You, or your physician, may have chalked up your fatigue, mental sluggishness or anxiety to stress, inadequate sleep or a less-than-ideal diet. But have you been checked for a thyroid disorder?
An estimated 20 million Americans have some form of thyroid disorder, with as many as 60 percent of them undiagnosed. Women are as much as 10 times more likely than men to develop some form of thyroid disease, for reasons that are not well understood.
Underactive Thyroid (Hypothyroidism)
When too little thyroid hormone is produced, the body’s functions slow down. Symptoms of hypothyroidism may include weight gain, constipation, fatigue, increased sensitivity to cold temperatures, depression, and problems with thinking, concentration or memory.
Restoring thyroid hormone balance typically involves taking a daily dose of prescription medication to replace the hormone that is not being produced by the body. Lab tests help doctors dial in the proper dosage for each individual patient.
Overactive Thyroid (Hyperthyroidism)
If thyroid production exceeds normal levels, body processes speed up. Symptoms of hyperthyroidism include weight loss despite no change in eating habits, more frequent bowel movements, muscle weakness, nervousness or anxiety, and increased sensitivity to heat.
Restoring thyroid hormone balance may involve surgery, destruction of thyroid tissue (ablation) or antithyroid medication. Patients who opt for surgery or ablation will need to replace thyroid hormones with daily medication.
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