Millions of people in the US suffer from health issues affecting the thyroid gland. Almost 90% of all thyroid imbalances are due to an underactive thyroid gland, and the medical condition is termed as hypothyroidism. Hyperthyroidism or an overactive thyroid gland is a much rarer occurrence.
The telltale symptoms of hypothyroidism can easily be mistaken for any other health condition, and gets misdiagnosed and mistreated. As a result the patient experiencing the debilitating symptoms of hypothyroidism continues to suffer with no access to proper treatment or medication.
To tackle hypothyroidism in a timely and effective manner, it is very important that you learn to recognize the symptoms and take action right away. You need to be attuned to the needs and requirements of your body, and must be alert to signs of hormones going out of whack or any other imbalances.
Here are a few ways in which you can recognize symptoms of a malfunctioning thyroid and how you can go about improving your wellbeing.
1. Look out for Evident Signs
It is often easy to dismiss fatigue, moodiness, forgetfulness and weight gain and attribute them to hormones, aging, pregnancy or wrong lifestyle. But it takes a thorough diagnosis and an experienced doctor to properly assess your case. So ensure that as soon as you notice no improvement in your condition even after being diagnosed and treated, change your doctor and opt for a re-evaluation.
Dry skin, thinning hair, puffiness around eyes, cold hands and feet, constipation, pain in joints and brittle nails are other signs that indicate thyroid hormone imbalance.
2. Test Comprehensively
As soon as your physician doubts thyroid imbalance, she will recommend a series of thyroid hormone imbalance tests to determine the exact cause of the condition. TSH or thyroid stimulating hormone testing is the first step towards determining the role of the butterfly-shaped gland in your health condition. The TSH hormone is secreted by the pituitary gland to stimulate production of thyroid hormones. When there is an imbalance in TSH it will invariably affect the thyroid gland as well. If the test shows that the level of TSH is very low in your body, then the thyroid gland will not be able to secrete required amounts of T3 and T4 hormones leading to hypothyroidism.
3. T4 Testing
This test helps accurately predict your thyroid health. Adequate level of T4 hormone shows that your thyroid is working perfectly. The pituitary gland detects the level of T4 in blood and sends appropriate amount of TSH to the thyroid gland to maintain the level. If T4 level is too low there will be a high level of TSH in your blood, urging the thyroid gland to secrete more hormones. If T4 level is high, the level of TSH in your body will also consequently fall.
T4 again cannot solely indicate thyroid health. It is an inactive form of thyroid hormone and a small portion of it gets converted into the active T3 form, which initiates and controls cellular functions. T3 binds with protein and travels through blood to reach the target cells. Once at the receptor site the proteins are dislodged and the potent Free T3 enters the cells to carry out critical tasks. So ensure that your doctor tests you for Free T3 as well to understand your thyroid health. Hormone testing is a powerful and effective method of determining thyroid function.
Test Yourself at Home
In addition to these tests, it is also possible to test for thyroid problems at home. One of the most uncomfortable symptoms of thyroid malfunctioning is persistently feeling cold or freezing. The basal body temperature of a person with poor thyroid health is almost always low or very high. This is because the thyroid gland is struggling to release adequate amount of hormones to maintain a steady and normal body temperature. Many cellular functions are also adversely affected when the body temperature is too high or too low.
In order to test yourself at home, you need to get your body temperature measured every day in the morning, as soon as you wake up. A high quality digital thermometer is necessary to get accurate measurement. In the morning, the temperature needs to be measured without you making an effort to get up or be active. Place the thermometer by your bedside and measure your body temperature for three consecutive days. The normal resting body temperatures are between 97.8 to 98.2 degrees Fahrenheit or 36.6 to 36.8 degrees Celsius. If yours falls below this range, then you can possibly have a problem with the thyroid gland.
It is possible to conduct hormone tests in the comforts of your home and keep a close watch on your wellbeing. Home tests are an effective diagnostic tool, but the results always need to be verified and further analyzed by a trained doctor.
The thyroid gland is extremely important to all our bodily functions and plays a very crucial role in determining that our body works as a well oiled machine. Ensure that you keep yours healthy and hearty, and avoid unnecessary health complications. Treatment can range from medications and surgeries to natural remedies that can support a healthier thyroid function.