Your thyroid gland helps regulate your metabolism, so it can have a huge impact on your weight and energy levels.
Hypothyroidism, also known as underactive thyroid, happens when your thyroid doesn’t produce enough hormones. It’s not uncommon; in fact, almost 4% of the U.S. population suffers from some form of hypothyroidism. Read on to learn about underactive thyroid symptoms and what you can do to help yourself feel better and get back to living life to the fullest!
A blood test is commonly used to diagnose hypothyroidism. It checks for your thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) levels, which are high if you have an underactive thyroid. Your doctor may also perform a physical exam and take your medical history, especially if you have symptoms that suggest other issues or problems. If there's no noticeable cause of hypothyroidism, your doctor may order more tests, including imaging scans of your thyroid gland to check its size and appearance.
Once you've been diagnosed with hypothyroidism, it's important to take a few steps to get treatment as soon as possible. First, you'll need to begin taking thyroid hormone replacement medication, which can be taken as a pill or as an injection.
If your hypothyroidism was caused by another condition, such as pregnancy or Hashimoto's disease—an autoimmune disorder that targets your thyroid gland—your doctor may recommend treatment for those conditions first. In some cases, medications other than thyroid hormones may be used instead of or in combination with hormone replacement medication if they're more appropriate for your situation.
As soon as you start taking hormone replacement medication, you should feel better within a few weeks and have a normal metabolic rate within a few months.
The following is a diagram to help you understand how diagnosis decision-making happens based on blood tests.
Thyroid hormone is produced by your thyroid gland, located in your neck. When your thyroid doesn’t produce enough hormones, you have an underactive thyroid or hypothyroidism.
This condition may cause symptoms including tiredness, weight gain, and difficulty concentrating. Fortunately, you can check for an underactive thyroid with a blood test. Keep reading to learn more about symptoms of an underactive thyroid and how to manage it if necessary.
These are some of the signs of an underactive thyroid or hypothyroidism:
The word hypothyroidism comes from hypo, meaning low, and thyroid, referring to your thyroid gland. Your thyroid is a gland located in your neck (butterfly shape). Hormones produced by your thyroid control how fast your body uses energy makes proteins and regulate heart rate and blood pressure.
One common symptom of an underactive thyroid is tiredness, but there are several other symptoms you should be aware of. If you suspect that you have an underactive thyroid, it’s important to talk to your doctor.
According to research, less than one in five people with an underactive thyroid condition has been diagnosed and treated for it. If you think you might be suffering from hypothyroidism, tell your doctor.
Don’t self-diagnose; only a medical professional can officially diagnose an underactive thyroid. There are several tests that can help your doctor determine if you’re suffering from hypothyroidism, such as blood tests and/or a physical exam of your thyroid gland. However, there’s no single test that can definitively diagnose an underactive thyroid — especially if yours is mild — so it may take some time before doctors can make a proper diagnosis and treatment plan.
Hypothyroidism can be successfully treated with a combination of dietary changes, exercise, and nutritional supplements. Here are some natural remedies for hypothyroidism that you might want to try out.
According to research, selenium is a trace element that plays a part in thyroid hormone metabolism.
Many foods contain selenium, including:
Sugar and processed foods can lead to increased inflammation in the body.
Inflammation can slow down the conversion of T4 to triiodothyronine, or T3, another thyroid hormone. This can make your symptoms and thyroid disease worsen.
Also, sugar only boosts your energy level in the short term, eliminating it from your diet may help regulate your energy levels. Additionally, removing sugar from your diet may help your stress levels and skin.
It’s not easy to adopt a sugar-free diet, but the benefit to your thyroid health may be worth it.
Researchers have studied the link between hypothyroidism and small intestine problems.
It was found that altered gastrointestinal (GI) motility commonly seen with hypothyroidism can cause small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) and ultimately lead to chronic GI symptoms, such as diarrhea.
Probiotic supplements contain live helpful bacteria that can help keep your stomach and intestines healthy.
Besides supplement forms, fermented food and drink, such as kefir, kombucha, some cheeses, and yogurt contain useful probiotics.
Adopting a gluten-free diet is a blessing in disguise for those with hypothyroidism.
According to the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness (NFCA), a significant number of people with thyroid disease also have celiac disease. Celiac disease is a digestive disorder in which gluten triggers an immune response in the small intestines.
Research doesn’t currently support a gluten-free diet for the treatment of thyroid disease. However, many people with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis and hypothyroidism feel significantly better after removing wheat and other gluten-containing foods from their diet.
Taking certain vitamin supplements can have a profound effect on your thyroid health.
Low thyroid hormones can affect your body’s utilization of vitamin B-12. Taking a vitamin B-12 supplement may help you repair some of the damage hypothyroidism caused.
Vitamin B-12 can help with the tiredness thyroid disease can cause. The disease also affects your vitamin B-1 levels. You can add more B vitamins to your diet with the following foods:
Vitamin B-12 is generally very safe for most healthy individuals at recommended levels. Talk with your doctor about what dosage of vitamin B-12 may be right for you.
But before using any herbal supplement, make sure you consult your doctor first. For instance, ashwagandha is best avoided if you're already taking certain medications or have certain medical conditions—including heart disease or cancer—because it may interact with them in harmful ways. Dandelion root supplements aren't recommended during pregnancy either. Again, please check with your doctor before adding any kind of herbal remedy to your health regimen.
Another natural supplement that can help is called desiccated thyroid extract. This is made from dried pig thyroid glands and works just like your own thyroid gland, stimulating all of your body's systems. It's a safe and effective treatment for many people with hypothyroidism, so talk to your doctor about it if you want to try it out.
After a few months of treatment, you should feel much better. In some cases, your doctor may recommend that you stay on your natural remedies for hypothyroidism indefinitely—and if that's the case, then it's best to start slowly and with small doses to minimize any side effects. Over time, you can slowly increase your dosage until you achieve optimal results.
Lab Me offers a comprehensive thyroid test and a thyroid antibody test so you can test your thyroid from the comfort of your own home. This is an inexpensive alternative to going to a doctor or medical lab for testing, but it isn't meant as a substitute for professional medical advice. If you notice any unusual symptoms or have concerns about your health, speak with your doctor right away.