The first thing to understand about hypothyroidism — a condition in which your body produces too few thyroid hormones — is that it’s fairly common. Still, despite the fact that nearly 5% of Americans age 12 or older have hypothyroidism, many don’t know the condition exists because side effects are minimal or easily attributed to other problems.
As a practice that specializes in endocrinology and, more specifically, thyroid disease, Sean P. Nikravan, MD, understands that the symptoms associated with hypothyroidism can range from barely noticeable to hard-to-ignore, and everything in between.
Here, we take a look at the potential signs of an under-producing thyroid to help you identify whether you might have an issue.
What thyroid hormones do
A great way to recognize the signs of hypothyroidism is to understand the issue from a different angle — what your thyroid hormones do in your body.
Your thyroid is a gland in your throat that produces two primary hormones: Triiodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine (T4). These hormones regulate some important areas of your health, including your:
- Energy levels
- Body temperature
- Skin, hair, and nail growth
From that list of what your thyroid hormones accomplish, you can begin to understand what might happen when there’s a deficit.
The effects of not having enough thyroid hormones
If you have thyroid disease and the gland isn’t producing enough T3s and T4s, you may feel the effects in a number of different ways, including:
- Weight gain
- Low energy levels
- Pale, dry skin
- Dry, thinning hair
- Joint and muscle pain
- Feeling cold
- A slower-than-normal heart rate
- Irregular periods, heavy bleeding, and infertility in women
As you might imagine, the severity of these symptoms depends upon the degree of the hormone deficit.
Compounding matters, each of these symptoms can be related to other issues — your joint pain might be due to osteoarthritis, or your depression may be a standalone issue.
A good way to determine whether hypothyroidism might be present is if you have some combination of the symptoms listed without any obvious cause. For example, you feel exhausted all of the time and you’ve gained weight, yet you sleep just fine and you’ve mustered up the energy to exercise.
Of course, that strategy is still a guessing game. The best way to determine whether you’re affected by hypothyroidism is to come in to see us. During your visit, we can review your symptoms and conduct some quick-and-easy testing to check your levels of thyroid hormones.
If we find a hormone deficit, we identify the underlying cause, and Dr. Nikravan may prescribe hormone replacement medication so you can feel like yourself again.
Could your symptoms point to a thyroid issue? For expert diagnosis and care of hypothyroidism, please contact our office in Newport Beach, California, to set up an appointment.