Have you been feeling tired and weak? Do you suffer from heavy menstrual cycles or brittle nails? Do you get cold easily?
It might be time to get your thyroid hormone levels tested for hypothyroidism.
According to Web MD, the “thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland in the front of your neck. It makes hormones that control the way your body uses energy.”
Hypothyroidism occurs when the body doesn’t produce sufficient numbers of the thyroid hormones triiodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine (T4).
According to the Mayo Clinic website, “There can be a number of causes [for hypothyroidism], including autoimmune disease, treatment for hyperthyroidism, radiation therapy, thyroid surgery and certain medications.”
Insufficient amounts of the thyroid hormone could interfere with how you use the energy you get from consuming food, as the thyroid also helps to regulate a person’s weight. People suffering from hypothyroidism may have a more difficult time losing weight or maintaining a certain weight.
As people get older, the thyroid tends to slow down, but other reasons may play a role in how and why people suffer from hypothyroidism.
The Dr. Oz website said, “One of the biggest reasons our thyroids slow down is due to iodine deficiency in addition to aging. In fact, 40% of us are at risk for iodine deficiency and hypothyroidism. Not giving our bodies the nutrients that are important for a healthy thyroid will also slow your thyroid down. Since the body does not make iodine, it relies on the diet to get enough.”
Regular salt is often enriched with iodine which can reduce a deficiency of this in the body.
The signs of hypothyroidism start to develop slowly over time and can easily be confused as being part of a different condition. When it is not treated, hypothyroidism may become worse.
In mild cases, you may start to feel depressed or have a more difficult time remembering things. In addition, hair loss, muscle stiffness and higher cholesterol levels are common in those suffering from hypothyroidism.
“Advanced hypothyroidism, known as myxedema, is rare, but when it occurs it can be life-threatening. Signs and symptoms include low blood pressure, decreased breathing, decreased body temperature, unresponsiveness and even coma. In extreme cases, myxedema can be fatal,” said the Mayo Clinic website.
Blood tests conducted by a doctor may indicate the presence of a slow-working thyroid.
Hypothyroidism may be treated with medication and a combination of selective vitamins and supplements.
"Hypothyroidism (Underactive, Low Thyroid) WebMD: Symptoms, Causes and Treatments of Hypothyroidism and Hypothyroid Disease." WebMD. WebMD, 16 July 2010. Web. 31 Mar. 2013.
Lynn, Lisa. "3 Ways to Boost Thyroid Function." The Dr. Oz Show. HARPO Inc., 10 Oct. 2011. Web. 31 Mar. 2013.
Staff, Mayo Clinic. "Definition." Mayo Clinic. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 01 Dec. 2012. Web. 31 Mar. 2013.
Reviewed April 3, 2013
by Michele Blacksberg RN
Edited by Jody Smith