Your body is made up of many different systems, including the nervous system, endocrine system, and immune system. Each system has its own set of organs and glands, which work together to keep the body healthy.
One such gland is the thyroid gland. Your thyroid gland is a butterfly-shaped gland in your neck that makes hormones that control how fast your body uses energy, how it uses proteins and fats, and how it stores these nutrients. Thyroid hormones also affect brain development, heart function, and bone strength.
Hypothyroidism is a condition in which the thyroid gland does not produce enough of certain key hormones (known as thyroxine and triiodothyronine), which help regulate metabolism. Some of the most common symptoms include hair loss, feeling tired, weight gain, and depression.
If you notice that your hair is thinning or shedding easily, or if you feel unusually tired even after a good night’s sleep, then it may be time for your next test. If the diagnosis is hypothyroidism, you should also check for other common symptoms.
What Is An Underactive Thyroid?
Underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism) is a condition that occurs when your thyroid gland doesn’t make enough thyroid hormone. Thyroid hormone is important for good health because it helps control how your body uses energy, makes proteins, and controls how sensitive your body is to other hormones.
If you have an underactive thyroid, you may feel tired and gain weight. You may also have trouble concentrating, or your skin and hair may look pale and thin.
In most cases, hypothyroidism can be treated with daily doses of synthetic thyroid hormones. However, some people need to take these medications for life.
Causes Of Underactive Thyroid
An underactive thyroid can be caused by several things, such as:
1. Hashimoto’s Disease (Autoimmune)
It is a gradual destruction of the thyroid gland that results from antibodies attacking its cells.
Infections such as mononucleosis or strep throat can affect the thyroid gland and cause it to become underactive. Viral infections are more common in children than adults.
3. Cancer Treatment
Cancer treatment is also another cause of hypothyroidism. During cancer treatments, the radioactive iodine therapy damages the thyroid gland, which leads to lower levels of thyroid hormone.
4. Iodine Deficiency
A lack of iodine in your diet can cause hypothyroidism. If you don’t have enough iodine in your diet, your body will be unable to produce the T4 hormone needed for the proper functioning of your thyroid gland and other organs such as your brain and heart muscle. Iodine deficiency is rare in developed countries because iodized salt has been added since 1924 to table salt.
Signs And Symptoms Of An Underactive Thyroid
The signs and symptoms of hyperthyroidism vary from person to person. Some people may have only mild symptoms, while others may have severe symptoms that affect their daily lives. If you have an underactive thyroid, you may have some or all of these symptoms:
1. Fast Heart Rate (Tachycardia)
Fast heart rate (tachycardia) can be a symptom of hypothyroidism because the thyroid hormone helps keep your heart rate steady. If you have hypothyroidism and your heart is beating too fast, you may feel faint or dizzy because it’s not getting enough oxygen-rich blood.
2. Anxiety And Irritability
Anxiety and irritability are two common symptoms of hypothyroidism. They may also occur with other conditions and are not specific to low thyroid levels. However, they are more likely to occur in people who have hypothyroidism than those who don’t.
3. Heat Intolerance
Heat intolerance is when your body has trouble regulating its temperature in response to hot or cold temperatures — or both. Some people with hypothyroidism may feel their body temperature rising during exercise or when they’re in a room with a high-temperature setting.
4. Pain In Your Joints And Muscles, Especially In The Neck Area
Pain in your joints and muscles is a common symptom. The pain can be mild or severe and may be accompanied by stiffness or tenderness. It can be caused by many things, but as an underactive thyroid is one of them, it is important that you speak to your doctor about any pain that you may be experiencing.
5. Feeling Cold All The Time (Especially Hands And Feet)
If you have hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid), you may feel cold all the time. This is because your body isn’t producing enough heat to keep you warm. However, it’s important to remember that hypothyroidism is only one of many possible causes of feeling cold all the time.
6. Loss Of Appetite
This means that food intake cannot be regulated properly, and the patient may experience hunger pangs even when their stomach is empty. The patient may also feel nauseous if they eat too much at once or if they eat too fast.
7. Dry Skin And Brittle Nails
People with hypothyroidism usually have dry skin and brittle nails. Dry skin can be itchy or tingle and may crack or peel. Brittle nails can be thickened or split.
8. Constipation And Heartburn
Constipation may cause you to notice changes in your bowel movements. Your digestive system may have trouble absorbing nutrients and fluid from foods, so it can take longer for food to move through the intestines and colon (large intestine).
9. Unexplained Weight Gain Or Weight Loss
Weight gain is more common than weight loss with an underactive thyroid. In fact, up to 80% of people with hypothyroidism gain weight. It’s thought that this is because the body burns fewer calories when it doesn’t have enough thyroid hormone.
10. Fatigue And Weakness
An underactive thyroid can make you feel tired, weak, and fatigued. You may have trouble getting out of bed in the morning and have low energy throughout the day. You may also have trouble thinking clearly or concentrating on anything other than what’s directly in front of you.
11. Tremors In The Hands And Feet
These movements are seen in a rhythmic manner, such as when you would tap your foot while waiting for something. The tremor may be more noticeable when you’re trying to perform a task that requires fine motor skills (such as writing) or during stressful situations (such as public speaking). Tremors may be worse at night or when you’re tired.
12. Frequent Bowel Movements Or Diarrhea
It may be due to inappropriate secretion of gastrointestinal hormones or malabsorption. The frequent bowel movements can also be caused by poor diet, gluten intolerance, and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
13. Sore Throat, Hoarseness, Or Husky Voice
A sore throat is usually the first sign of an underactive thyroid. This is because the thyroid gland plays a role in producing saliva. In fact, one study found that more than 60% of people with hypothyroidism had frequent sore throats.
14. Muscle Cramps
Muscle cramps can occur in any muscle group but are particularly common in the calves, thighs, arms, and behind the knee. They are often accompanied by tenderness on pressure, which is not painful when you stretch the muscle.
15. Sluggishness (Lethargy)
If you have a sluggish feeling in your body, you may be suffering from hypothyroidism, which is why it doesn’t produce enough hormones to regulate your metabolism. It’s important to treat hypothyroidism early on to avoid complications such as heart disease, obesity, and infertility.
Conclusion & Takeaway
Constantly feeling tired, dry skin, and brittle nails. There are many symptoms that you can look out for. Make sure you take note of what they are, so if you or someone you know has them, you can ask a doctor.
See your doctor if you have symptoms of hypothyroidism and they don’t go away on their own. Your doctor can check your thyroid function with a blood test called TSH (thyroid-stimulating hormone). If you have normal levels of TSH but other signs or symptoms of hypothyroidism, you may be diagnosed with subclinical hypothyroidism.
If you have subclinical hypothyroidism, taking levothyroxine replacement therapy will help relieve symptoms and prevent complications from developing.