Have you been feeling tired a lot lately and wonder if this is just a sign of aging? Everyone experiences feeling tired from time to time but it is usually short-lived and comes and goes, depending on what is going on in your life like a night shift job or caring for a new baby. Normal tiredness usually goes away after you’ve had the chance to get a good night’s sleep. If you feel tired even after sleeping or it is constant, it could be due to an under-active thyroid.
It is estimated that 30 million Americans are affected by low thyroid or hypothyroidism. The thyroid is a gland that is responsible for hormone production. If it is not working properly it can either produce too much or too little hormones which can affect how you feel. Too much hormone production can make you have excess energy and be all over the place, while too little can make you feel tired, no energy, and depressed if the condition goes untreated for too long.
The thyroid regulates body temperature, heart rhythm, and metabolism. If it is underactive it may cause you to have an irregular heartbeat, gain weight, and feel cold all the time. The number one symptom that most people report is feeling tired. Extreme fatigue even after sleeping a full night is an indication of a low functioning thyroid.
Symptoms of Low Thyroid
- Feeling jittery or anxious
- Feeling depressed
- Difficulty concentrating, brain fog
- Increased cold sensitivity
- A fluttering feeling in your chest (heart palpitations)
- Dry, itchy skin
- Hair loss (excess hair fall when brushing)
- No appetite
- Frequent, heavy menstrual cycles
Low thyroid reduces the number of hormones produced which results in the symptoms listed above. This is not an exact list and you may not have all the symptoms listed. The only way to be sure is to see a doctor and get a proper diagnosis. The doctor will test your blood to analyze your hormone levels and determine if your hormone levels are low.
How is Hypothyroidism Diagnosed?
In most cases, a simple blood test is all that is needed to determine thyroid function.
Diagnosing hypothyroidism is based on the results of blood tests and your physical symptoms. The doctor will usually perform a Thyroid-Stimulating Hormone test (TSH) first and then check hormone levels. If you have a high level of TSH but low levels of thyroxine, the hormone your thyroid naturally produces, that is a good indication of an underactive thyroid.
The doctor may do a few other tests as well to rule out other conditions with the same symptoms. The quicker you get a diagnosis, the quicker you can begin treatment.
What Is the Treatment for Low Thyroid?
There are a couple of different options when it comes to treating thyroid conditions. Most patients respond well to thyroid medications, but for those that don’t, surgical removal of the thyroid gland and hormone replacement therapy is often necessary. The thyroid is a small gland shaped like a butterfly located in the neck.
The standard treatment for under-functioning thyroid is the use of synthetic thyroid hormones such as levothyroxine. It may also be called Synthroid or Levo-T. This synthetic hormone will take over and restore your hormone balance, and many of the symptoms you are experiencing will disappear.
The doctor will monitor your progress for the next few months to make sure you are getting the right dose of medication. It can take a while to get this right. He or she may need to start you out on a lower dose and raise it slowly, depending on what other health conditions you may have.
You should begin to feel better soon after starting the treatment. The dry, itchy skin will go away, and the weight you gained should also start going down. You may need to take this medication for the rest of your life, but it is worth it to feel good and have your energy back.
You don’t need to feel down and tired all the time. These are not symptoms of normal aging. With the right treatment, you can be back on the road to health and happiness. If you’re ready to make a change in your life, call 205-352-9141. We can help.