Do you or someone you know feel constantly tired or unable to bear cold environments? These are among a few symptoms of hypothyroidism that a lot of people don’t pay attention to. Read on to educate yourself about some of the warning signs of hypothyroidism.
These are two of the most common (and ignored) signs of hypothyroidism. Our brain cells convert the thyroid hormone Thyroxine (T4) into the active thyroid hormone Triiodothyronine (T3). When this conversion does not take place frequently enough, the mind lacks clarity, and the head feels sluggish and heavy. What makes thyroid-related fatigue different from regular fatigue is experiencing a tired and heavy head, generally during the afternoon.
A person suffering from hypothyroidism has lower levels of thyroid hormones T3 and T4. These hormones control the metabolism of cells. When T3 is low, cells are unable to signal a person’s DNA to raise the pace of metabolism. As a result, hair regrowth doesn’t take place effectively. Hair follicles go through a natural cycle of growth, but when the body goes through such hormonal changes, the cycle is disturbed. And the consequences of such a disturbed cycle are hair fall, and coarse and dry hair. Hair loss at the outer ends of the eyebrows is a lesser-known sign of hypothyroidism.
Thyroid hormones regulate calorie consumption (how the body uses and stores energy). People living with hypothyroidism have a low basal metabolic rate, and so, the fat-burning process becomes slower. Thus, they tend to gain weight even if they have low-calorie foods. With low thyroid hormone levels, metabolism occurs at a slower-than-normal rate and the body stores calories as fat, making it even more difficult to lose weight.
Skin troubles are a common sign of hypothyroidism. Hypothyroidism can reduce sweat, because of which the skin loses its lubrication and becomes dry, pale, & rough. Wrinkles and fine lines start to show up as well. The reason the skin changes its texture is because blood circulation is reduced when the thyroid functions improperly. In some extreme cases, the skin receives only one fifth of the required amount of blood.
Feeling unusually cold is another sign of hypothyroidism. The thyroid gland regulates the amount of heat produced in the body by controlling the calorie-burning process. Since the metabolic rate is low in patients of hypothyroidism, the amount of heat generated is low too. Being exposed to an extremely cold environment causes stress to the body. As a response to the cold, a normal person’s thyroid into overdrive mode to deal with it. However, the body of a patient of hypothyroidism may not be able to produce more hormones and generate enough heat.
A lowered libido could mean that the thyroid function is not up to the mark. This is because the body is inflamed when a person has hypothyroidism. This causes an excessive release of the stress hormone cortisol by adrenal glands (hormone-producing glands). Inversely, the sex hormones estrogen, testosterone and progesterone aren’t produced adequately if it weren’t for the increased cortisol production. This is because the adrenal glands use a master hormone called pregnenolone to produce the stress hormone and the sex hormones. This results in a lack of interest in sex.
Galactorrhea or lactation without breastfeeding occurs due to the hormone prolactin being secreted from a pituitary adenoma (a benign tumor arising from the pituitary gland). The pituitary gland also produces TSH, or thyroid-stimulating hormone, which signals the thyroid on the amount of T4 and T3 it needs to produce.
Higher TSH levels mean that thyroid-hormone levels are low and the thyroid needs to be stimulated for hormone production. A study has suggested that along with prolactin levels, TSH levels are high in a person experiencing galactorrhea. A positive correlation between galactorrhea and primary hypothyroidism was observed. Primary hypothyroidism is caused due to a malfunction of the thyroid, unlike secondary hypothyroid which is caused due to a malfunctioning of pituitary / hypothalamus. It was concluded that galactorrhea recedes if there is an increase in T3 levels.
Having trouble passing stools? Chronic constipation is a sign that should make you want to get a thyroid-function test done as quickly as possible. Hormonal changes can wreak havoc on your digestive tract as well.
Also, when a person is suffering from hypothyroidism, their body doesn’t absorb nutrients, such as magnesium, properly, resulting in their deficiency. The muscles involved in digestion require magnesium to function properly.
A deficiency of thyroid hormone slows down a lot of processes in the body. As mentioned earlier, when the thyroid gland is unable to produce enough T3 and T4, the mind loses clarity and focus, and the head starts to feel unenergetic and heavy. Brain fog is a common sign of an underactive thyroid. Hypothyroidism is also associated with one’s ability to concentrate, and retain and recall information. A study shows that the ability to retrieve information from memory could be negatively affected by hypothyroidism.
The body of a person affected by hypothyroidism is inflamed. Also, as mentioned, instead of sex hormones, the stress hormone cortisol is produced in higher quantities by the adrenal gland? The thyroid does not have the ability to produce adequate hormones when it malfunctions. These hormone fluctuations result in irregular menstrual cycles.
Disturbances of menstruation in hypothyroidism
Primary hypothyroidism and galactorrhea
Evaluation and Treatment of Galactorrhea