Your thyroid directs your metabolic action or the way your body breaks down food and transforms it into energy. One of it's tasks is absorbing amino acids, one of which, tyrosine, gets converted into dopamine, the supercharged, feel good neurotransmitter in the brain. Dopamine then produces norepinephrein and adrenaline, which are famous for their instant energy giving abilities when you are under stress.
The American Thyroid Association states that:
- More than 12% of the U.S. population will develop a thyroid condition during their lifetime.
- An estimated 20 million Americans have some form of thyroid disease.
- Up to 60% of those with thyroid disease are unaware of their condition.
- Women are five to eight times more likely than men to have thyroid problems.
- One woman in eight will develop a thyroid disorder during her lifetime.
Hypothyroidism stems from an underproduction of thyroid hormones and fewer thyroid hormones will mean a drop in your body's energy production and lower energy levels, leaving you feeling lethargic, fatigued, tired, and depressed. A 1993 study found that 56% of women with sub-clinical hypothyroidism were depressed. Another found that 15 - 20% of depressed men and women showed some degree of sub-clinical hypothyroidism.
(In case you were wondering, hyperthyroidism is due to an overproduction of thyroid hormones, which can lead to insomnia, daytime fatigue, nervousness, muscle weakness, unexplained weight loss, vision problems, and eye irritation.)
Symptoms of Hypothyroidism:
- Tired, Sluggish, Lethargic, Lack of motivation
- Trouble getting going in the morning
- Exhausted even after 8-10 hours of sleep
- Poor concentration and memory, Mental sluggishness
- Can't lose weight even with exercise
- Cold hands and feet
- Tingling or numbness in the hands
- Require excessive amounts of sleep to function properly
- Increase in weight gain even with low-calorie diet
- Gain weight easily
- Morning headaches that wear off as the day progresses
- Outer third of the eyebrow thins
- Thinning of the hair on scalp, face or genitals or excessive falling hair
- Dryness of skin and/or scalp
- Mental sluggishness
- Nervous and emotional
- Night sweats
- Coarse, dry hair
- Dry, rough pale skin
- Hair loss
- Muscle cramps and frequent muscle aches
- Constipation, Difficult, infrequent bowel movements
- Muscle and Joint Pains, Carpal Tunnel/Tendonitis Problems
- Neck Discomfort/Enlargement
- Reduced sex drive
- Menstrual Irregularities (excessive bleeding, severe cramping, irregular cycle, severe PMS)
- Fertility Problems
- Chubby or overweight since childhood
For women the most common triggers are the start of menstruation, menopause, or pregnancy. Dieting can also induce a thyroid problem. When you reduce your calories your body will automatically slow down your thyroid, which is a good move on your body's part, but over time, with frequent "yo-yo" dieting or skipped meals, your thyroid may forget to turn back on again.
Checking Your Thyroid At Home - If you suspect there is a problem with your thyroid try this home test before going to your doctor and getting blood work done. You will need to check your underarm, or basal, temperature first thing in the morning before you start moving around and raising your body temperature for 3 days. Your body temperature should hover around 98.6 degrees when taken orally but will be lower under the arm, between 98.4 and 97.8 degrees. If it's below 97.8 degrees for 3 days then you may have thyroid problems.
THYROID TEMPERATURE HOME-TEST
You will need to use a non-digital thermometer (digital is not as accurate under the arm).
- As soon as you wake up turn on bright lights, stay in bed, and keep your eyes open for 30 minutes (going to the bathroom is fine as is reading.)
- After 30 minutes place the thermometer under your armpit. Leave it there for 10 minutes. Stay quite in bed with your eyes open.
- Do this for at least 3 mornings to get your average temperature. You don't have to do the 3 mornings all in a row if you don't want to.
For Women: If you are a menstruating your basal temperature is most accurate days 1 through 4 of your period. Do not take your temperature around your ovulation or mid-cycle which causes your temperature to rise.
If you are male or a woman in menopause then any morning is fine. Hot flashes should not affect basal temperature.
If the temperature under your arm is less than 97.8 degrees for the 3 days that you check it then that's a good sign that you have a thyroid issue and you should seek out a thyroid specialist. After blood, urine, and saliva testing the doctor will recommend a course of action.