What if you had a medical problem that was affecting your body but you didn’t know you had it? Well, that’s exactly what’s happening to an estimated more than 10 million Americans that may have an undiagnosed thyroid hormone imbalance.
The thyroid gland is a butterfly-shaped gland that’s located in your neck, right under your Adam’s apple. Its primary function is helping to regulate metabolism, and it interacts with every other system in the body. The imbalance is often hypothyroidism, an under-active thyroid condition that accounts for 90% of all thyroid problems. If for any reason your thyroid gland isn’t functioning properly, chances are that you’re not functioning well either.
Signs and Symptoms of Hypothyroidism
So what are some of the main 5 signs and symptoms that could show up if you have an under-active thyroid gland?
First, you’re always feeling fatigued, even if you sleep 8 to 10 hours a night and take frequent naps.
Second, you may gain weight, or be unable to lose weight.
The third sign is that you experience mood changes, and you start having bouts of anxiety or depression.
A fourth sign is that your concentration is poor, and you may show signs of a poor memory.
Finally, the fifth sign is that there may be a hormone imbalance like PMS, infertility and low sex drive.
Other symptoms include joint pain, muscle pain or carpal tunnel syndrome. Your extremities are often always cold. Or you may have dry or cracking skin, brittle nails or excessive hair loss. Hypothyroidism most often affects older women.
There are several blood tests that will show if you have a thyroid hormone imbalance, and which type you have.
These tests include measuring your free T3 and T4 hormone levels, along with your TSH level. Your doctor will also look for thyroid antibodies. It’s important to be tested, because when diagnosed and treated promptly you’ll avoid permanent damage to your thyroid gland.
If you’re part of the 10% who have hyperthyroidism, your symptoms may be that you’re moody or nervous, have a high heart rate, shaking hands or breathing issues. You may also have hot, red or itchy skin. Causes may include Grave’s diseases, nodules on your thyroid, pituitary tumors or thyroid cancer.
Treatment for hypothyroidism often involves dietary changes, along with taking iodine and vitamins. Sometimes surgery is required, and if only a small portion of the thyroid gland is removed, the gland can still produce enough hormones to keep the body in balance.
Many physicians treat hypothyroidism with synthetic T4, which can help balance your T4 and TSH levels. The problem is that many people can’t convert T4 to T3, and T3 is the more active thyroid hormone. This leads to an imbalance of T3, and your symptoms will still be present.
A more thorough approach is thyroid hormone replacement therapy. Healthcare professionals who take this approach are looking to keep a patient’s hormone range in the optimal level, instead of an “adequate” level. The optimal level is what helps patients feel their best – without any symptoms. With thyroid hormone replacement therapy physicians use the most effective combination of thyroid hormones, eliminating any hormone imbalance.
Thyroid hormone replacement therapy is perfectly safe, and is designed for the specific needs of each patient. Just make sure the healthcare provider has the knowledge and experience in thyroid hormone replacement therapy to evaluate and manage your care.
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