The thyroid gland does not require extra attention or maintenance most of the time. But when it acts up, you will notice a change in your health marked by relevant symptoms. Although these may be vague enough to avoid your physician's diagnosis for a time, with the right blood test and a careful medical examination, you can soon find out if you have hypothyroidism.
One of the first reasons to suspect that your thyroid may be acting up is if you feel extra sluggish or worn out. Some people report they get so tired and listless, that it becomes increasingly difficult to get out of bed most days. They can barely drag across the floor to get to the bathroom, and a flight of stairs seems to ask the impossible. Of course, if you get to this point, you need to see a doctor pronto, as your thyroid may be in serious trouble. But be sure to ask your doctor to evaluate any type of unexplained fatigue.
Another symptom is dry skin and hair. You may find that your hair seems thin or brittle, and it could lose its sheen. Your skin may become rough and flaky, no matter how much you try to moisturize it. Like hair, skin can lose its natural vibrancy, tone, and color, especially around the joints like your elbows. Your mouth may feel drier than usual, as well.
Internal organs may not work properly and show signs of problems. For example, you could develop frequent or recurrent constipation. Your periods (if you are a female) could start coming irregularly and may not have the same type of monthly flow that you are used to. Your heart or breathing may not seem to work as efficiently as before. This observation fits with the fatigue mentioned above.
Since many of these symptoms are fairly generic, you will need to see your doctor to get an examination and accurate diagnosis. Your doctor may order blood tests to check the level of your thyroid's function. You might even be asked to take a radioactive pill or receive an injection that will let a technician check your thyroid's activity level the next day or so. Be sure to follow directions and keep pets or children away for a day or two afterward until the radioactive matter passes from your body.
If the doctor makes a diagnosis of hypothyroidism, you will probably be given a prescription medication to supplement the work your thyroid is supposed to do. Most of the time this condition is permanent, and it could be serious or even fatal if you don't take the medication. That is why it is important to check with your doctor about any problems you may be having so you can get a speedy and correct diagnosis and treatment. If you have the opposite kind of symptoms, such as a racing heart rate, oily skin, and diarrhea, you could have hyperthyroidism or another condition. Always let your doctor know if you experience a significant change in bodily behavior.