In February, 2008 I wrote an article on possible side effects of Synthroid. At that time I mentioned a few of the warning signs I experienced that let my doctor know he should check my thyroid levels. My last blood test (TSH) was abnormal (6.8) and my doctor wants to repeat the test in 2 months to see if I need my dosage of synthroid adjusted. Normal TSH levels should be 0-4. Because of my experiences with hypothyroid, I want to share the information I have learned with others so they they don’t go untreated.
Hypothyroidism is a condition that is caused when the thyroid gland (which is located in the front of the neck below the voice box) becomes defective and reduces it’s production of thyroid hormone. Thyroid hormone is what regulates a person’s metabolism.
There are 2 types of hypothyroidism: Primary and Secondary. Primary hypothyroidism is referred to as Hashimoto’s disease and is usually brought on by radiation exposure to the neck, radioactive iodine used for treatment of hyperthyroidism, certain drugs (such as lithium), special X-ray dyes or surgical removal of the thyroid gland. Secondary hypothyroidism can affect anyone, but usually occurs in females over age 50. Obesity is a possible risk factor. Hypothyroidism is very common and millions are being treated for it.
Because the thyroid controls metabolism, a person with hypothyroidism will be affected because their body’s normal rate of functioning slows down. This can cause both mental and physical sluggishness. If left untreated hypothyroidism can lead to coma and death.
Some of the early symptoms include: cold intolerance, constipation, depression, muscle or joint pain, brittle fingernails, brittle hair, paleness, fatigue, weakness and weight gain. Some of the later symptoms can include: decreased sense of taste and smell, dry skin, hoarseness, slow speech, thinning of eyebrows, menstrual disorders and puffy face, hands and feet. My own symptoms were: cold intolerance, brittle fingernails and hair, fatigue, hoarseness, menstrual disorders and the worst -weight gain. I attributed my symptoms to menopause because this all came on at around age 47.
Most people know their own bodies and know when something isn’t right. The best thing to do, if you notice any of the symptoms above, is make an appointment with your doctor. When I told my doctor all the things I was feeling, he immediately ordered a TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) blood test. Once you are diagnosed with hypothyroidism you will have it for life, but it’s easily controlled with medication. Your doctor will prescribe Synthroid (or the generic levothyroxine). Once every six months or year you will need to get a blood test to make sure the dose is still right. I have gone from 50mcg to 125mcg over the years and it looks like it may have to be increased again.
Once you get your thyroid back on track with medication you’ll be yourself again. Don’t wait.