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5 Common Warning Signs of Hypothyroidism

Hypothyroidism describes an underproducing, sluggish thyroid. Ideally, this butterfly-shaped gland in your neck cranks out two hormones — T3 and T4. If it overproduces, you have hyperthyroidism and may experience a racing heart, unexplained weight loss, weakness, and irritability. 

Both hyper- and hypothyroidism are examples of a hormone imbalance, one of Dr. Naima Cheema’s areas of expertise. As a triple-board certified physician at Nexclin Medicine in Roswell, Georgia, Dr. Cheema has the training and experience to diagnose and treat hormone imbalances and their underlying causes. 

Here, she explains the warning signs of hypothyroidism and how she treats it.

How to spot hypothyroidism

Several conditions can lead to an underactive thyroid, including inflammation (thyroiditis), iodine deficiency, and autoimmune diseases like Hashimoto’s. Hypothyroid symptoms usually develop gradually, so they’re easy to overlook or attribute to something else. The signs of hypothyroid are numerous but generally fall into the following five categories:

1. Mental

Hypothyroidism affects your cognitive acuity. Many people say they feel unfocused and have trouble concentrating. A common description of the mental hypothyroidism effect is “brain fog.” It may also affect your memory, causing forgetfulness.

People with hypothyroidism often have depressed moods, but researchers have yet to establish a direct link between hypothyroidism and clinical depression. 

2. Sexual

Since your thyroid hormones play a role in your reproductive health, hypothyroidism can affect your sex life in two ways. It can lower your libido, decreasing your desire for sex, and it can lead to erectile dysfunction in men when the underlying cause stems from a pituitary gland issue. 

3. Weight

Because your thyroid hormones regulate your metabolism, hypothyroidism can slow the process and lead to weight gain. While your base metabolic rate decreases, that may not be the primary cause of weight gain with hypothyroidism. Instead, researchers believe that weight gain associated with an underactive thyroid is due to an excess accumulation of water and salt. The typical weight gain with hypothyroidism is about 5-10 pounds — more if the condition is severe.

4. Physical

Hypothyroidism has multiple physical effects, and you may experience them in any combination and degree of intensity. They include:

These are all signs that your thyroid isn’t producing enough hormones to keep your body’s systems running smoothly.

5. Sensory

In addition to the myriad physical effects, hypothyroidism can alter your sense of touch. It’s common to experience tingling in your hands and fingers, a pins-and-needles sensation, or even numbness.

Some people with hypothyroidism report a heightened sensitivity to hot and cold temperatures, to the point where they can’t tolerate extremes.

Diagnosing and treating hypothyroidism

Dr. Cheema can determine whether you have hypothyroidism with a simple blood test called a thyroid-stimulating hormone test. She also examines your thyroid to check for lumps and enlargement. 

In most cases of hypothyroidism, Dr. Cheema can correct the problem and restore your hormonal balance with bioidentical hormone replacement therapy. However, she also treats the underlying cause of your hypothyroidism when possible. 

Don’t ignore signs of hypothyroidism; if it goes untreated, it can lead to life-threatening complications, such as difficulty breathing and heart problems. 

To find out if your symptoms point to hypothyroidism, contact us at Nexclin Medicine online or by phone and schedule an appointment with our hypothyroidism experts. 

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