The thyroid gland has a crucial part to play in the body, the hormones it produces help in maintaining a regular heart rate, healthy skin and healthy metabolic rate. When the thyroid gland becomes sluggish (hypothyroidism) you will start experiencing low levels of energy, weight gain, aching joints, dry skin and even depression. If your thyroid is over-working (hyperthyroidism) you will experience sleep disturbance, racing heart and weight loss.
Knowing what can go wrong if your thyroid is not functioning properly, you will be surprised to know that almost half of the estimated 27 million Americans dealing with thyroid problems go undiagnosed. You spend your time visiting different internists to specialists and all they do is prescribing skin creams and antidepressants when all you really need is regulating your thyroid function.
Most people diagnosed with thyroid problems suffer from the sluggish type, if you suspect dealing with hypothyroidism your doctor may ask you if you have a relative that deals with the same problem because thyroid problems tend to run in families. People who are older are at a higher risk of experiencing thyroid problems and in general women are eight times more at risk of developing thyroid problems than men.
If you are dealing with an autoimmune disorder like rheumatoid arthritis or type1 diabetes your odds can be increased.
Depending on your symptoms and risk profile, you may be recommended by your doctor to take a thyroid stimulating hormone blood test (TSH). The TSH is produced by the pituitary gland, when your thyroid is not working enough the pituitary gland produces more of this hormone, and if your thyroid is over-working the results will show low levels of this hormone. Regular people with a healthy thyroid should have 0.4 to 2.5 in the test results, scoring 0.0 to 0.4 would indicate you are dealing with a hyperthyroidism and 2.5 to 4 means you are experiencing hypothyroidism.
The tests should be redone within a year. If your results score above 4 then you may be experiencing a mild case of hypothyroidism, clinical hypothyroidism scores 10 in the tests thus doctors used to avoid treating such mild cases. However a 2007 British study in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism suggested that treating such patients can reduce the risk of heart diseases and hardening of the arteries by reducing LDL cholesterol levels and reducing the hip-waist ratio significantly.
So if you TSH blood test resulted 4 or more make sure to discuss the treatment plan with your doctor.