An underactive thyroid can affect both men and women although it’s more common in women. Children can also develop an underactive thyroid (I was diagnosed at the age of 10.)
This section has been created so that other people with this condition don’t feel alone. But it’s not just for the sufferers, it’s for people who are being tested for it and know nothing about it. It’s for the family and friends whose loved one is affected and want to learn more about the condition.
Being diagnosed at such an early age meant that I didn’t really understand what was going on or what it even meant. So this is a place where no one else has to feel that way. Come here for advice, come here to learn more about the condition or simply come for a chat.
What is an Underactive Thyroid?
An underactive thyroid gland also known as hypothyroidism, is where your thyroid gland doesn’t produce enough hormones. This is commonly caused by the immune system attacking the thyroid gland and damaging it. When I first realised that is what it is I thought “so basically own body just betrays me…” But the fact is there is no way of preventing an underactive thyroid, it’s not hereditary and you definitely can’t catch it.
What is The Thyroid Gland?
The thyroid gland is a small butterfly-shaped gland in the neck, just in front of the windpipe. One of its main functions is to produce hormones that help regulate the body’s metabolism. These hormones are called triiodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine (T4). Many of the body’s functions slow down when the thyroid doesn’t produce enough of these hormones. A healthy thyroid controls the energy balance in your body.
What Are The Common Signs of an Underactive Thyroid?
The symptoms are vague and to be honest there is no one symptom that screams YOU HAVE UNDERACTIVE THYROID at you.
Some of the symptoms include:
- Weight gain
- Feeling depressed
- Being sensitive to the cold
- Dry skin and hair
- Muscle ache
How Do I Find Out if I Have it?
The only accurate way of finding out whether you have a thyroid problem is to have a thyroid function test. This is a blood test where the sample of blood is tested to measure your hormone levels.
What is The Treatment?
An underactive thyroid can often be successfully treated by taking daily hormone tablets to replace the hormones your thyroid isn’t making. Levothyroxine is what the doctors prescribe here in the UK and the level you take is determined by your TSH levels. Sometimes the levels can go up and down too throughout the years depending on how the treatment is working for you.
You will need regular blood tests every six months or so to monitor your thyroid function and generally as long as you take the tablet daily you will feel ‘normal.’ However everyone reacts differently to treatment and the effects of having an underactive thyroid vary from each individual. This will all be discussed in later posts, I just wanted to start this section off with something that will hopefully give people a basic understanding and also give me a starting point!
It’s important we raise awareness about underactive thyroid and talk more openly about it. It’s a life-long illness and for sufferers it can be a very lonely place where you feel like no one understands you. If you have any questions or queries about it please comment below or email at firstname.lastname@example.org