In today’s video, we’ll be talking about a crucial hormone in our body: the thyroid hormone, and what happens when you have hypothyroidism, or low levels of thyroid hormone in your body.
Your thyroid is the butterfly-shaped gland in your lower throat. It produces two main hormones, T4 and T3, which are responsible for managing your metabolism, body temperature, and blood pressure.
When your hormone levels are too high or low, it can cause all sorts of chaos. That’s because every cell in your body uses thyroid hormones!
When the thyroid is under-active and does not create enough hormones, it’s called hypothyroidism. And when it’s over-active and releases too many hormones, it’s called hyperthyroidism.
Now, hypothyroidism is extremely common. It affects up to 5% of the population in the United States alone, with a further estimated 5% being undiagnosed.
The primary reason many people are undiagnosed is because many patients, as well as their doctors, mistake the symptoms of low thyroid levels for something else entirely.
Today, we’ll look at 12 symptoms of an under-active thyroid. Keep in mind that these symptoms are not definitive proof of the disease. Always consult a doctor for professional opinion.
Now, with that being said, let’s look at the first symptom. Number 12 is “Hair Thinning”.
There are three kinds of hair days: the good, the bad, and the days when your strands are trying to warn you that your thyroid levels are low.
The thyroid hormones are crucial for the growth and health of hair follicles.
You’ll find that people with low thyroid hormones have hair that is dry, coarse, brittle and slow-growing.
The hair loss caused by thyroid problems occurs over time and falls out in clumps or strands. And it can also happen to your eyebrows, body hair, and eyelashes.
Hair regrowth can occur upon successful treatment of this thyroid disorder, though it can take several months and may still be incomplete.
Your hair isn’t the only thing that can dry up if you have hypothyroidism. Number 11 is “Dry Skin”.
Just like hair follicles, skin cells also have a rapid turnover. This means they are sensitive to losing growth signals if there is a lack of thyroid hormones.
When the normal cycle of skin renewal is broken, skin may take longer to regrow. The outer layer of skin will take longer to shed, leading to flaky, dry skin.
And when that skin is on the scalp, the effects can show up in your hair. That’s because dry, flaky skin can lead to an itchy scalp and stubborn dandruff.
Another physical sign that can be seen by the naked eye is Number 10, “Brittle nails”.
An underactive thyroid can cause slow-growing and brittle nails.
In addition, according to the American Academy of Dermatology Association (AADA), your nails may also develop visible ridges.
Some patients with hypothyroidism may also notice that their fingernails lift up, splitting from the nail bed.
This condition is known as onycholysis and is also referred to as “Plummer’s nails.”
Onycholysis can appear as a white discoloration, because of the air underneath the nail.
Next is a subtle sign that is often overlooked. Number 9 is “Chronic Fatigue”.
When was the last time you had a good night’s sleep and woke up refreshed?
Now, imagine having that good night’s sleep but waking up tired like you have no energy or motivation to do anything.
That’s what fatigue feels like and is one of the most common symptoms of hypothyroidism.
And no matter how much you sleep or how many naps you take, the fatigue never really goes away.
Not only does the lack of energy make it harder to go about your daily life, it can actually worsen the next item on this list. Number 8 is “Weight gain”.
If you have a swollen face and put on weight easily, your thyroid may be causing these issues.
That’s because the thyroid helps produce key hormones necessary to regulate body weight, hunger levels, and the metabolism of fat and sugar. Even mild cases of hypothyroidism may increase the risk of weight gain and obesity.
As if putting on weight isn’t already bad enough, the next on this list is a real pain. Number 7 is “Sore muscles and joints.
Hypothyroidism can cause musculoskeletal symptoms ranging from general muscle and joint aches to true muscle disease or arthritis.
That’s because thyroid hormones play a vital role in the reproduction and growth of bone and cartilage.
Now, the most reported cases of joint pain and symptoms in patients with an underactive thyroid involve the knees and hands.
And there seems to be a connection between rheumatoid arthritis and thyroid disorders.
According to researchers, people with rheumatoid arthritis are more likely to develop an underactive thyroid, including hypothyroidism and Hashimoto’s thyroiditis.
And that link appears to go both ways, meaning that people with thyroid disease have a higher risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis.
Unfortunately, muscles and joints aren’t the only areas of the body that can be affected, which brings us to Number 6. Slow heart rate.
Hypothyroidism can affect the heart and circulatory system in several ways. Insufficient levels of thyroid hormones can slow your heart rate, make arteries less elastic, and can cause blood pressure to increase.
