If you think you may have thyroid dysfunction, knowing the hypothyroidism symptoms puts you one step closer to proper diagnosis and treatment.
Thyroid at a Glance
The anterior pituitary gland is found in the brain. First of all, this gland secretes the thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH). Then, TSH tells the thyroid gland to make thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3). T3 is the active form of thyroid hormone that influences our body's metabolism. However, T4 is produced in the thyroid gland in greater amounts than T3 - around 90% more. The majority of T4 is converted to T3 in our organs and body tissue.
30-40% of Americans are hypothyroid. 52 million!
There are many causes of hypothyroidism. The most common causes are:
1. Autoimmune disease, such as Hashimoto’s thyroiditis
2. Surgical removal of the thyroid
3. Radiation treatment
4. Thyroid nodules
5. Primary hypothyroidism, when there is an issue with the thyroid gland itself
6. Secondary hypothyroidism: rare and occurs when the pituitary gland malfunctions and not enough TSH is secreted
7. Iodine deficiency: this is a huge contributor in the U.S. for thyroid dysfunction because we stripped iodine out of many of our food products. Iodine is essential for thyroid function, as is zinc and selenium. Thyroid hormones are the only compounds in the body that contain iodine.
Women are five times more likely to have hypothyroidism than men and as many as one in five women will develop this condition by age 60!
As you can see from the list of hypothyroidism symptoms below many are vague and could be misdiagnosed as other conditions.
What are the most common symptoms of hypothyroidism?
1. Constipation: This is one of the most common signs of hypothyroidism. There are two reasons for this. First, without enough thyroid hormone (TH) many of the body’s functions slow down, including digestion. Secondly, the contraction of the muscles lining the small and large intestines can weaken due to lack of thyroid hormone. This causes the stool to move slowly through the intestinal tract.
2. Depression:Because depression and hypothyroidism share many symptoms, the thyroid is often an overlooked source of depression. When an underactive thyroid is not producing enough hormone, the production of chemicals regulating mood is also impaired, which often leads to depression.
3. Dry hair and hair loss: Hypothyroidism affects metabolism which impairs hair follicle health. This can lead to dry, brittle hair that is frizzy and coarse to the touch. You may also notice patches of hair loss. Sometimes your hairdresser is the first one to notice because it may take place at the crown and back of the head. Hair loss is one of the most common symptoms of prolonged underactive thyroid. Topical treatments only temporarily help. The good news is that once we diagnose and properly treat hypothyroidism, the hair often returns to its normal state and regrowth patterns.
4. Dry, brittle nails: Poor nail quality is one of the earliest physical signs of an underactive thyroid. For the same reasons as hypothyroidism affects hair quality, finger and toenails can take a toll. Dry and brittle nails that easily break off or become flaky are common in hypothyroidism. Ridges in the nails are common signs as well as the nail plate separating from the nail bed. Impaired metabolism and protein synthesis related to lack of thyroid hormone production explain these problems.
5. Lethargy and brain fog: Fatigue and mental fogginess can be a symptom of many conditions-or simply related to a busy lifestyle. Hence, these signs often do not automatically indicate that you need to have your thyroid checked. However, underactive thyroid leads to both low energy and brain fog that can severely impact your life.
6. Cold intolerance: If you have an abnormal intolerance to cold and are usually colder than everyone else around you, it could be hypothyroidism. Since the thyroid gland regulates body heat, those without that normal body production of thyroid hormone are more prone to cold intolerance and even hypothermia.
7. Slow heart rate: As with other symptoms listed here, a slowed metabolism due to hypothyroidism leads to a slower heart rate as well.
8. Weight gain that is unexplained and difficulty losing weight: If you inexplicably put on weight suddenly or over a period of time that you cannot shed, even with considerable effort, get your thyroid checked. A significantly slowed metabolism is one of the major consequences of hypothyroidism. The big difference here is that the weight gain caused by factors other than hypothyroidism can be shed with proven routines in weight loss (weight gain from pregnancy, for example).
9. Changes in menstrual cycle: Due to low TH levels in hypothyroidism menstrual cycles can be worse with heavier and more frequent bleeding and more painful cramping.
Don’t suffer in silence. If you have some of these symptoms contact Dr. Russo and the Inner Beauty Medical team today to schedule a full thyroid assessment.
RESTORE YOUR HEALTH FROM THE INSIDE OUT