Understanding the symptoms of low thyroid is essential in maintaining overall health and wellbeing. The thyroid gland plays an important role in regulating body functions, including metabolism, heart rate, and body temperature. When the thyroid gland produces too little thyroid hormone, or hypothyroidism, it can have disparaging effects on a person’s health, leading to a host of concerning symptoms.
This article will cover the common symptoms associated with low thyroid, how to identify them, and potential treatments and lifestyle changes to address the issue.
Identifying the Signs of Low Thyroid: Understanding Common Symptoms and Their Effects
Firstly, it is essential to provide a brief definition of low thyroid. Hypothyroidism occurs when the thyroid gland – a small, butterfly-shaped gland located in the neck – does not produce enough thyroid hormone to meet the body’s needs. When insufficient thyroid hormone is produced, it can result in a range of symptoms that can impact a person’s overall health.
The thyroid gland’s primary function is to produce hormones that regulate metabolism, the body’s energy use, and the internal balance of body chemicals. When thyroid hormone levels are low, the body’s metabolism slows down, leading to a range of symptoms. These symptoms may include:
Fatigue: Constantly feeling tired, even after a full night’s rest, can be a common sign of hypothyroidism. This is because low levels of thyroid hormone can slow down metabolism, leaving you feeling sluggish and low on energy.
Weight gain: One of the most recognizable signs of low thyroid is weight gain. When metabolism slows down, calories are burned at a slower rate, leading to an increase in body fat. Even with diet and exercise, weight gain can be challenging to control when thyroid hormone levels are low.
Constipation: Low thyroid hormone levels can slow down the digestive system, leading to constipation and other gastrointestinal issues. These symptoms may worsen over time if left untreated.
Hair loss: Hypothyroidism can cause hair loss, thinning hair, and brittle nails. This is because the body’s metabolism slows, decreasing the rate at which hair and nails grow.
Depression: Low thyroid hormone levels can lead to feelings of sadness, depression, and anxiety. These psychological symptoms can worsen over time if left untreated.
Sensitivity to cold: Low thyroid hormone levels can interfere with the body’s ability to regulate temperature, making you feel cold even in warm environments.
Dry skin: Skin may become dry, itchy, and flaky due to low thyroid hormone levels, causing discomfort and irritation if left untreated.
Menstrual irregularities: Women with hypothyroidism may experience heavier or more prolonged menstrual periods, as well as infertility issues if the condition is left untreated.
Don’t Ignore Your Body’s Signals: Common Signs of Low Thyroid to Watch Out For
Ignoring common symptoms of low thyroid can lead to increased health risks. When left untreated, low thyroid hormone levels can lead to serious health risks, including high cholesterol, heart disease, joint pain, infertility, and memory loss.
To diagnose hypothyroidism, healthcare providers will typically check thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) levels via a blood test. If TSH levels are found to be elevated, this may indicate hypothyroidism; other diagnostic tests may be performed to confirm the diagnosis.
In addition to the symptoms previously mentioned, other signs of low thyroid include:
Muscle weakness: When thyroid hormone levels are low, muscles can become weak, especially in the arms and legs.
Joint pain: Hypothyroidism may cause joint pain, stiffness, and muscle aches. These symptoms are often worse in the morning.
Hoarseness: Low thyroid hormone levels can cause changes to the voice, leading to hoarseness, or a husky tone.
High cholesterol: Hypothyroidism can lead to increased cholesterol levels, which can increase the risk of heart disease if left untreated.
Memory loss: Low thyroid hormone levels can cause forgetfulness, confusion, and difficulty concentrating, which can worsen over time.
Low sex drive: Hypothyroidism can interfere with hormone levels, leading to decreased sexual desire.
When Something’s Not Quite Right: Recognizing Symptoms of Low Thyroid and What to Do About It
If you suspect that you may be experiencing symptoms of low thyroid, it is essential to seek medical attention promptly. Usually, once a diagnosis is confirmed, treatment will be necessary to manage symptoms and maintain overall health.
Once diagnosed, a healthcare provider may recommend hormone replacement therapy to supplement the low levels of thyroid hormone and promote better balance within the body. Additionally, making lifestyle changes such as regular exercise and a balanced diet can help manage symptoms and improve overall health.
Could You Have an Underactive Thyroid? Here’s How to Recognize the Symptoms
While anyone can experience hypothyroidism, some people may be at a higher risk than others. Women, older adults, and individuals with a family history of the condition may be at increased risk. Additionally, pregnancy-related hormonal changes can also lead to hypothyroidism in some women.
Other risk factors for hypothyroidism may include:
Age: As the body ages, the risk of developing low thyroid hormone levels increases.
Family history: If relatives have a history of low thyroid hormone levels, this may increase the chances of developing the condition.
Pregnancy: Hormonal changes during pregnancy can lead to low thyroid hormone levels in some women.
Navigating Low Thyroid Symptoms: What You Need to Know and Common Misconceptions to Debunk
There are numerous misconceptions about hypothyroidism, including that it only affects women. In reality, anyone can experience low thyroid hormone levels, regardless of gender.
While hypothyroidism can be a challenging condition to manage, making lifestyle changes such as regular exercise and a balanced diet can help ease symptoms and improve overall health. Untreated low thyroid hormone levels can lead to serious health risks such as heart disease, infertility, and joint pain.
Recognizing the symptoms of low thyroid hormone levels is essential in maintaining overall health and wellbeing. If you suspect that you may have hypothyroidism, seeking medical attention promptly is critical. Once diagnosed, healthcare providers can recommend treatments and lifestyle changes to manage symptoms and reduce the risk of complications.