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What Is It Called When Your Thyroid Is Underactive

You Probably Don’t Have It

How a thyroid gland can become underactive

You may well have a number of symptoms connected with thyroid disease, but according to the British Thyroid Foundation in the UK only 5% of people have the condition.

The issue with the disease is that many related symptoms are more likely to have a different cause.

“Usually, with all the various symptoms, thyroid is towards the bottom of the list of possible causes,” explains Khoo. “In fact, the vast majority of people who believe they have an underactive thyroid because of something they’ve read on the internet won’t have the condition.”

The only conclusive test for this condition is a blood test, so if you are concerned, speak with your GP to see whether your symptoms warrant additional investigation.

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.

What Are The Symptoms Of An Underactive Thyroid

The most common underactive thyroid symptoms include:

Underactive thyroid symptoms are similar to other conditions and can develop over time, so you might not notice them for years.

If you experience any underactive thyroid symptoms, you should see your GP for advice. If an underactive thyroid is left untreated, it can lead to an increased risk of heart disease.

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When Tsh Alone Is Not Enough

During diagnosis, most healthcare providers use the TSH test to evaluate thyroid function and determine the optimal course of treatment. There are times, however, when knowing one’s TSH may be insufficient.

For instance, free T4 in addition to TSH is usually tested if a healthcare provider suspects thyroid dysfunction due to disease of the pituitary gland or hypothalamus.

Likewise, if the TSH is normal, but a person still has symptoms of being hyperthyroid or hypothyroid, free T4 may be checked.

TSH is also not necessarily sufficient to monitor hypothyroidism during pregnancy T4 and free T4 are often recommended.

Depending on the clinical situation, other thyroid tests that may be done include , free T3, reverse T3, and thyroid antibody tests.

How Does Eating Diet And Nutrition Affect Hashimotos Disease

Thyroid Disorders

The thyroid uses iodine, a mineral in some foods, to make thyroid hormones. However, if you have Hashimotos disease or other types of autoimmune thyroid disorders, you may be sensitive to harmful side effects from iodine. Eating foods that have large amounts of iodinesuch as kelp, dulse, or other kinds of seaweed, and certain iodine-rich medicinesmay cause hypothyroidism or make it worse. Taking iodine supplements can have the same effect.

Talk with members of your health care team about

  • what foods and beverages to limit or avoid
  • whether you take iodine supplements
  • any cough syrups you take that may contain iodine

However, if you are pregnant, you need to take enough iodine because the baby gets iodine from your diet. Too much iodine can cause problems as well, such as a goiter in the baby. If you are pregnant, talk with your doctor about how much iodine you need.

Researchers are looking at other ways in which diet and supplementssuch as vitamin D and seleniummay affect Hashimotos disease.2 However, no specific guidance is currently available.3

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What Is An Underactive Thyroid

Underactive thyroid is also called hypothyroidism. This name refers to a condition where the thyroid gland fails to produce enough thyroid hormone. The gland is small and is located at the base of the throat. It is controlled by the pituitary gland, which releases something called thyroid stimulating hormone . When the thyroid gland detects TSH, it releases two different thyroid hormones called thyroxine and triiodothyronine. Sometimes the gland doesnt produce enough of one or both of these hormones and this results in hypothyroidism.

Symptoms of having an underactive thyroid gland can be varied. They frequently include tiredness, fatigue, and weight gain not explained by diet. Other symptoms like easily breakable fingernails, depression, very heavy menstrual periods, and extra sensitivity to cold can also be present.

An extremely underactive thyroid gland may result in loss of mental acuity and in some people, it may look early onset Alzheimers. Alternately some people lapse into coma due to extremely low blood pressure. In most cases, people receive treatment for underactive thyroid gland long before this occurs because they may feel like they are constantly under the weather and exhausted.

Xiv Slow Down When Eating

The thyroid gland is found in the throat region, and so it connects your body and mind. When you eat in a hurry, food moves quickly from the mouth to the stomach, faster than the connection of the brain to the body.

The mouth isnt aware of what the stomach is doing. So, before you eat, sit down, breath slowly and chew comfortably.

As aforementioned, the thyroid controls most metabolism, and so, eat slowly, so that the mind can record what is entering your stomach.

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Feeling Sad And Depressed

Mental health conditions such as acute stress, depression, and anxiety are associated with underactive thyroid. However, changes in hormonal levels caused by these factors are highly debatable.

It is because not all patients experience these signs. It appears as if the feeling comes as a result of the many unmanaged underactive thyroid symptoms accumulated for a long time to make life much worse.

