What You Must Know About Your Thyroid

Hypothyroidism isn’t picky. It can strike at any age and can affect anyone. However, its favorite victim appears to be women since it occurs in approximately 1 in 50 women and only about 1 in 1,000 men. It typically occurs in adults and becomes increasingly common as you age.

What is Hypothyroidism?

This is a condition in which the thyroid gland no longer produces enough of certain vital hormones.

This can be problematic due to the fact the thyroid is the control mechanism for the metabolism, which in turn affects your body’s temperature, heartbeat and how well you burns calories. So if your thyroid hormone is low then your body may have less energy and your metabolism can become extremely stagnant.

Potential Symptoms

Varying symptoms can present themselves, depending on the severity of the actual hormone deficiency. However, symptoms do not always present themselves early on, be on the watch for these and other potential signs or symptoms:

  • Fatigue
  • Increased cold sensitivity
  • Unexplained weight gain
  • Muscle weakness
  • Pain, stiffness or swelling in joints
  • Thinning hair
  • Depression
  • Impaired memory
  • Dry skin

How Do I Know?

Pay attention to your body and the signals it’s trying to give you, watching for any of the symptoms listed above. If you feel something may be off balance don’t hesitate to reach out to your physician.

A physician will potentially order a blood test to check your hormone levels, checking your thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) and your T4 (thyroxine) levels.

If your test results are abnormal your physician may order a thyroid ultrasound or scan to check for nodules or inflammation.

Even though hypothyroidism upsets the normal balance of chemical reactions in one’s body, it seldom causes symptoms in the early stages. However, after time has passed and it has gone untreated,  health problems can stack up. A person could come up against such problems as obesity, joint pain, infertility and heart disease.

Don’t ignore those signals.

Medication Therapy and Beyond

Levothyroxine, one of the top ten prescription drugs, is likely to be prescribed by your attending physician. It may be used alone or in combination with other medication.

Nevertheless, keep in mind that if you have an uncontrolled adrenal gland disorder or if you have recently experienced symptoms of a heart attack, you will want to share that information with your physician, as taking levothyroxine may create further problems.

Other potential problems could occur if you are experiencing issues with your pituitary gland, diabetes, heart disease or a history of blood clots and anemia. Always share info about known food or drug allergies with your physician as well.

Typically the body is not able to correct itself from low thyroid levels and you should potentially expect to be on medication for the duration of your life with periodic blood tests likely required to assess if adjustments need to be made to your medication or dosage.

The medication itself warns against a minimal list of potential side effects including weight loss, heat intolerance, nervousness, tremors, nausea, and irritability.

There are typically no specific dietary restrictions, however, it’s been noted that anything containing soybeans, walnuts, and dietary fiber may have a potential effect on how the medication works for you. It is suggested that you typically ingest the medication, with a full glass of water, one-half to one hour before you take vitamins, supplements or have breakfast.

While levothyroxine can have a side effect of weight loss this medication should never be used to treat obesity or weight problems as dangerous side effects, including death, can result with misuse.

Keep in mind that levothyroxine is not the only medication or treatment that is available. The best plan will depend on your personal symptoms and what treatment option makes you the most comfortable. You may also choose to seek out other complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) options.


Working through your emotions needs to be a top priority. A common symptom of hypothyroidism can be depression. Until the right balance of medication is found, you may feel out of sync. Occasionally finding the correct dosage of medication can take weeks or even months.

There is a mind-body connection and the state of your mental health is paramount. Speaking with a therapist shouldn’t be out of the question. Address your feelings or concerns about the sway in your emotions, sleeping or eating habits.  Do your best to reduce stress factors and help yourself by eating a healthy diet. Your energy is already taking a hit, ensure that you are taking in a proper balance of low-fat foods, vegetables, fruits, and protein.

Regular exercise can give a healthy boost to your metabolism. However, that isn’t the only reason to partake in physical activity, exercise can release natural hormones, assisting to elevate your mood. Another fantastic stress reducer is massage, giving you the opportunity to relax and soothe your emotions.

Importantly, just because you may be feeling sluggish, don’t withdraw from your social circles. This is the time you should lean on friends and family. Create plans and push yourself to go out, spending time with loved ones can be vital support as you move through this transitional phase.

2/3/2024 5:00:00 AM
C.A. Newberry
Written by C.A. Newberry
C.A. Newberry is a healthy living advocate and health industry writer with a passion for continued learning and sharing life experiences. If she is not at her computer, you can find her at the ballpark with her family enjoying good times.
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Posted by Amy Hall
During a physical or yearly exam it's important for physicians to feel the thyroid for lumps. These also tend to run in families for some reason. Usually the process is ultrasound. Sometimes a fine needle biopsy is needed. Depending on the results of that a thyroidectomy may be required. Bottom line, during a routine visit to either a primary or gyn or other, ask to have thyroid checked -- if he/she doesn't already -- for signs of growths.
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