Let’s Talk About Thyroids

I’ll come right out and say it: I have a chronic disease. Sounds scary, right? Because most days it doesn’t feel like it and if you met me you’d never know. Lucky for me, it isn’t serious and it’s easy to fix (in my case). I have hypothyroidism. 

What is the thyroid?

Your thyroid (THY-roid) is a small gland found at the base of your neck. The thyroid produces two main hormones called T3 and T4. These hormones travel in your blood to all parts of your body. The thyroid hormones control the rate of many activities in your body. These include how fast you burn calories and how fast your heart beats. All of these activities together are known as your body’s metabolism. A thyroid that is working right will produce the right amounts of hormones needed to keep your body’s metabolism working at a rate that is not too fast or too slow. (source)

There are really two main types of thyroid issues: hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism. Hyperthyroidism means your body makes more thyroid hormones than it needs. Hypothyroidism means it doesn’t make enough.

I’m just going to talk about hypo because it’s what I experience firsthand. That’s usually when people say, “is that the fat one?” Yes, yes it is. Although that is a wild generalization. 

Symptoms vary and include:
  • Weight gain, even though you are not eating more food
  • Increased sensitivity to cold
  • Constipation
  • Muscle weakness
  • Joint or muscle pain
  • Depression
  • Fatigue (feeling very tired)
  • Pale, dry skin
  • A puffy face
  • A hoarse voice
  • Excessive menstrual bleeding

My story started in high school when they thought I had mono because I was tired all the time. I’d never been much of a nap taker but suddenly I took one every day after school and barely made it through dinner. I was so fatigued all the time. When we went in to the doctor, she suggested that I get my thyroid test done in addition to the mono testing. The doctor can test your thyroid levels with a simple blood test. Mine came back that I had hypothyroidism, meaning my body wasn’t making enough hormones. 

Now sometimes people with hypothyroidism do have weight issues however I was probably at my peak level of fitness. My main symptom was the fatigue. Additionally, I experience extreme dry skin. My skin on my legs itches all the time and no lotion has ever done the trick (I will take any suggestions on this one). The dryness effects my hair and nails too. 

Side story: One time I was curling my eyelashes and I looked down and all of my eyelashes had broken off and were now on the eyelash curler. I freaked. And then I didn’t have eyelashes for 3 month. Those suckers take so long to grow back! #thyroidproblems

After that, I went on medication called Levoxl (levothyroxin). It costs me $4 a month at Walmart and I take it every morning on an empty stomach. At first I thought it was going to kind of speed up my metabolism (thereby making me lose a couple pounds) but I didn’t notice a difference. I do notice that if I’m being irresponsible and I don’t take my meds (cause I forget to refill) for a few weeks that the fatigue returns. 
In 2000, a study found that up to 10 percent of Americans had an undiagnosed thyroid issue. Women are more susceptible than men and are likely to suffer from it after pregnancy.

So there you have it, hypothyroidism in a nutshell. 

Now tell me, do you have issues with your thyroid?
Or some other annoying health issue?

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