Lab Testing For Your Thyroid

Hypothyroidism | Under-Active Thyroid | What All Patients Need to Know

Looking at your thyroid gland via imaging doesnât usually give you any information about the FUNCTION of the thyroid gland.

The function of your thyroid gland is very important because it relates to how well your thyroid is able to produce thyroid hormone.

Any change to the ability of your gland to produce thyroid hormone will result in very specific symptoms that are too big to be ignored and these symptoms will often drive people into the Doctors office for evaluation.

Fortunately, many conditions that result in thyroid gland enlargement usually do not interfere with thyroid hormone production.

Some conditions, such as Hashimotoâs thyroiditis, cause both thyroid gland enlargement AND thyroid hormone issues.

Because of this each and every patient with a known or suspected thyroid gland issue should undergo thyroid function testing with blood tests.

To test your thyroid function you will need the following tests:

  • TSH â This will help you understand if your brain is talking to your thyroid gland.
  • Free T3â This is the most important thyroid hormone in your body and is responsible for the majority of thyroid cellular activity/
  • Free T4â This is the most abundant thyroid hormone in your body and is important because it acts as a reservoir for T3 thyroid hormone.
  • Thyroid Antibodiesâ The presence or absence of thyroid antibodies can help you understand if you have an autoimmune disease or if your body is attacking your own thyroid gland.

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Can Hypothyroidism Be Prevented

Hypothyroidism cannot be prevented. The best way to prevent developing a serious form of the condition or having the symptoms impact your life in a serious way is to watch for signs of hypothyroidism. If you experience any of the symptoms of hypothyroidism, the best thing to do is talk to your healthcare provider. Hypothyroidism is very manageable if you catch it early and begin treatment.

How Are Hypothyroidism And Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis Diagnosed

To diagnose hypothyroidism and Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, doctors ask about a person’s symptoms, do an exam, and order blood tests. The tests measure:

  • Thyroid hormone levels, particularly thyroxine and thyroid-stimulating hormone . T4 is the thyroid hormone made in the thyroid that works throughout the body. TSH is a hormone made in the pituitary gland . More TSH is released into the blood when the brain and pituitary sense that the levels of thyroid hormone in the blood are too low. TSH stimulates the thyroid to work harder to make more thyroid hormone.
  • Some antibodies . High levels of these antibodies in the blood are a sign that the gland is being attack by the immune system in Hashimoto’s. The two antibodies commonly measured are thyroglobulin antibodies and thyroid peroxidase antibodies .

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It Might Lead To Unusual Hair Loss

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.

What Complications Can Occur With Underactive Thyroid

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If left untreated, underactive thyroid can give rise to complications like high cholesterol and blood pressure, chest pain and circulatory problems. Cardiac problems, goiter, hypothermia and myxedema coma are other health problems which a hypothyroidism patient can encounter. Untreated underactive thyroid during pregnancy can increase the risk of birth defect, miscarriage, stillbirth, premature birth, developmental issues, etc. All these complications can be avoided if timely treatment is given as advised by the specialist.

Final Take

Now you are aware of what happens if you have an underactive thyroid, so you can be alert. There is no known way of preventing an underactive thyroid, but with accurate diagnosis and timely treatments this illness can be managed effectively. By eating a balanced diet, following a healthy lifestyle, taking daily medications and engaging in a regular exercise regime, one can easily maintain optimal thyroid levels in their body. Knowing the underactive thyroid symptoms is important, which if present, you can seek medical opinion for timely diagnosis and treatment.

Written, Edited or Reviewed By:Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc.This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimerLast Modified On: June 20, 2018

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Milder Forms Of Hypothyroidism Are Harder To Diagnose

Although the majority of cases of hypothyroidism will be easy to diagnose with these simple blood tests, many millions of people will have this disease in mild to moderate forms which are more difficult to diagnose. The solution for these patients is more complex and this is due to several factors.

First, we must realize that not all people with hypothyroidism are the same. There are many degrees of this disorder from very severe to very mild. Additionally, and very importantly, we cannot always predict just how bad an individual patient will feel just by examining his or her thyroid hormone levels. Blood levels have normal ranges, but other factors need to be taken into account as well, such as the presence or absence of symptoms.

In other words, some patients with what would be considered mild deviations in their thyroid laboratory test results will feel just fine while others will be quite symptomatic. The degree of thyroid hormone abnormalities often, but NOT ALWAYS, will correlate with the degree of symptoms.

It is important for both you and your physician to keep this in mind since the goal is not necessarily to make the lab tests go into the normal range, but to make you feel better as well! We must also keep in mind that even the normal thyroid hormone levels in the blood have a fairly large range, so even if a patient is in the normal range for the general population, it may not be the normal level for them.

