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Fatigued or Full Throttle: Is Your Thyroid to Blame?

Understanding Thyroid Problems -- Symptoms and Treatments
(continued)

How Is Hypothyroidism or Hyperthyroidism Diagnosed?

Your doctor will ask you about your symptoms and do a physical exam. Then he or she will order blood tests to see how much thyroid hormone your body is making. In addition, your doctor may discover that you have hyperthyroidism while doing a test for another reason.

Signs and Symptoms of a Thyroid Problem:

  • You may feel nervous, moody, weak, or tired.
  • Your hands may shake, your heart may beat fast, or you may have problems breathing.
  • You may be sweaty or have warm, red, itchy skin.
  • You may have more bowel movements than usual.
  • You may have fine, soft hair that is falling out.
  • You may feel tired, weak, and/or depressed.
  • You may have dry skin and brittle nails.
  • You may have difficulty standing cold temperatures.
  • You may have constipation.
  • You may experience memory problems or trouble thinking clearly.
  • You may have heavy or irregular menstrual periods.
  • You may lose weight even though you eat the same or more than usual.

Symptoms of hypothyroidism occur slowly over time. At first you might not notice these symptoms. Or you might mistake them for normal aging. This is not normal aging. See your doctor if you have symptoms like these that get worse or won't go away.

Pregnancy, which requires an increased production of thyroid hormone, can cause hypothyroidism. About 2% of pregnant women in the United States get hypothyroidism.

How Is Hyperthyroidism Treated?

Hyperthyroidism is easily treated. With treatment, you can lead a healthy life. Without treatment, hyperthyroidism can lead to serious heart problems, bone problems, and a dangerous condition called thyroid storm.

If your symptoms bother you, your doctor may give you pills called beta-blockers. These can help you feel better while you and your doctor decide what your treatment should be. Even if your symptoms do not bother you, you still need treatment because hyperthyroidism can lead to more serious problems.

Radioactive iodine and anti-thyroid medicine are the treatments doctors use most often. The best treatment for you will depend on a number of things, including your age. Some people need more than one kind of treatment.

After treatment, you will need regular blood tests. These tests check to see if your hyperthyroidism has come back. They also check to see if you are making enough thyroid hormone. Sometimes treatment cures hyperthyroidism but causes the opposite problem-too little thyroid hormone. If this happens, you may need to take thyroid hormone pills for the rest of your life.

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