Hypothyroidism, also referred to as underactive thyroid, is more common than you may think. In fact, many people may have it and not even realize unless they’re aware of the symptoms of low thyroid function.
Simply put, hypothyroidism is a condition where your thyroid gland does not make enough thyroid hormone. Located in the front lower part of your neck, the hormones released by the thyroid gland travel through your bloodstream and affect nearly every part of your body, including metabolism.
Since symptoms of low thyroid function include a slower metabolism, this also affects things like your body temperature, how efficiently you burn calories, how your body makes energy and so on.
However, that’s not always the case. Signs and symptoms of low thyroid function will vary depending on how severe your hormone deficiency is. Generally speaking, symptoms may develop gradually over a period of several years, and not be brought on all at once.
At first, symptoms of low thyroid function may not even be noticeable. You may experience slight fatigue or weight gain and just attribute them to something else. Symptoms become more obvious as your metabolism continues to slow and the fatigue becomes more difficult to cope with day to day.
A List of Symptoms Of Low Thyroid Function
Symptoms of low thyroid function may include any combination of the following:
- Increased sensitivity to cold
- Dry skin
- Unexplained weight gain
- Puffy face
- Muscle weakness
- Elevated blood cholesterol level
- Muscle aches, tenderness and stiffness
- Pain, stiffness or swelling in your joints
- Heavier than normal or irregular menstrual periods
- Thinning hair
- Slowed heart rate
- Impaired memory
If hypothyroidism isn’t treated then you may start to experience more severe symptoms. In addition, you may become more forgetful, your thought processes may slow, or you may feel depressed.
It is highly recommended that you seek treatment for symptoms of low thyroid function before it evolves into advance hypothyroidism, known as Myxedema. Myxedema is rare, but has the potential to be life-threatening.
Women, particularly older women, are more likely to develop hypothyroidism than men. You are also more likely to develop hypothyroidism if you have a close family member with an autoimmune disease. Babies can also develop hypothyroidism, so if you believe your child is experiencing symptoms of low thyroid function please do not hesitate to make an appointment.
When To See A Doctor For Symptoms Of Low Thyroid Function
If you’re feeling tired for no apparent reason, or have any of the above listed symptoms, I recommend making an appointment for a consultation. If you have symptoms of hypothyroidism, blood tests will be ordered to check hormone levels.
Lower-than-normal free T4 levels with a high TSH usually mean you have hypothyroidism. If you have low free T3, you may have trouble converting thyroid hormone into its active form. This could be due to nutritional deficiencies, stress, trauma or aging. Some people make antibodies to their thyroid gland and have an autoimmune condition called Hashimoto’s. Therefore, it is important to have a thorough work up. If it turns out that the symptoms you’re experiencing are related to hypothyroidism, you will be prescribed a natural bioidentical thyroid hormone pill to take every day. Get a functional medicine doctor consultation to address all of the factors that affect your thyroid hormone and its function. In addition to treatment you will also need to see a doctor to have your thyroid function tested periodically.