The thyroid is a small butterfly gland in the front of your windpipe that produces hormones that affect things like your heart rate, metabolism, and body temperature. Since the thyroid controls some very important functions of your body, it can be detrimental to your health if it is not working properly. A thyroid that is not functioning properly can cause a condition called hypothyroidism which is when it is not producing enough hormones or it can produce too many hormones causing hyperthyroidism. Both conditions are serious and need to be treated by a doctor.
What are the symptoms of a hormonal imbalance of the thyroid?
Having an underactive thyroid causes multiple symptoms that can affect everyday life for the person suffering from the condition.
Common symptoms include:
- Weight gain
- Muscle aches and cramps
- Numbness and tingling in the hands
- Trouble concentrating
- Dry and brittle nails and hair
- Irregular and heavy periods
- Puffy face
- Slowed heart rate
Symptoms normally develop slowly and can mimic those of other conditions, which is why many people with hypothyroidism can go undiagnosed. Recent studies have estimated that 1 in 10 Canadians suffer from a thyroid condition and there could be as many as 50% that are undiagnosed.
How is hypothyroidism diagnosed?
Doctors will use a combination of the symptoms you are experiencing, personal and family medical history, and a blood test that will measure the levels of TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) in the body. TSH is made in the pituitary gland, which is located in your brain. When your thyroid is not making enough hormones, the pituitary gland produces more TSH. Therefore, high levels can point to hypothyroidism. Unfortunately, a person can have normal TSH levels and still have an underactive thyroid. In this case your doctor should also do a free T4 test and possibly a free T3 test which will more accurately show how your thyroid is functioning.
How can Thyroid Replacement Therapy Help?
For Canadians who will or have been diagnosed with hypothyroidism, there are treatments available. Although there isn’t a cure just yet, there are methods available to control it.
Using thyroid replacement therapy is the most common form of treatment that will treat the symptoms of a hormone imbalance. The process of thyroid replacement therapy includes the use of synthetic thyroxine (T4) or animal thyroid supplements which works in the same way as your own thyroid hormone would. Your doctor or a qualified health professional then monitors the levels to make sure they are kept at a healthy spot.
Although in the beginning of the therapy you can still experience some side effects, these will disappear once your doctor finds the dosage to keep your hormones at the right level for you to feel your best. Most of these symptoms you are feeling are from the effects of the imbalance itself rather than the therapy, especially if you are suffering from hyperthyroidism.
If you are experiencing any of the symptoms mentioned above seek the advice of a medical professional as soon as possible. You will then be able to find out if an thyroid hormone imbalance is causing your issues and receive the right treatment needed to get your health back on track and start living your life to the fullest.
Interested in learning more about Thyroid Replacement Therapy and if it’s right for you? Reach out for a conversation with our team today.
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