Hypothyroidism, also known as an underactive thyroid, is a relatively common issue that can have a large impact on both our physical and emotional wellbeing.
Although treatable, it can sometimes be difficult to diagnose due to the fact that many of its symptoms could also be indicators of several other disorders. So, how do medical professionals detect and treat hypothyroidism in their patients?
What is hypothyroidism?
Hypothyroidism is a condition where the thyroid gland cannot create adequate amounts of the thyroid hormone. According to the National Institutes of Health, nearly 5% of the US population has hypothyroidism with the condition being typically more common in women and those over 60 years old.
Those suffering from hypothyroidism could go to their doctors with a wide range of different symptoms, which is one of the reasons that it can be hard to diagnose individually. Typically, the symptoms of hypothyroidism are:
- Hair loss.
- Weight gain.
- Dry hair.
- General weakness.
- Memory loss.
- Muscle cramps or aching muscles.
To properly diagnose hypothyroidism, a doctor will often take a blood test from the patient, as well as conduct a physical examination and verify their personal and family medical histories.
During the blood test, several hormones are checked including the thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) and thyroxine (T4) to help diagnose the condition properly. Different tests are carried out to detect hypothyroidism and you may have several before a definitive diagnosis takes place. Usually, if your TSH measures less than 4.0 mU/L, you will have a second test to verify the outcome and often a TSH level lower than 4.0 mU/L along with a low T4 amount is a strong sign of hypothyroidism.
A doctor will also check for how long the patient has been experiencing their symptoms to aid them in diagnosing hypothyroidism. So, if the patient has suddenly felt a drop in energy levels or a sensation of irritability and low mood just recently, this may indicate to them that the person has or is developing the condition (as opposed to someone who has experienced such symptoms for a very long time due to other issues).
Then, a doctor will carry out a physical examination to check for indicators of hypothyroidism. This could include looking out for dry skin, checking how quickly the patient’s reflexes are, examining the heart rate, and feeling for any swelling on the legs or around the eyes.
Also, a doctor will discuss the patient’s medical history. In order to help them make the correct diagnosis, it’s important that the patient gives as much detail as they can when speaking with them about symptoms and medical history. They should tell them about any changes to general health, let them know if a relative has ever suffered from an underactive thyroid and discuss any medication they may be taking. This will make it a lot easier to detect and remedy the condition.
If your doctor diagnoses you with hypothyroidism, there’s no need to panic. The condition is treatable and can be helped by simple changes to diet and lifestyle. What’s more, there is an effective range of medication you can take to help alleviate the symptoms and condition, such as Cytomel Tabs (Liothyronine or T3).
Overall, hypothyroidism can be managed, but make sure to always consult with a medical professional to properly diagnose and treat the condition.