If you often feel you’re dragging yourself through the day or you've been struggling to lose weight for a long while despite eating all the right things, it might be worth considering whether your thyroid is doing the job it should.
The thyroid – a butterfly-shaped gland located in the neck – is the body’s internal motor, effectively setting the speed at which the body works. If it’s not up to scratch, you might experience a whole host of uncomfortable or annoying symptoms (see below).
The hormones it makes affect most cells in the body by increasing the basal metabolic rate, as well as augmenting heat production. That’s why people with an underactive thyroid often struggle to lose weight, feel the cold more easily and have low energy – imagine a record player playing a record at reduced speed.
Do any of these sound familiar?
I feel tired all the time
My hands and feet are always cold
I’m putting on weight for no reason
I can’t seem to lose weight whatever I do
I’m often constipated
My muscles ache
I get muscle cramps more often
I feel irritable
Generally, I’m feeling a bit low
I’m struggling to fall pregnant
My periods are heavier than usual
My hair and skin feel so dry
My sex drive is flagging or non-existent
I’m losing hair at the outer edge of my eyebrow.
If more than a few symptoms resonate with you, visit your GP to discuss symptoms and ask to get your thyroid tested.
One of three things will happen after you have a blood test at the GP. The doctor may tell you your results look normal, in which case no further action will be taken*. Or you might be sent for further testing, if the result looks a little off, either immediately or for a retest in a few months’ time.
It’s much more common to have an underactive thyroid than an overactive one, and more common still for the underactive thyroid to be an autoimmune conditio