Hypothyroidism or “underactive thyroid” is a condition that affects more women than men and tends to appear in middle age. The symptoms of under-active thyroid often come on slowly, seeming more a result of aging than a sign of disease. Fatigue and sluggishness, constipation and dry skin, pain or stiffness in the joints and muscles, and unexplained weight gain—are symptoms that people chalk up to inevitable signs of age—rather than a sign that the body’s regulator gland is off kilter.
When functioning properly, the thyroid gland produces hormones that maintain the rate at which your body processes fats and carbohydrates. These hormones help control your body temperature, heart rate and the production of protein. When left untreated, hypothyroidism affects the way your body uses energy and responds to other critical hormones —leading to new health problems such as high blood cholesterol, nerve damage and mental health problems such as forgetfulness and depression.
Instead of chalking it up to the inevitable effects of age and a “slowing metabolism” consider a simple blood test to measure the level of thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) sent to the thyroid from the pituitary gland. A high TSH level means your thyroid is underactive—and the pituitary is signaling it to produce more “regulating” hormones such as thyroxine (T4) and trilodothyronine (T3).
Is your thyroid acting up (or not enough?) Get the first test: