By Dave Warner
Feeling fatigued? Putting on weight? Your hair becoming dry, and thinning?
All of those things can be part of the thyroid connection, in particular a condition called hypothyroidism, which means the gland just isn’t producing enough thyroid hormone.
What are the symptoms of hypothyroidism?
Here are some other common symptoms that could also point to the condition:
Your face begins to look puffy.
You just can’t tolerate the cold the way you once did.
You’re suffering from joint and muscle pain.
For women, too, either unusually heavy or irregular menstrual periods.
It’s been estimated that about 5 percent of the U.S. population – more than 15 million of us –suffer from the condition. Women are far more likely than men to have it, and the disorder is more common in people over the age of 60 than in younger people. It’s a common enough condition that January has been declared thyroid awareness month.
One reason is that some believe that while millions suffer from thyroid disease, many others may have it and not even know it yet.
For a gland that can cause all sorts of ailments, the thyroid is relatively small, shaped like a butterfly, and lives in your neck just in front of your windpipe. It weighs less than an ounce.
Risk factors of hypothyroidism
A few things can prompt it to malfunction, including:
Something called Hashimoto’s disease, which is really an auto immune disorder, that in this case has the immune system producing antibodies that attack cells in the thyroid.
Inflammation of the thyroid, which may come from an infection, or suffered by women who have just given birth, or so-called silent thyroiditis, thought to also be an auto immune issue.
It could be something you were born with.
- It may also be caused by either a previous surgery on the thyroid, or by radiation treatments.
In addition, it’s also possible that some medications – amiodarone, a heart drug; interferon alpha, used for cancer treatment; lithium, used for treatment of bipolar disorder; and interleukin-2, used for kidney cancer – can lead to hypothyroidism.
Treatment of hypothyroidism
When it comes to treating hypothyroidism, it’s a drug called thyroxine to the rescue.
Experts say it almost always does the job and allows you to get on with your normal life. It works by imitating the natural substance made by the thyroid.
It’s really a matter of getting the dosage right. Doctors will consider your weight, age and the degree of hypothyroidism.
Once that is all established, along with taking your general health into consideration, the doctor will prescribe the medication, and you would be tested in about two months to see if the dosage is correct. That could go on for awhile, until the dosage is just right.
After the stable dose is reached, the test may be repeated at six months and then once a year after that.
Screening For Hypothyroidism
Life Line Screening offers a rapid test for hypothyroidism, or an underactive thyroid. Just 1 drop of finger stick blood is required, and you'll receive your results within 21 days. The test is FDA approved and is 95% accurate. Call 1-800-909-1041 to see how you can be screened for hypothyroidism.
This test is offered for $45 in most states where blood testing is offered except in MA, AL, and PA.
Tell us what you think of this story. Share your comments below.