Hypothyroidism – Symptoms, Diagnosis and Treatment

Hypothyroidism is a prevalent problem with thyroid-related illness and can cause you to have concentration problems, low energy, it can affect mood and cause you to gain weight. If you have persistent fatigue syndrome or fibromyalgia, I would recommend that this is one of the first things you should have checked. But there are some particularly telling (but little known) signs of hypothyroidism that some medical practitioners and even fewer patients, are aware of but can help lead to the accurate diagnosis.

Hypothyroidism is very often linked with hair loss. You may observe a heavier-than-normal loss of hair from the scalp. Even body hair (including pubic hair and underarm) may shed or thin. This hair loss can be due to a thyroid problem, but it can also show up with other hormonal imbalances, age, illnesses, hereditary and genetics.
If you have any unexplained hair loss, particularly if you have hair loss from your eyebrows’ outer edge, it’s time for an absolute thyroid evaluation from a competent practitioner. Yup, one kind of hair loss is deemed unique to hypothyroidism. It is the loss of the thin hair in the outer edges of the eyebrows. This is a typical sign of hypothyroidism and is not currently linked to other diseases.

Many people have extolled cholesterol levels and doctors are becoming more proactive about recommending treatment. Often for borderline-high levels, doctors suggest a trial of diet and exercise to get the numbers down and back into stability. If that doesn’t work or the numbers are incredibly high, doctors may prescribe cholesterol-lowering drugs, most commonly, the statin drugs, like Lipitor.

Untreated, undiagnosed hypothyroidism can make high cholesterol immune to treatment. Despite exercise, diet and prescription meds, cholesterol levels may stay high, confounding patients and doctors alike.

Generally, if you have high cholesterol, you should always have a thorough, complete thyroid evaluation to rule out hypothyroidism before taking cholesterol-lowering thyroid medications completely. And if you are on cholesterol-lowering drugs that aren’t working, definitely talk to your doctor about your thyroid.

It’s one of those issues we often don’t want to discuss, but chronic or persistent constipation can be a sign of a severe under-active thyroid. Since the thyroid controls metabolism, hypothyroidism’s metabolic slowdown also slows down the digestive system, and food moves more gradually through digestion and expulsion, frequently resulting in constipation. Natural remedies (such as fruits like dried prunes or prune juice, increasing water intake, increasing the fiber intake) are often tried, with no effects. Over-the-counter prescription drugs and herbal meds may also fail to solve the problem. If you are undergoing chronic constipation, you should always be exhaustively assessed for an under-active thyroid.

Many women consider the loss of sex drive as an inevitable part of getting older, but it doesn’t have to be that way. No (or low) sex drive may be a sign of untreated, undiagnosed hypothyroidism in some ladies. If you have a problem with your libido, any medical workup your doctor does to assess you should include a complete thyroid testing to rule out low thyroid as a potential cause. There are even doubts about infertility related to hypothyroidism.

Around 10% of the UK’s English population has a mood disorder, including dysthymic disorder (milder, longer-term depression), major depression and bipolar disorder. Mood Swings and depression can be a symptom of untreated low thyroid. Sadly, some of the millions of people diagnosed and treated for depression and mood disorders are really suffering from undiagnosed hypothyroidism.

There is no urine or blood test for depression, so determination is made based on discussing the symptoms. But thyroid disease diagnosis requires testing and evaluation, so with today’s 5-minute doctor visits and supervised care cost containment, mood-related symptoms are quickly connected to depression and a prescription is written for anti-anxiety or antidepressants rather than prescribing a more time-intensive thyroid test.

While some thyroid patients can have a separate mood disorder that also warrants treatment, everyone must diagnose depression or other mood disorders and be thoroughly evaluated as early as possible to rule out any underlying thyroid irregularities.

When you request a test, be prepared to tell the doctor you want to test your TSH, T3, and T4 at the minimum. Most doctors only test for TSH, which is a weak baseline to use for testing.