Do I have Hypothyroid? 10 Common SymptomsNov 05, 2021
Why Learn About Thyroids?
Synthetic Thyroid hormone (most commonly called levothyroxine) is the second most prescribed medication in the United States, with over 100 million prescriptions annually. Because of this, I believe it is critical for my patients to understand how the thyroid works and know when their symptoms indicate that they should get their thyroid tested.
What is a Thyroid?
The thyroid is a gland located at the base of your neck; it is roughly the size and shape of a bow tie. It produces two primary hormones: T4, which is the less active form, and T3, which is the more active form. Thyroid hormone impacts every system of the body: it helps to regulate metabolism, digestion, your heart rate, bone health, and even the rate at which you make your skin, hair, and nails. It is useful to think of thyroid as the governor of the "speed" at which your body functions.
Do I have Hypothyroid?
Because of the wide range of effects of thyroid hormone, it can be tricky to pick apart the symptoms that indicate that its function is low. However, there are a number of signs and symptoms that, when put together, are characteristic of low thyroid function (called hypothyroidism). While there is no one thing that "causes" hypothyroid, it can occur after major hormonal transitions such as postpartum and menopause, as well as following a major stressor or life event.
Here are some of the most common things to look for:
- Fatigue- While fatigue is a symptom of almost any chronic disease, it is usually the thing that makes people go to their doctor. If it is paired with any of the other symptoms, it may be your thyroid.
- Weight Gain-- Because the thyroid impacts your metabolism, when you have low levels of thyroid hormone it can cause weight gain. Especially if your diet or exercise habits haven't changed, this can be an indicator of slow thyroid function.
- Constipation-- Again, when the thyroid is low, body processes slow down. This includes the digestion!
- Feeling Chilly-- When your metabolism slows down, your internal "furnace" doesn't work as efficiently. This can lead to a drop in your core temperature, and a sense of intolerance to cold.
- Hair loss-- In addition to metabolism, thyroid also regulates the rate at which you replace cells in your body. Your hair is one of the first places you may see the effects of this.
- weak, dry, or flaky skin and nails-- Just like your hair, skin and nail cells turn over rapidly. Low thyroid will cause a drop in your ability to make healthy skin and nails.
- Insomnia-- Both low and high thyroid cause a shift in your mental health. This can cause a disruption in your sleep patterns. I have had many patients throughout the years with insomnia that improves once their thyroid is regulated.
- Depression-- While there are many potential causes for low mood, if you are struggling with your mental health and some of these other symptoms are present, it may be useful to check your thyroid.
- Slow Heart Rate or Low Blood Pressure-- Because the thyroid helps regulate the "rate" at which the body functions, it can impact heart rate and blood pressure. If you feel dizzy or lightheaded, or you count your heart beats each minute and it is 65 or lower, your thyroid may be low.
- Slow respiratory rate-- This is a funny one, but your thyroid actually regulates your unconscious drive to breathe. If you notice yourself not breathing as often as you think you should, or if you feel like you have to "think" about breathing, it could be related to thyroid function.
Feel free to contact me anytime to ask more questions about thyroid function! Next week--Natural options for supporting thyroid function!
Also, if you are interested in learning more about how all your hormones work and how they work together, check out the Women's Hormone Health Masterclass--my next session will start soon!
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