Do you struggle to keep your weight in check, suffer from depression, constipation, dry skin or thinning hair . . . or are you sometimes so fatigued that you have a hard time making it through your work day? If so, you’re not alone. Many people suffer from these and other nagging symptoms yet don’t feel the problem is severe enough to see a doctor. However, these and other unexplained issues can potentially be signs of a thyroid condition, and they should never be ignored.
Common Thyroid Malfunctions
The symptoms described above are commonly associated with hypothyroidism, a condition in which the thyroid gland becomes under active, slowing the body’s metabolic rate. Another common thyroid condition is hyperthyroidism, where the thyroid becomes too active, increasing the metabolism. Both conditions are related to the autoimmune system and can have an assortment of causes, including too much or not enough iodine in the diet, problems with the pituitary gland, growths, tumors or other issues. Just as people with hypothyroidism may have trouble losing weight, people with hyperthyroidism may not be able to put weight on.
Tests for Specific Conditions
If you suspect that you may have a thyroid problem, it’s important to receive the proper blood and hormone testing to confirm the condition. Testing for thyroid conditions involves looking at something called thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH), which is released by the pituitary gland to signal the production of thyroid hormones. Low levels of TSH are usually an indication of an overactive thyroid, where as very high TSH levels are present in hypothyroidism.
Other important hormonal tests that can shed some light on what is happening with your thyroid include T4, which will help decide whether your thyroid issues are stemming from a problem with your pituitary gland, T3, which can fluctuate based on thyroid function, and thyroid antibodies, which are released when certain autoimmune conditions are present, such as Grave’s disease.
Living With Treatments
Treatment for thyroid conditions vary depending on your particular medical situation, but the basic treatment for hypothyroidism, the most common of conditions, involves replacing your body’s lacking hormones with a synthetic version. No matter what your condition, it’s important to talk to your doctor about ensuring that you are on the right path. Thyroid conditions are complicated, and finding the correct medication and dosage level could take some time and patience. Once you are properly medicated, there are a number of other steps that you can take to improve your thyroid function and overall health, including exercising regularly, meditating or doing yoga, getting plenty of sleep each night, eating a balanced diet and avoiding too much stress. Last but not least, be sure to laugh a lot and keep up a positive outlook.