Discomfort And Swelling Of Your Neck

The swelling or pain of the neck is one of the major symptoms of underactive thyroid. The reason for the pain is due to the inflammation of the cells that make up the thyroid glands. The condition is called thyroiditis.

Also, the gland may grow larger or smallera condition is known as goiter, but this depends on the cause of the condition.

The most common cause of underactive thyroid is the Hashimotos thyroiditis. Patients with this condition usually complain of an object in the throat.

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How Does Eating Diet And Nutrition Affect Hypothyroidism

Your thyroid uses iodine to make thyroid hormones. However, if you have Hashimotos disease or other types of autoimmune thyroid disorders, you may be sensitive to iodines harmful side effects. Eating foods that have large amounts of iodinesuch as kelp, dulse, or other kinds of seaweedmay cause or worsen hypothyroidism. Taking iodine supplements can have the same effect.

Talk with members of your health care team

  • about what foods to limit or avoid
  • if you take iodine supplements
  • about any cough syrups you take because they may contain iodine

If you are pregnant, you need more iodine because the baby gets iodine from your diet. Talk with your doctor about how much iodine you need.

What Is A Normal Tsh Level

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Normal TSH values are 0, and they are expressed as a function of the TSH. 5 to 5. 0 mIU/L. A thyroid cancer diagnosis, a history of pituitary gland disease, or an older age can all contribute to TSH being optimally maintained in different ranges as directed by an endocrinologist. FT4 normal values are 0.0. 7 to 1. 9ng/dL.

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Questions To Ask Your Doctor

  • What is the cause of my underactive thyroid ?
  • Do I have Hashimotos disease ?
  • What do the results of my blood test mean?
  • How long will I need medicine for my hypothyroidism and what are the side effects?
  • What TSH level will you use as a target for me?
  • After I’m in the optimal range, how often do you suggest I come back for blood tests to make sure my dosage needs havent changed?
  • Am I at risk for related health problems?
  • How quickly can I expect relief from my hypothyroid symptoms?
  • Are there any lifestyle changes I can make to relieve my symptoms?

Once you have the answers to these questions, you will be better equipped to engage with your doctor in a discussionpossibly an ongoing oneabout the best thyroid management plan for you.

Memory Loss And Brain Fog Is A Sign Of Hypothyroidism

The brain is a major target organ for thyroid hormones. This is why the onset of hypothyroidism can affect brain function.

Clinical trials and functional imaging studies of the brain confirm that advanced hypothyroidism is associated with cognitive decline- largely reversible with treatment .

In contrast, subclinical hypothyroidism is not linked with major neuropsychiatric problems, although studies show small deficits in memory and executive function do occur. This is most often described by patients as experiencing brain fog.

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During And After Pregnancy

Increased demands on metabolism during pregnancy results in increased demands on the thyroid.

In one study, 85 percent of women who are pregnant and taking thyroid hormone replacement needed an additional intake of 47 percent on average, during pregnancy.

If hypothyroidism occurs during pregnancy, it is usually due to Hashimotos thyroiditis. This condition affects between

Will Hypothyroidism Make Me Gain Weight

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If your hypothyroidism is not treated, you could gain weight. Once you are treating the condition, the weight should start to lower. However, you will still need to watch your calories and exercise to lose weight. Talk to your healthcare provider about weight loss and ways to develop a diet that works for you.

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What Is The Cause Of An Underactive Thyroid Gland

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Accordingly, what does it mean if your thyroid levels are low?


What is the reason for low TSH?

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What does it mean when your TSH level is low?

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Radiation Treatment Of The Thyroid

Radioactive iodine, a common treatment for hyperthyroidism, gradually destroys thyroid cells. If you receive radioactive iodine treatment, you probably will eventually develop hypothyroidism. Doctors also treat people who have head or neck cancers with external radiation therapy, which can also damage the thyroid if it is included in the treatment.

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What Are The Symptoms Of Hyperthyroidism

The symptoms of hyperthyroidism can vary from person to person and may include

  • Nervousness or irritability
  • Imaging tests, such as a thyroid scan, ultrasound, or radioactive iodine uptake test. A radioactive iodine uptake test measures how much radioactive iodine your thyroid takes up from your blood after you swallow a small amount of it.

Many Of Us Have Unnoticed Goitres

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One of the more obvious symptoms of thyroid dysfunction is a lump in the neck, caused by swelling of the thyroid gland, known as a goitre. Whilst this can be a sign of cancer, “99% of the time, these growths are benign,” according to Khoo.

However, surprisingly many of us have a goitre without knowing.

“If you were to scan people on the street, 50% of women and about 30% of men will have a thyroid lump,” explains Khoo. “Most of the time people don’t even notice or feel these growths.”

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