Feeling tired, worn-out and gaining weight? It could be time to check your thyroid
Underactive thyroid symptoms are easy to miss. They’re easily confused with other conditions, plus they go hand in hand with tiredness associated with just being plain busy.
But if you have symptoms like tiredness, lethargy, breathlessness, and you’re gaining weight or retaining more fluid than usual – it might be time to check in with your thyroid gland to see if it’s working as well as it should.Feeling tired, worn out and gaining weight? It could be time to check on your #thyroid. Click To Tweet
An underactive thyroid, or hypothyroidism, is when the thyroid gland – a small gland in the front of your neck – doesn’t release enough hormones into the bloodstream.
Thyroid hormones control your metabolism – so they determine how your body uses energy. If your thyroid gland doesn’t release enough hormones, your metabolism slows down which can lead to a range of symptoms.
What are the symptoms of hypothyroidism?
Having an underactive thyroid is often a progressive condition, so you might not notice the symptoms straight away or you might put them down to other stresses or things going on in your life.
However, symptoms of hypothyroidism can have a big effect on your quality of life. They can include:
- fatigue and low energy levels
- slow heart rate
- unexplained weight gain
- intolerance to cold temperatures
- fatigued and aching muscles
- dry, coarse skin
- puffy face
- hair loss
- problems with concentration goitre (enlarged thyroid gland)
Hypothyroidism: It’s more common than you think
Hypothyroidism is the most common disorder of the thyroid, affecting up to 10% of all women and up to 25% of women over 65. It does affect men too, although less frequently.
The most common cause of hypothyroidism in Australia is the autoimmune condition Hashimoto’s disease. In this condition, the immune system attacks the thyroid gland causing inflammation and damage – reducing the thyroid’s ability to make hormones.Hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid) is the most common thyroid disorder, affecting up to 10% of all women. Click To Tweet
How to check your thyroid health
If you’re experiencing symptoms, your doctor may recommend a blood test to check the amount of thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) in your blood.
This used to require a trip to the pathology centre and a blood test, which involved a nurse inserting a needle into the vein to take a blood sample. But now there’s an easier and more convenient way to check your thyroid health from home.
The MyHealthTest Thyroid (TSH) Test is a simple, fingerprick blood test – you only need a few spots of blood from your fingertip.
You order the test service online and receive a collection kit in the post. You collect your fingerprick blood sample on a special card, which you post straight back to our Canberra-based lab.
A few days later, we send the results directly to you (via a secure website) and you can share and discuss these results with your doctor.
What happens if you have an underactive thyroid?
If your TSH level is outside of the healthy range, this will be clearly marked on your test results and you will be advised to see your doctor. You can then discuss with your doctor any steps you may need to take to manage your thyroid health.
You may also be referred to a hormone specialist, known as an endocrinologist.
Many people with hypothyroidism are treated with hormone replacement tablets containing thyroxine.
Your doctor is also likely to recommend regular thyroid blood tests to monitor the effect of any medication.
A few final things to consider
Symptoms of hypothyroidism can get much worse if they go undiagnosed and untreated, so it’s important to act on any signs or symptoms early. A simple, easy at home check may deliver you peace of mind, or give you the information necessary to respond to a health need early.
Our fingerprick blood tests are a convenient way to monitor and keep informed about your health, but they’re not a substitute for professional medical advice.
If you’re concerned about your thyroid or would like more information about thyroid conditions, talk to your doctor so they can assess your personal circumstances.