This Article is About
underactive thyroid gland
symptoms of hypothyroidism
unexplained weight gain
loss of libido
hectic lifestyles
aching muscles
chronic fatigue
hypothyroidism
Chronic Exhaustion? You May Have An Underactive Thyroid Gland
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Millions of people around the world suffer from hypothyroidism (better known as an underactive thyroid gland). Many people are totally unaware of their condition as the main symptom can be a general feeling of mental and physical tiredness that they attribute to their stressful or hectic lifestyles.

How do I tell if I am suffering from hypothyroidism?

The main symptoms of hypothyroidism are:

  • chronic fatigue
  • mental exhaustion or “foggy” thinking
  • constipation
  • unexplained weight gain
  • unrefreshing sleep
  • aching muscles/bones
  • loss of libido
  • dry skin and/or hair
  • anxiety or irritability
  • depression
  • headaches

This list is not exhaustive and you may only suffer from a selection of the above, but if you can identify with these symptoms it is best to consult your doctor. The only way to find out for sure if your thyroid is underactive is to visit your doctor and ask for a blood test, which will test for the level of thyroxine (thyroid hormone) and TSH (another hormone made in your pituitary gland which stimulates your thyroid gland to produce thyroxine) in your bloodstream.

What do I do if I am diagnosed with hypothyroidism?

If your blood tests come back positive you will need to take medication for hypothyroidism to replace the thyroxine your body is no longer making. It may take several weeks or months before you begin to feel any better, as your dosage of thyroxine will need to be “optimized”. This simply means that you will be started on a low dosage to begin with, and your blood tested again after a few weeks. Your doctor may then increase your dosage if your levels are still not within the “normal” range. It is a case of trial and error and it is important not to start off on too high a dosage, as too much thyroxine can make you hyperthyroid – bringing a whole range of different symptoms and side effects, so it is important to be patient during the first few months.

During this period, try to support your body back to health by making sure you get enough sleep, eat healthily and exercise gently. Having an underactive thyroid means that your metabolism (your body’s physical and mental functions) slows down and you are burning calories from food at a lower rate, this is why most people with hypothyroidism suffer from weight gain. Being aware of what you are eating, and if necessary, making changes to your lifestyle will help you deal with your illness more effectively. Exercise is also important to boost your metabolism, but if you are feeling exhausted, over-exercising is not good for you. Listen to what your body is telling you, and if you feel too tired to go to the gym, try a gentle walk instead.

How long will I need to be on medication?

The majority of people who are diagnosed with hypothyroidism will need to take medication and live with the disease for the rest of their lives, but this does not mean that you cannot return to the healthy, energetic person you used to be. Being kind to yourself by getting your medication at the right level, eating healthily and exercising sensibly will set you on the right road to recovery.


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