Symptoms and Tests That Confirm Thyroid Problems
Posted on 14 May 2020
The thyroid gland is a tiny, butterfly shaped gland situated right in the front of the neck. Not only is it responsible for metabolism, growth and cell repair in the body, but also regulates almost all other functions in the body. It controls the heartbeat, provides energy to all other organs and regulates the functioning of the digestive system as well as the reproductive system. The entire body’s hormones and functions remain well when the thyroid gland functions properly and normal thyroid levels are maintained.
Thyroid problems arise when the normal thyroid levels are no longer maintained in the body due to malfunction of the thyroid gland. It can at times be underactive, causing extremely low levels of thyroxine in the body. This is a condition known as hypothyroidism which affects women mostly and can happen at any age. At other times, there may be excess secretion of thyroxine and the normal thyroid levels become once again become imbalanced. This condition is called hyperthyroidism which leads to excess weight loss. These thyroid problems can be detected through few routine tests and the person can lead an absolutely normal life with timely diagnosis and treatment. The treatment procedure is absolutely safe and painless. You would be given medications to correct hormonal imbalances in the body and supplement the thyroxine artificially to restore normal thyroid levels. It is necessary to recognize the signs and symptoms of thyroid problems and report them before it’s late. Know about the prominent signs and symptoms to understand whether you are suffering from thyroid problems.
Signs and Symptoms of Hypothyroidism
One of the major reasons for hypothyroidism can be the body’s immune system mistakenly attacking the thyroid gland. Naturally, the immune system of the body fights foreign bacteria and viruses entering the body and destroys them. In abnormal conditions, they fight healthy cells too and result in autoimmune diseases like hypothyroidism. This condition is called Hashimoto’s disease where the thyroid becomes underactive and inflamed. This leads to reduced production of thyroxine and the normal thyroid levels suffer in the body.
There are different signs and symptoms of thyroid problems varying from one person to another. The early signs may be difficult to find but when the condition becomes severe there are several confirmed signs of hypothyroidism. Talk to your doctor and get the necessary tests done when you begin to find these signs of hypothyroidism. These are:-
- Weight gain
- Cold sensitivity
- Dry skin
- Increased muscle weakness
- Stiffness in joints
- Joint pain
- Decreased heart rate
- High blood cholesterol
- Medium to extreme hair loss
- Irregular periods
- Abnormally heavy or light periods
- Mood swings
Fatigue and weight gain are the first signs that you will get to see in hypothyroidism. The later symptoms start to develop once the thyroxine levels get very low.
Signs and Symptoms of Hyperthyroidism
The problem with hyperthyroidism is that the symptoms do not surface until an advanced stage. Some of the visible signs and symptoms of hyperthyroidism are:-
- Extreme weight loss
- Increase in appetite
- Heat intolerance
- Palpitations and increased heart rate
- Menstrual irregularities
- Changes in vision
- Sleep disturbances
- Mental disturbance
- Mood swings and panic attacks
Medical Evaluation and Tests for Detecting Thyroid Problems
When you report signs and symptoms of hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism to your doctor, you may be asked to go through a physical examination and the doctor may check your medical history first. A history of thyroid problems in the family may suggest the chances of having hypothyroidism. The doctor may question about whether you are experiencing fatigue, increase or reduction in heart rate, slowed reflexes, pain, breast tenderness, depression and irregularity in your menstrual cycle. Furthermore, there are various tests to confirm the presence of thyroid problems in the body. You may have to go through blood tests to check whether you have normal thyroid levels. That’s the best way to confirm the presence of hypothyroidism and decide the course of diagnosis.
- Thyroid Stimulating Hormone Test
Patients are made to undergo a TSH (Thyroid Stimulating Hormone) Test to check whether you have normal TSH levels. The Thyroid Stimulating Hormone is secreted by the pituitary gland and its level rise up when the thyroid is not producing enough thyroxine and the normal thyroid levels are upset in the body. In such a situation the pituitary gland boosts the normal TSH levels to stimulate the thyroid gland to produce more thyroid hormones. Thus, a TSH test is very necessary to confirm whether the body has excess of TSH or normal TSH levels. When TSH is found to be higher than normal in the body, it confirms hypothyroidism. On the contrary, when TSH levels are found to be excessively low in the body, it confirms the condition of hyperthyroidism. It helps to decide the course of diagnosis.
- Thyroxine level test or T4 test
Another test necessary to confirm thyroid problems is a T4 test or Thyroxine test. It also helps to detect and decide the diagnosis of hypothyroidism. Thyroxine is one of the hormones secreted by the thyroid gland. Thyroxine and TSH together regulate the function of the thyroid gland. Normal thyroid levels won’t reflect in your blood test report in case of low production of thyroxine in the body. Low levels of thyroxine and a higher than normal TSH level suggest the present of hypothyroidism and the opposite confirms hyperthyroidism.
Diagnosis for Thyroid Problems
Treatment is available for all thyroid problems and seeking the right diagnosis at the right moment can help you lead a normal life.
⮚ Treatment for Hyperthyroidism
If you are diagnosed with hypothyroidism, medications will be prescribed to you by your doctor to reduce the symptoms and artificially supplement the level of thyroxine in the body. This restores the normal thyroid levels in the body. The most prescribed drug to supplement thyroxine in the body is levothyroxine or Levoxyl. This drug mimics the natural function of thyroxine hormone in the body. Once the body finds the normal thyroid levels in the blood, all the symptoms start to disappear and you begin to lead a normal life again. You just need to take the medicines regularly, go for check-ups and have follow-up tests. These tests check whether the body has normal levels of thyroxine and normal TSH levels to ensure that the medicines are working properly.
⮚ Treatment for Hyperthyroidism
Hyperthyroidism treatment aims to reduce the levels of thyroxine in the body and restore normal thyroid levels. The primary forms of treatment are surgical removal of a part of the thyroid gland to avoid hypothyroidism and also make the gland produce normal levels of thyroid hormones. Sometimes, radiation and medication can be used to lower the production of thyroxine in the body and restore normal thyroid levels.
Thyroid problems are common in most women and there is nothing to worry about them. You can lead a perfectly normal life for years with proper diagnosis. Along with the right medications you must also follow a balanced diet to control the thyroxine levels in your body. Your doctor will prescribe you the things to eat and the foods to avoid along with the medicines to take. In case of hypothyroidism, you must have iodine rich salt and seafood, whole grains and lean meat proteins. At the same time, you must limit or stop the intake of cruciferous vegetables like kale, broccoli and cabbage, soy milk products like tofu and soybeans, and foods rich in high fibre. Similarly, in case of hyperthyroidism, you must avoid taking iodine rich food in the body to limit the levels thyroxine secretion in the body. You must also include herbs necessary for your thyroid condition to have the best effect on your hormonal levels and get them to a balanced state normally. For instance, tulsi and ashwagandha infused teas are perfect for patients of hypothyroidism as they regulate the flow of thyroxine and maintain overall balance. Lemon balm and sage are the herbs that can be included to flavour your dishes if you are suffering from hyperthyroidism and you can feel the benefits yourself. There is no harm to try herbal products like green tea, along with medicines for the best effect.
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