This post was originally written during my 2 1/2 year tenure as a blogger for Health Goes Strong. This site was deactivated on July 1, 2013, but you can see it here.
WEIGHT GAIN IS JUST ONE SYMPTOM OF AN UNDER ACTIVE THYROID SO GET THYROID FUNCTION CHECKED
Back in the days when the majority of American adults were not overweight, those who were would often blame it on a “sluggish thyroid.” While it is true that weight gain is a symptom of an underactive thyroid, I don’t hear that excuse much anymore.
Could it be that now that two-thirds of the population is carrying extra pounds, people have decided they don’t have problems with hypothyroidism?
In an odd twist of fate, they just might be wrong! It is estimated that 1.5 million Americans over the age of 12 have do not produce enough thyroid hormone, with half of the cases undiagnosed. The chances of developing hypothyroidism increase with age and women are five times more likely than men to suffer from it.
It’s worth knowing all of the symptoms caused by a low thyroxin level since unexplained weight gain is not the only issue linked to thyroid health. Heart disease, infertility and osteoporosis are also on the list, along with diabetes, arthritis and anemia.
All of these symptoms are not experienced by everyone with an underactive thyroid, but these the most common ones.
- Persistent Fatigue, Drowsiness
- Weight Gain, Water Retention
- Cold Intolerance, Low Body Temperature
- Thinning or Loss of Hair
- Depression, Moodiness
- Joint and Muscle Pain
- Heavy or Irregular Menstrual Periods
- Dry Skin, Brittle Nails
- Puffy Face and Eyes
Many of the symptoms of hypothyroidism are the same as those for other diseases, so a diagnosis cannot be based on symptoms alone. Your physician will need to review your personal medical history to look for other signs of thyroid dysfunction and ask about your family history since thyroid problems are familial.
TSH Test – This test detects the amount of Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH) in the blood and is the most accurate way to measure thyroid function. TSH levels rise and fall based on how much thyroid hormone is being produced to meet your body’s needs. A result showing TSH above normal levels indicates hypothyroidism and a reading below normal means hyperthyroidism, or over-active thyroid.
T4 Test – This test measures the actual amount of circulating thyroid hormone in the blood. In hypothyroidism, the T4 levels are lower than normal.
Restoring Thyroid Health
Hypothyroidism can be almost completely controlled by taking a synthetic form of the hormone thyroxin. The hitch is getting the dose right, taking the medication properly and avoiding interference from other medications.
That means you’ll need to have your TSH level checked every 6-8 weeks after beginning treatment so adjustment can be made in the dosage until it is right for you. Once the TSH levels are stable, you will need to have them monitored the rest of your life since your condition can, and will, change with age and other changes in your health status.
There is no special diet for treating hypothyroidism. As for the excess weight, once you’re on the right medication, your metabolism will start working properly again and the weight should come off. You’ll also feel more energetic so can resume regular exercise.