Q. I’ve been having a difficult time losing weight. I hear hypothyroidism is on the rise. Should I get tested?
A. You are on the right track when you consider this question. While it is predicted that 59 million people in the U.S. suffer from a thyroid problem, most of them are not yet aware of it! When there is a family history for a thyroid condition, you are at a higher risk for having it, too.
When the thyroid is not performing properly, it can alter your metabolism, affecting weight loss, energy and depression.
It’s crucial that if thyroid problems are suspected that you do not go undiagnosed because you would be at a higher risk for:
- Heart disease
- Hair loss
- Sexual problems
Symptoms for Thyroid Dysfunction
These are the most common signs that something is wrong with your thyroid:
Lethargy – An overwhelming feeling of tiredness or exhaustion may be experienced despite the amount of sleep. Insomnia may occur leading to fatigue extending throughout the day.
Weight – Difficulty losing weight may occur despite a strict diet and arduous exercise routine. On the flip side, there may be baffling weight changes despite maintaining the same diet and activity.
Muscle Aches, Joint Pains – Weakness in muscles may be subtle initially, but come to your attention when trying to climb stairs or even get up out of chairs due to aches and weakness of the thigh muscles. Carpal tunnels may occur in the wrists. Various joints may become painful.
Hair loss – Hair may become more coarse, dry and brittle. It could also break and fall out more often.
Skin Changes – Skin can develop into a thick, dry and scaly condition.
Neck Swelling – An enlarged thyroid gland may appear as an enlargement in the center of the neck (goiter) and may be accompanied by discomfort and a hoarse, raspy voice.
Hypermenorrhea/Dysmenorrhea – You may experience heavier, irregular periods, more often. They may be more painful than usual.
Bowel Changes – Constipation is linked with a slow thyroid. This may be severe or chronic.
Mood Changes – Panic attacks, depression or anxiety appearing suddenly may be a clue that you are suffering from hypothyroidism. The depression may not react typically to the usual antidepressants.
High Cholesterol – Your level of cholesterol may be high and not respond to cholesterol-lowering medications. Exercise and diet may also fail to improve the cholesterol panel. This picture is a clue to hypothyroidism.
You don’t have to have all of these symptoms to consider an underactive thyroid condition. Initially, you may only have 2-3 symptoms, and they may be so subtle that you don’t notice them.
Since weight loss is an issue for you, having your blood tested for a thyroid condition would be a great idea! It will eliminate future frustration and leave you with a positive plan of action.