Discovering a thyroid disorder can be alarming at first. Learning what the symptoms, diagnosis and treatment might be like can ease some of the stress. Thyroid disease is fairly common in women. My diagnosis, symptoms and treatment are just one example, but hopefully my story can help others who may be experiencing the same questions and concerns.
There are several reasons why a person may have a thyroid disorder including autoimmune disorder, iodine insufficiency and congenital causes. In my unique case, I was living in a developing nation and may have been lacking enough iodine in my diet. In many countries, table salt is enriched with iodine to reduce this risk. Your doctor will be able to perform assessments which will help determine the possible causes in your case.
What initially brought me to the doctors office was that I had been gaining unexplained weight. My neighborhood urgent care clinic conducted a simple urinalysis which determined that I was not pregnant. This begged the question of the weight gain. Bloodwork to test my thyroid levels (TSH, T3 and T4) showed that I have hypothyroidism (or underactive thyroid gland). For me, this meant that my TSH was high and my T4 was in normal range.
I was referred to my Primary Care Provider (PCP) for follow-up and prescribed a month supply of Synthroid (levothyroxine) 25mg. The doctor let me know the medicine would re-establish thyroid hormone balance. The dose was once per day, every day. In many cases, medication is able to address the imbalance and reduce symptoms. Your PCP may want to check your thyroid for goiter. This test is often non-invasive and can be done with an ultrasound machine.
In my case, my symptoms appeared in reaction to the medication. I began having typical hypothyroid symptoms that I did not have before. Symptoms included fatigue, depression, palpitations, sensation of cold and joint pain. My PCP referred me to an endocrinologist who specializes in hormones in the body. After some testing it was decided that my TSH is abnormally high, but stays consistent and does not require treatment at this time. I get tested every six months to see of my levels are stable. At some point, my PCP may recommend that I go back on Synthroid. Thyroid conditions become more common as we age.
If you think you may be experiencing hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid) or hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid), it is important to seek medical help.