The thyroid is a butterfly shaped gland located in your neck. The function of the thyroid is to secrete hormones to regulate your metabolism, control temperature and promote growth and development. Improper thyroid function can lead to disease and disorder.
There are two types of thyroid disorders; hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism. The ladder of the two is most common and means that your thyroid functions below its optimal level.
Hyperthyroidism means you have too much of the main thyroid hormones (T3 and T4) in your blood stream. Hypothyroidism is extremely common in women and can lead to a whole slew of problems, such as chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and migraines.
Today, we are going to discuss the signs and symptoms of hypothyroidism, as well as what you should do if you think you may have a thyroid disorder.
1. Unexplained weight gain
Have you noticed your pants are fitting a little tighter and you’re carrying a little more weight around your mid-section? If you’ve been good about cutting back on sweets and treats after the holiday it could be an issue with your thyroid. The thyroid releases hormones that regulate your metabolism. And a sluggish metabolism will lead to weight gain.
Do you feel exhausted despite the fact that you’re getting 7 to 8 hours of quality sleep each night? Do you feel like you just can’t keep up with the demands of the day? People with hypothyroidism experience debilitating fatigue and lethargy, to the point that they feel like they need to sleep throughout the day. People with hyperthyroidism have the opposite problem. The hours between 11 p.m. and 3 a.m. are their best time, they feel most productive and ready to take on the world, which poses an obvious problem for those who work a regular 9 to 5 job.
3. Increased sensitivity to cold
Are you the person who’s always cold? The thyroid regulates temperature so if you’re constantly cold, especially in situations where you shouldn’t be, it could be because your thyroid is acting up. One of the best ways to check thyroid function is to take your temperature under your armpit first thing in the morning after waking up before getting out of bed. It works best if you use a mercury thermometer. If your average temperature over a couple week period is less than 97.4 F it is likely you have a low thyroid.
4. Dry hair, hair loss, or thinning hair
Do you pull out clumps of hair from the drain after you take a shower? Another common sign of thyroid issues is hair loss or dullness. If you’ve recently started to lose more hair than normal, it could be a sign that your thyroid is not functioning properly. Another sign to look for is in the eyebrows. If the outer sides of the eyebrows (the parts closer to your ears) are thinner than the rest, this is a common sign of low thyroid.
5. Irregular periods
It seems like an irregular period can be a sign of a lot of diseases and disorders. However, it is important to keep all things in mind when trying to figure out if you are having problems with your thyroid. Watch for any changes in your period, for example, a significant shortening or lengthening of duration or an increase or decrease in flow.
So, what can you do about it?
First, if you suspect you have a problem with your thyroid, schedule an appointment with your doctor. They can do a blood test (make sure they check for free T3, free T4, reverse T3, thyroid antibody’s and TSH). Most doctors only check thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) which doesn’t paint the whole picture.
Second, start checking your basal temperature. Do this first thing in the morning before getting out of bed. If your temperature is below 97.4 F, you may have a thyroid problem.
Third, increase your iodine. Taking an iodine supplement is always a good idea. The thyroid needs iodine to function, so upping your iodine can cause a great improvement.
I hope you have found these signs and symptoms of hypothyroidism helpful!
To learn more about women’s health check out the Women’s Mind Body Wellness Summit. It contains 6 interviews by top female health professionals plus two workout videos and 3 bonus videos on mind-body wellness with MyHealthSpin Founder Lori-Ann Rickard.