Blood tests are usually the first step in diagnosing hypothyroidism. Blood tests can show high or low TSH levels, which indicate that the thyroid is not producing enough hormone. Occasionally, patients with low thyroid levels are also diagnosed with pituitary disease, a condition in which the pituitary gland produces too much TSH. A TSH test involves a healthcare professional taking blood from an inner arm vein. The sample is then sent to a lab for analysis.
When a thyroid is underactive, the body switches to a slower basal metabolic rate, which results in more calories being stored as fat. As a result, hypothyroidism can result in weight gain. Many people with this condition gain between 15 and 30 pounds in the year after they are diagnosed. Additionally, muscle strength is decreased, and the breakdown of muscle tissue leads to aches and pains throughout the body.
Low thyroid levels can also affect your mental health. Many hypothyroid patients report poor concentration and slow thinking. In addition, 22% reported difficulties with everyday math, while 39% said that their memory was poor. Women with low thyroid levels may also have issues with the menstrual cycle, resulting in heavy and irregular periods.
In addition to treating the symptoms of hypothyroidism, doctors can perform surgery to remove the thyroid gland. During this procedure, the thyroid gland may leak hormones into the blood. These hormones temporarily boost the body’s thyroid hormone levels, but do not cause permanent damage.