The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland in the neck that is responsible for producing, storing and releasing thyroid hormones (thyroxine) into the blood. These hormones affect each and every cell in our body and play an important role in various bodily functions. They help regulate metabolism, break down proteins, and process carbohydrates and vitamins, among others.
What will happen if you have an underactive thyroid?
Hypothyroidism or underactive thyroid is a common problem among men and women and tends to affect older people. It is not always serious but, when left unchecked and untreated, can lead to serious health complications, like goiter, heart disease, mental health problems and even infertility.
Do you have an underactive thyroid?
The sooner you recognize you have an underactive thyroid, the better you can prevent its complications. The following are some of the signs that your thyroid gland is not working well:
- Feeling of fatigue after sleeping for 8 to 10 hours at night
- Need to take a nap daily
- Abnormal weight gain or inability to lose weight
- Anxiety, depression, and mood swings
- Low libido, irregular periods, sudden infertility, and many other symptoms of hormonal imbalance
- Tendonitis, muscular pain and joint pain
- Cold hands and feet
- Excessive hair loss, dry skin, and brittle nails
- Stomach problem like constipation
- Poor memory and inability to concentrate
- Snoring, hoarse voice and neck swelling
What causes hypothyroidism?
There are a number of factors that keep the thyroid gland from functioning well. Among which is thyroid damaged, which can be caused by radiation exposure, overconsumption of soy, overused of lithium, use of amiadarone often prescribed for abnormal heart rhythm, iodine deficiency (or excess), consumption of goetrogenic foods (e.g. turnips, Brussels sprouts, and cabbage, and radishes), exposure to thyroid toxins (smoke, perchlorate, etc.), and stress.
Autoimmune thyroiditis, also known as Hashimoto’s disease, is another factor that can cause hypothyroidism. In people with this condition, the immune system interprets the thyroid glands and its hormones as foreign invaders, therefore, attacking them.
What to do if you’re showing the signs
To properly diagnosed hypothyroidism and to treat it right away, visit your doctor and ask to be tested for TSH, Free T4, Free T3, Reverse T3, Thyroid Peroxidase Antibodies (TPOAb), Thyroglobulin Antibodies (TgAb).