It’s small, shaped like a butterfly, and sits just below the base of the front of your neck — it’s your thyroid gland. And though it’s compact in size, it plays a large role in your overall health.
Your thyroid is in charge of producing and releasing chemical messengers called hormones that control a wide variety of your body’s major functions, from fueling your metabolism and regulating your body temperature to controlling your brain development.
Unfortunately, due to a variety of health conditions, you can develop a condition known as hypothyroidism, which occurs when your thyroid gland underperforms and fails to send out the correct amount of hormones into your body. Nearly 5 out of every 100 people lives with hypothyroidism and the many frustrating physical and emotional health problems that stem from it.
The good news is that there are many ways you can catch hypothyroidism in its earliest stages and find relief from your symptoms.
Dr. Michael Skardasis at Optimal Performance Medicine specializes in diagnosing and treating hypothyroidism. Below, he shares the five most common signs of an underactive thyroid so you can get the help and treatment you need quickly.
Your main source of energy comes from your metabolism — the process by which your body turns the food you eat (mainly carbohydrates, fats, and proteins) into usable energy. If your thyroid doesn’t release enough metabolism-fueling hormones, your body can’t produce energy efficiently, leaving you feeling run down.
#2: Unexplained problems with weight
When your metabolism slows as the result of a malfunctioning thyroid, your body can’t process your food efficiently. This can lead to sudden weight gain or make it difficult to lose weight. The lack of energy you feel from a slow metabolism can indirectly cause you to gain or struggle to lose weight because, without energy, you’re not likely to get regular exercise.
Digestion is just one of the many things under your thyroid’s jurisdiction. If your body doesn’t have enough hormones to keep it going because your thyroid gland is sluggish, you can develop problems with movement through your gut and other stomach and intestine issues.
We typically classify constipation as having fewer than three bowel movements a week. Talk to us if you're struggling with these kinds of digestive setbacks.
#4: Skin, hair, and nail changes
An underactive thyroid also leads to physical changes because thyroid hormones are essential to the growth and development of hair follicles and healthy skin. Many people who live with hypothyroidism eventually develop symptoms such as:
- Thin, dry, and rough skin
- Brittle nails
You may notice that the hair on your head and other parts of your body falls out or becomes thin and dry, as well.
#5: Mood and memory problems
Your brain relies on hormones from your thyroid to regulate your mood, memory, and even your speech. Low levels of thyroid hormones can cause changes to your brain structure and ability to function and lead to issues like:
- Lack of interest
- Impaired memory function
- Lack of attentiveness or concentration
- Mood swings
- Slow thinking and speech
Fortunately, your mood and brain functioning restabilize after you treat your hypothyroidism.
Though the symptoms are frustrating, there is hope through treatment. Dr. Skardasis takes the time to completely review your health history and discuss your concerns with you before creating a customized treatment plan.
Most often, we recommend hormone therapy to address your underactive thyroid and help your body replace the hormones it lacks. We also educate you on some lifestyle changes that support your overall health and wellness and help you manage your symptoms.
For example, we may recommend that you increase your activity levels to boost your energy, eat a healthier diet, and find ways to reduce your stress and get better sleep. All of these simple changes support your other hypothyroidism treatments, allowing you to feel more energized, focused, and like yourself again.
If you’d like more information, or suspect that you have hypothyroidism, request an appointment at our Woodstock, Georgia, office online or over the phone today.