Hypothyroidism (or an under-active thyroid) is a condition that occurs in people who’s thyroid gland is not producing enough of the hormone. Around 15 in every 1,000 women and 1 in every 1,000 men have been diagnosed with the condition and it is believed that many more people live with the condition undiagnosed. This is mainly due to hypothyroidism not being picked up as the root of the cause for many symptoms. And there are many many symptoms of hypothyroidism.

  • Weight gain
  • Fatigue
  • Slow movements, thought and speech
  • Pins and needles
  • Breathlessness
  • Dizziness
  • Palpitations
  • Loss of libido
  • Dry/gritty eyes
  • Hoarse voice
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Hair loss especially outer third of eyebrows
  • Dry skin
  • Muscle and joint pain
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Loss of appetite
  • Constipation

(see Thyroid UK’s website) To name a few!

Most people don’t get diagnosed until in their 40s or 50s, it’s thought to be linked to the menopause, however there are still many who have this condition younger and which also contributes to so many being undiagnosed.

I was lucky that my GP thought to check my thyroid levels and picked up that I have an under-active thyroid at the age of 27. This was potentially because my mom has the condition and one of the ways of contracting it is through your genes.

Other causes are through too little iodine in the diet, thyroid surgery, radiation therapy to the neck area, pregnancy, or Hashimoto’s (plus many more). Hashimoto’s is the most common cause with 90% of those with hypothyroidism having it. It’s an autoimmune disease where your body produces antibodies which attack the thyroid and thus decrease the release of the thyroid hormone to the body.

If you have a combination of the above symptoms it’s worth asking your GP for a blood test to check the thyroid hormone levels. They will need to check the TSH, T4 and T3 levels – after some recent research I have only just realised I should be checking my T3 levels as well as TSH and T4. Normal levels are considered to be:

Test    From    To    Units  
0.4 4.0 mU/L (milliunits per litre)
9.0 25.0 pmol/L (picomoles per litre)
3.5 7.8 pmol/L (picomoles per litre)

These are taken from British Thyroid Foundation’s website, where it also explains what it means if your results are outside of these norms.

1 Comment

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