Thyroid problems are fairly common nowadays , and it is still on the rise. With women being at a 5-7 times higher risk than men, this is quite a concern today. What makes matters worse is that more than 60% of those suffering from thyroid problems are oblivious of their underlying condition.
So let us look into how to identify the early signs and symptoms of hypothyroidism. It is essentially a condition where the thyroid gland produces less of T3 and T4. Thyroid hormones control body metabolism. Hence, lower levels slow down metabolism proportional to the hormone levels.
But when do we suspect hypothyroidism?
Sudden weight gains, or failure to lose weight, mood swings, anxiety, depression, poor concentration, memory difficulties, fatigue, constipation, infertility, poor sex drive, heat intolerance, excessive sweating, dry skin, hair fall, hoarse voice, etc. are some of the earliest signs.
While many believe neck swelling is a clear indication of thyroid problems, that is just a myth. Hypothyroidism may exist for very long without any noticeable swelling. A bunch of vague indications is what makes early detection difficult.
Why is it undiagnosed?
Of all the above mentioned symptoms, it is very unlikely that one would experience more than 3-4 of them initially, at which point we just choose to ignore the problems. What we do not realize is that, hypothyroidism has a very insidious onset.
Secondly, the routine tests estimate values of thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH), T3 and T4. While TSH is a good indicator, it cannot be relied on 100% of the times. Sub-clinical hypothyroidism will be missed based on these tests.
So how to identify the problem?
Once you have something to raise your suspicion, it is best to see your doctor. Also, it is a good practice to annually get it checked. TSH, free T3, free T4, thyroid peroxidase antibodies (TPOAb) and Thyroglobulin antibodies (TgAb) estimations are reliable to judge your thyroid gland functioning.
How to improve thyroid function?
Whether you are okay, borderline or diagnosed with hypothyroidism, there are always ways to improve it. Getting a good 8-10 hours sleep and regular exercises like calisthenics and yoga helps improve thyroid function. Limiting intake of fluoride and chlorine, and avoiding raw goitrogens like cabbage, cauliflower, etc. lowers risk.
So, its always a good practice to have yourself checked even for the most trivial symptoms. After all, a stitch in time saves nine.