In some individuals with hypothyroidism, the heart rate can be 10 to 20 beats per minute (bpm) slower than what is considered medically normal.
This condition, also known as bradycardia, can cause weakness, dizziness, breathing problems, and may also result in serious complications, such as heart failure.
Speaking of which, if you’re concerned about heart health, you’ll want to pay close attention to what’s coming next. Number 5 is High cholesterol.
Not many people know this, but thyroid hormones have a direct impact on cholesterol levels.
In fact, thyroid hormones play a vital role in breaking down and removing excess LDL cholesterol from the body via the liver. Without adequate thyroid hormones, the liver struggles to carry out this function and LDL cholesterol levels increase.
Having high cholesterol levels puts you at greater risk of heart disease. That’s because excess LDL cholesterol that isn’t removed can become oxidized and turn into plaque, which can cause your arteries to narrow and harden.
Research suggests that up to 13 percent of individuals with high cholesterol have an underactive thyroid.
Even people with mildly low thyroid levels, called subclinical hypothyroidism, can have higher than normal LDL cholesterol.
The good news is that treating the thyroid problem may help reduce cholesterol levels, even in those who do not take cholesterol-lowering drugs.
Another major organ that can show signs of hypothyroidism is your brain, which brings us to Number 4. Mood and memory changes.
Thyroid hormones are crucial for brain development and influence brain function throughout life.
Individuals with an underactive thyroid can experience anxiety, depression, mood swings, impaired memory function, brain fog, and other cognitive related issues.
These symptoms can occur because the brain requires thyroid hormones to function correctly.
Research shows that low levels of thyroid hormones can cause changes in brain structure and functioning.
Fortunately, these brain changes are reversible once a person receives proper treatment.
Next up, a symptom that makes you want to carry a heating pad everywhere you go. Number 3 is Feeling cold.
Nobody enjoys feeling cold all the time, but that’s exactly what a person with hypothyroidism can experience, even if the weather is warm.
That’s because low thyroid hormones can slow down metabolism, which can lead to a drop in core body temperature.
Individuals with hypothyroidism may feel cold all the time or have a low tolerance against it. They’re also more likely to have icy hands or feet.
Coming up next is a frustrating bathroom symptom. Number 2 is Constipation.
Did you know, there is a movie about constipation? It just hasn’t come out yet.
All jokes aside, digestion is another body function that can slow down because of hypothyroidism.
Studies report that an underactive thyroid can cause problems with bowel movement.
These digestive changes cause some people to experience constipation.
According to doctors, constipation is medically defined as having fewer than three bowel movements a week.
A person may also experience hard stools, difficulty passing stool, or not being able to empty the rectum fully.
Another unexpected symptom of thyroid problems is Number 1. Menstrual changes.
Women with hypothyroidism may experience heavy or irregular menstrual periods or spotting between periods.
According to the Society of Menstrual Cycle Research, having low levels of thyroid hormones can cause these problems because it affects other key hormones that play a role in the menstrual cycle.
Hypothyroidism can also cause periods to stop for several months or longer, a condition called amenorrhea.
There you have it! The top 12 symptoms of hypothyroidism.
If you have more than one of these symptoms, do consult your physician for further evaluation.
Next, what are the causes of hypothyroidism?
Conditions that can cause hypothyroidism include:
-Thyroiditis, an inflammation of the thyroid gland.
-Iodine deficiency, the most common cause of all thyroid disorders worldwide.
-Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, an inherited autoimmune condition
-Postpartum thyroiditis, a temporary condition that occurs in 5-9% of women after childbirth.
Next, how is hypothyroidism diagnosed?
A blood test is the best way to diagnose hypothyroidism. This condition is usually associated with an elevated TSH level.
TSH stands for thyroid stimulating hormone. TSH is released by your pituitary gland to regulate the production of T4 and T3 by your thyroid.
Your doctor may also test for T4 and T3 directly or perform an ultrasound. If you are diagnosed with hypothyroidism, a common treatment is to take levothyroxine tablets every day.
Environmental, diet and lifestyle factors contribute to a malfunctioning thyroid. While some factors are seemingly out of our control, many are not.
In the next video, we’ll look at natural ways to prevent thyroid trouble and restore hormone levels.
Now, since inflammation is an underlying cause of low thyroid hormones, eating an anti-inflammatory diet can support your thyroid health.
To get your free anti-inflammatory diet plan, click the link below.
As always, this video is educational and does not constitute medical advice; we are not doctors.
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And now, over to you: Have you experienced any of these symptoms? If you’re already living with hypothyroidism, what kind of treatment has been working for you?
Leave your comments below. We’d love to hear from you.