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Have You Got an Undiagnosed Thyroid Problem?

BY DIONNE LISTER

I was inspired to do this article when I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism and found out that other people I knew, including my sister, had this condition. Apparently one in five people in America have a thyroid problem and approximately 60,000 new cases are diagnosed in Australia each year. So what is it and how bad can it get?

The Thyroid is a butterfly shaped gland situated at the front of the neck. The thyroid produces hormones called T3 and T4 - they are needed to enable correct functioning of your metabolism. Without going into too much detail, at the risk of boring you, if the thyroid produces too much, or too little of these hormones you will be diagnosed with either hypothyroidism - a slow metabolism, or hyperthyroidism - a fast metabolism. Unfortunately it’s not just the speed at which you burn up calories that is a concern.

The symptoms I had, which led me to seek medical advice, were ridiculous fatigue, I just couldn’t get up in the morning, it was a real struggle, my resting heart rate had slowed to about 59 beats per minute and this was not because I was super fit, I had muscle aches and I suddenly started experiencing constant depression. After a couple of weeks of feeling miserable I realised it was not a passing phase - I just wasn't myself. You can also experience puffy face (because of water retention), muscle loss, weight gain, hair loss and trouble with concentration (among other things).

After a visit to the doctor and some blood tests it was found that my TSH levels were too high as my pituitary gland had to tell my thyroid to make more hormones. I was prescribed thyroxine, which mimics the hormone the thyroid gland produces - problem solved. I was surprised it was so easy and now I feel like my old self again.

If you have the opposite problem - hyperthyroidism, you may experience heart palpitations, chest pain, muscle weakness, weight loss or weight gain (because of an increase in appetite) and trouble sleeping. For a full list of potential symptoms click here.

They are not always sure what causes a person to have thyroid problems, however I have a suspicion it was my pill. Other causes can be the aftermath of a virus, eating too much or too little iodine (with some seaweed imports banned after it was found very high levels of iodine had caused thyroid problems in many people), having an autoimmune disorder  (Hashimotos), pituitary gland disorder or even a goiter.

We thought it was important to tell you about this because so many people are experiencing the symptoms and don't know what’s wrong when it could be a simple case of seeing your doctor, getting the blood test and diagnosis and settling back to a normal life. So hopefully none of you actually have these symptoms but if you do go to your doctor and get it checked out.

 

More info:

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