Do you feel tired for most of the day? Have you gained weight recently? Do you feel depressed?
You might have hypothyroidism. Yes, this small gland in front of your neck can be the reason for all your symptoms. Hypothyroidism or underactive thyroid can cause various symptoms depending on your age and the severity of the condition.
What is Hypothyroidism?
Hypothyroidism is a medical condition where the thyroid gland does not produce enough hormones to maintain normal bodily function. Often this is referred to as an underactive thyroid. As a result, there are not enough circulating levels of thyroid hormones in the bloodstream.
Thyroid hormones play a key role in regulating total body metabolism but this goes well beyond just body weight, they also influence heart rate, digestion, energy, mood, and even immune status.
Hypothyroidism can affect both men and women. However, it tends to be more common in women for a variety of reasons but can also affect children and babies. Some babies are born with it, so screening for congenital hypothyroidism is necessary to ensure early treatment interventions are in place.
Hashimotos is one of the most common thyroid-related complaints that we often see clinically. In this case, the immune system begins attacking the thyroid gland directly and has the potential to skew thyroid function in the long run.
However, many patients find it difficult for providers to run a complete thyroid panel. Often patients will be reassured that their thyroid is “perfectly normal” but yet a provider will only run TSH or T4. This isn’t the providers’ fault, this is more so an issue with insurance as they won’t cover the cost of a full thyroid panel (9 markers total).
These same patients are also the individuals who have to suffer in silence for months, sometimes years on end before they finally gain clarity on what might be driving their symptoms. Worst of all, if autoimmune conditions aren’t caught early, they can often lead to irreversible organ damage that is tough to manage.
Complete thyroid panels should be part of a standard workup for nearly every patient but unfortunately, insurance drastically limits what a provider can offer to patients due to cost concerns.
Symptoms of Hypothyroidism
Many hypothyroid symptoms are similar to those experienced with other conditions. But, unlike some acute conditions, thyroid hormones tend to shift slowly and symptoms will progressively arise with a chronic presentation. This makes the patient’s health history somewhat difficult to decipher given the lack of marked change in a short period of time.
The most common symptoms of hypothyroidism include:
- Fatigue without accompanying activity is one of the most common complaints of hypothyroidism.
- Weight gain is among the most common symptoms of underactive thyroid.
- Cold Intolerance or being more sensitive to cold weather.
- Loss of libido, i.e., sex drive.
- Constipation is quite common in cases of hypothyroidism.
- Depression and forgetfulness.
- Muscle cramps are common in an underactive thyroid. It is more common in the lower limbs than in the upper limbs.
- Numbness and tingling sensation in hands and fingers.
- Dry and scaly skin
- Brittle hair and nails
- Heavy and frequent menstrual periods
- Older adults may develop memory and mood problems due to hypothyroidism.
- It can also affect the growth of children as it leads to slower growth and early puberty.
What Should You Do If You Think You Have Hypothyroidism?
If you are experiencing symptoms of hypothyroidism, it is important to see your doctor. You will need comprehensive testing to confirm the diagnosis of hypothyroidism and initiate treatment.
Here at the Functional Health Center of The Carolinas, we understand how crippling the consequences of untreated hypothyroidism can be. Our qualified doctors have the education and experience to properly evaluate, diagnose, and treat your hypothyroidism.
Contact us today at (704) 625-2994 to book your appointment.