems

  • 4min

It Might Lead To Unusual Hair Loss

Thyroid Problems- How Do You Know If You Have A Thyroid Problem?

Whilst both underactive and overactive thyroid conditions can lead to hair loss from the head, an underactive thyroid gland may also cause sufferers to shed hair from their eyebrows.

“The outer part of the eyebrows can become thin in people with thyroid underactivity,” explains Pearce. “Usually people notice hair loss from the head, but not many patients come to seek help for their eyebrows.” However, this hair loss is a fairly common symptom of the condition.

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Complications Of Underactive Thyroid

The symptoms of an underactive thyroid such as physical and mental tiredness and lack of energy can have a serious effect on your day-to-day life. You may find that your quality of life suffers and it affects things like your work life, relationships and social life.

Other complications of underactive thyroid include:

Treatment For An Overactive Thyroid

The treatment for an overactive thyroid depends upon the cause:

  • Many causes of hyperthyroidism will get better on their own.
  • Antithyroid medications, which block the production and release of thyroid hormones, can be used to treat patients with Graves disease or hyperfunctioning nodules.
  • Treatment with radioactive iodine to ablate the thyroid or hyperfunctioning nodules can often be helpful.
  • In some cases, surgery to remove part or all of the thyroid may be indicated.

Patients with an overactive thyroid should see an endocrinologist for the proper diagnosis and treatment.

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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.

How To Check Your Thyroid

Effects of Hypothyroidism: Thinning Hair, Heart Attack and ...

This article was medically reviewed by Ricardo Correa, MD. Dr. Correa is a board certified Endocrinologist. Dr. Correa is the Program Director of the Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism Fellowship at the University of Arizona College of Medicine and was a previous Assistant Professor of Medicine at Brown University. He completed his MD at the University of Panama and completed an internal medicine residency at the Jackson Memorial Hospital – University of Miami. He has been voted one of the 40 Under 40 Leaders in Health by the National Minority Quality Forum in 2019.There are 12 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. This article has been viewed 40,747 times.

The thyroid gland is located at the base of your neck. It is a very important gland that produces a hormone that helps regulate your entire bodys metabolism, temperature, heart rate, growth, and development.XResearch source The thyroid gland can be functionally underactive or overactive. The thyroid can be enlarged, have benign nodules and, more rarely, malignant nodules.

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What Does Your Thyroid Do

The easier question to answer is, what doesnt the thyroid do? Your thyroid secretes hormones that regulate pretty much everything your body does, like:

  • Menstrual cycles
  • Brain function
  • Metabolism

Those are only a few of them. A complete list of everything the thyroid does would have you scrolling for days. Thats why its so crucial that it works, and why it can ruin your life if it doesnt. Too little thyroid hormone and it feels like your whole body is asleep and youre carrying a sack of rocks on your back. Too much, and you feel panicky and turbocharged, not in a good way.

About Dr Peter Osborne

Dr. Peter Osborne is the clinical director of Town Center Wellness in Sugar Land, Texas. He is a doctor of chiropractic and a Board Certified Clinical Nutritionist. His clinical focus is the holistic natural treatment of chronic degenerative musculoskeletal diseases. He is an expert in the relationship that gluten sensitivity and food allergies play in chronic inflammation. He has helped thousands of patients recover from chronic painful conditions.


Heymann, W.R. . Thyroid Disorders with Cutaneous Manifestations. London: Springer-Verlag London Ltd.

Macura, A.B. et al. Nail susceptibility to fungal infections in patients with hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism. Przegl Lek. 2005 62:218-21.

Magee, D.J. . Orthopedic Physical Assessment: Musculoskeletal Rehabilitation Series, Sixth Edition. Missouri: Saunders, an imprint of Elsevier Inc.

Sacchidanand, S. and Savitha, A.S. . Nail & Its Disorders. New Delhi: Jaycee Brothers Medical Publishers Ltd.

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Do You Have Hypothyroidism Look At Your Hands

Our fingernails say so much about our health. It is mind-blowing when you look at the references listed at the bottom of this article the number of conditions of the nails associated with hypothyroidism including Alunula , Onychorrhexis , Beaus Lines , Koilonychia , Onycholysis , Pterygium Unguis , Onychomycosis , Yellow Nail Syndrome, brittleness, slow growth, and thickening.

I first heard Dr. Peter Osborne describe the following common symptoms of hypothyroidism he notices in his patients nails and it got my mind racing. I dove into studies and books to figure out how low thyroid can affect even our nails. What the heck! Not even one part of our body is safe from hypothyroidism.


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