Sophie used to be a busybody. In fact, she’s the most energetic woman in her church group. However, when Sophie started gaining weight, people also noticed that she seemed to have slowed down considerably. Even Sophie will admit to it. The 20 pounds she gained seemed to have the effect of keeping her in bed longer every morning. She started feeling more tired almost all the time. The really sad part? She wasn’t even eating any more or less than she used to. The weight just kept piling up and she didn’t really know why. On top of feeling tired, she became more irritable and would often snap at people for the littlest things.
Sophie eventually went to see a doctor. He gave her a blood test. The good doctor feared Sophie may have an underactive thyroid, her symptoms certainly fit. Her levels came back very high. And so Sophie was diagnosed with hypothyroidism and put on medication to treat her condition. A few months later, Sophie is back to normal.
Sophie isn’t alone in this predicament, however. In the US alone, over 13 million people have been diagnosed with a thyroid problem. 1 in every 8 Americans over 65 are very likely to develop thyroid problems and experts fear that the 13 million? They may just be the tip of the iceberg.
The thyroid gland plays a very crucial role in almost every bodily function. It plays a part in heart rate, metabolism, muscles, even mood. Underactive thyroids do not produce enough of the thyroid hormones. When this happens, the body starts pumping out extra thyroid stimulating hormones or TSH.
The insufficient amounts of thyroid hormone can cause any of the following symptoms to appear:
- weight gain
- dry skin
- dry hair
- unhealthy nails
On the flip side, an overactive thyroid produces too much of the thyroid hormone and trigger weight loss, insomnia and anxiety.
The problem with hypothyroidism, however, is the symptoms are almost the same as with other illnesses like anemia, diabetes, sleep deprivation and depression. This makes it harder for doctors to diagnose.
Even when already diagnosed, though, the treatment may not always work. Take the case of Grace. She showed all the classic signs of hypothyroidism starting with feeling excessively tired. She went to get tested and her TSH levels were borderline normal. She wasn’t given anything for the symptoms.
A couple of weeks later, she saw an endocrinologist who decided to put her on medication regardless of the TSH test result. It only took two weeks to get her feeling better.
So as you can see, symptoms may really matter more than what the tests say.
If you are feeling more tired than usual and found yourself nodding to the other symptoms listed above, then you may just have a thyroid problem. Don’t just stop with the realization, though. Take action.
- Get tested to know your TSH number.
- See an endocrinologist.
- Ask for a repeat test if your TSH level is borderline.
- Rule out other health conditions.
You may be feeling more tired than usual. And for all you know, your body may just need to settle down and take a few days of rest. But if the feeling doesn’t go away, it’s still better to see a doctor. You may have a thyroid problem and may not know it. It’s a condition that can easily be treated, but only if it can be diagnosed.