Well after months of dragging my butt around and feeling like crap, weight gain, extremely low blood pressure, a serious bout of depression, lack of enthusiasm for life and only doing low intensity exercise – because anything vigorous really hasn’t been an option… I’ve finally have found a health-care provider with enough brain-cells to start seriously looking for the root of the problem. It’s almost a relief to know that my mood swings, and symptoms are not just “all in my head,” but there is an actual medical reason why I feel so out of balance – Hypothyroidism.
After extensive lab-work, one of the things that showed up was a need for some attention to my hormone balance especially my thyroid levels. I’ve had my thyroid levels checked…not regularly, but every so often. Evidently it’s been awhile and things are seriously out of whack!
The thyroid gland is a vitally important butterfly-shaped hormonal gland located in the front of the neck below the voice box. Hypothyroidism is when the thyroid gland does not produce enough thyroid hormone for the body’s systems to function properly. Our thyroid hormones help control metabolism.
Underactive thyroid or Hypothyroidism is more common in women and people over the age of 50. I had thyroid surgery in my 20’s so with only one functioning gland, it’s easy to see why now, almost thirty years later; I’m in the age range to need a little extra thyroid support. But, there are lots of other reasons your thyroid gland may not be functioning properly.
Here are some of the signs and symptoms of Hypothyroidism:
Early warning signs:
Hard stools / constipation
Sensitivity to cold
Fatigue or feel slow
Heavy menstrual periods
Joint or muscle pain
Paleness / dry skin
Sadness / depression
Thin, brittle hair or fingernails
Weight gain without trying
Elevated serum cholesterol
Late symptoms, if left untreated:
Decreased taste & smell
Puffy face, hands, and feet
Thickening of the skin
Thinning of eyebrows
Lack of libido
I realize that many of these might be signs and symptoms for a host of other health issues! The best way to determine if your thyroid hormone levels are at a healthy level is through labwork. If you think this might be an issue for you, get in for a consultation with your doctor and express your concerns to see if testing your thyroid levels is an appropriate next step for improving your health.
While I am not a fan of taking medication, sometimes it IS necessary for the maintenance of good health. Thyroid levels can return to normal with treatment, (and as an FYI treatment is for the rest of your natural life!) I think that the amount needed might fluctuate, so it’s good to keep the signs and symptoms in mind. Whether you’ve got hypothyroidism or are 100% healthy, if you start to feel a little off-kilter and it’s been awhile since you’ve seen your doctor or had your thyroid levels tested, it may be time for a check-up.
There are no preventative measures for hypothyroidism, but it is easily treatable.
I suppose in some ways this is a good thing. I can’t get upset that there was something I “could have” or “should have” been doing and didn’t (like eat right & exercise) to avoid the problem. But I have to admit that I haven’t been pro-active enough to be the squeaky-wheel that something was wrong and needed to be fixed.
Keeping our hormone levels in balance is a very important part of maintaining our health. If you’re like me and have been dragging around just thinking that you’ve got the mid-winter blues but it’s not really getting better, consider a check-up. With your doctor’s expert help, whether it’s a thyroid issue or something else, there may be a quick and easy “fix” to help your body function better and get back to feeling like your normal healthy and happy self. If anything is out of balance, sooner or later everything will be out of balance! Don’t wait. Take charge of your health and be sure everything is working well to keep you 100% healthy.