Commonly referred to as an underactive thyroid, hypothyroidism is a medical condition caused when your body’s thyroid gland doesn’t produce enough hormones. The disorder, which affects men and women of all ages, may not cause symptoms in its earliest stages. However, left untreated, thyroid problems can lead to more serious issues, such as joint pain, heart disease, and infertility. For this reason, it is important to understand the early warning signs and when to seek a doctor’s opinion (possibly a thyroid panel).
Symptoms of Hypothyroidism in Adults
Despite affecting people of all ages and genders, hypothyroidism is most common in women who are middle-aged or older. Even if you’ve never been diagnosed with a thyroid problem in the past, certain symptoms could be cause for worry if you are of a certain age.
Most commonly, people who could be experiencing hypothyroidism will feel fatigued, even if they are getting enough sleep at night. They might feel more sensitive to cold or heat, have dry skin, gain weight, or feel more aches and tenderness in the muscles. Other common symptoms include irregular menstrual periods, thinning hair, memory loss, and depression.
Symptoms of Hypothyroidism in Infants, Children, and Teenagers
Although it is less common, infants, children, and teenagers can also develop hypothyroidism. It is especially problematic in infants, so knowing the signs to watch for is essential for any new parent.
An infant who was born with an improperly-working thyroid gland (or no gland at all) may not show signs at first. However, as they age, newborns may begin to develop jaundice, have difficulty breathing, or sound hoarse when they cry. They might also have a large tongue that protrudes or have an umbilical hernia. Infants who have untreated thyroid problems may have poor muscle tone, sleep more than other babies of the same age, or have trouble with physical and mental development.
Children and teenagers who develop thyroid problems often have the same common symptoms that adults do. However, a few key differences do stand out. A child or teenager who has hypothyroidism might be shorter than peers, have poor mental development, or have delayed symptoms of puberty. Some children also develop their permanent teeth at a slower rate.
Causes of Hypothyroidism
Hypothyroidism occurs in people for a variety of different reasons. The most common cause is Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, an autoimmune disorder that causes your body to attack its own tissue, including your thyroid gland. Radiation therapy for cancers of the head and neck, thyroid surgeries, and medications such as lithium can also cause hypothyroidism. Sometimes, a patient who previously had an overactive thyroid gland (hyperthyroidism) has too much treatment and ends up with the opposite problem. Although it is less common, a thyroid problem may also be due to congenital diseases, a pituitary disorder, an iodine deficiency, or becoming pregnant.
Treatment for Hypothyroidism
Before you can receive treatment for a thyroid disorder, you must first undergo diagnostic testing that includes a full thyroid panel. Thyroid testing requires a blood draw that is then sent off to a lab. At the laboratory, your blood’s TSH and thyroxine levels will be evaluated. If your TSH is too high and/or your thyroxine levels are too low, it indicates an underactive thyroid.
The most common treatment for hypothyroidism is a daily dose of levothyroxine. Levothyroxine, which is commonly known by the brand name Synthroid, is a synthetic thyroid hormone that helps to even your hormone levels and reverses the symptoms of hypothyroidism. Most of the time, a doctor will prescribe only 25 micrograms to start. From there, he or she will check your TSH levels every six to eight weeks and adjust your medication dosage as needed.
ARCpoint Labs of Sugar Land
Unfortunately, one problem with frequent blood tests is the high deductibles you may have on your insurance. Luckily, there is a solution. ARCpoint Labs of Sugar Land provides you with self-pay thyroid panels. Our mobile testing options are professional, safe, and can even be done in the comfort of your own home with a doctor’s order. Here are some of the neighborhoods we service: Rosenberg, Meadows, Galleria, West University, Richmond, Fulshear, Needville, Fresno, Bellaire, Meyerland, Maplewood, and Westbury. Contact us to learn more today.