Whatever the words you may use to label it – whether lethargy, sluggish, exhaustion – the fact remains that fatigue is one of the common symptoms associated with a thyroid problem. You may find that you need to take naps just to make it through the day. No amount of sleep will seem enough to stop you from feeling exhausted. Your endurance may fall and you may find that you are no longer able to exercise with the same stamina as before. Your usual amount of sleep will no longer be sufficient to make you feel energized. There are some key things to be aware of, as it concerns the relationship between issues with your thyroid and fatigue.
Why Is Fatigue Related to Thyroid Condition?
The thyroid gland much resembles a butterfly and is located in the front part of your neck. It produces hormones called thyroxin which affect the way the body uses energy. It essentially controls the way your body assimilates food by turning it into energy. The thyroid also has an effect on your bones, heart, muscles and cholesterol levels. A condition called hypothyroidism is what results when the thyroid fails to make enough hormones.
How much energy your body has is significantly dependent on the amount of hormones produced by the thyroid. Therefore, if the level of hormones is less, this will result in reduced energy which ultimately leaves you feeling tired and weak.
Some signs to look out for include:
Inconsistent exercise regimes or not feeling that you have enough energy to exercise at all.
Feeling heavy-headed, mainly in the middle part of the day. This is as a result of the fact that your head is very sensitive to changes in the levels of hormones from the thyroid.
Falling asleep easily when you are sitting or standing still.
If you wake up feeling refreshed and continue throughout the day feeling energized; are mentally alert and your muscles show no signs of fatigue, then these are signs that you are not suffering from the fatigue related to the thyroid. On the other hand, if you are feeling less and less like this, then it is likely that you have a thyroid-related problem.
How Should I Know If I Have Underactive Thyroid?
If you do have an underactive thyroid then your body will definitely present with some clear signs, the primary ones of which are fatigue, then depression and weakness in the muscles. Other symptoms include:
Sensitivity to low temperatures
Problems in losing weight, whether or not you diet and exercise properly
Dryness of the skin and hair
Loss of hair, which usually starts thinning from the outer part of the eyebrows
Aches, stiffness and tenderness of the muscles
Swollen and painful joints
Menstrual periods that are irregular or heavier than usual
In order to confirm that hypothyroidism is the issue, doctors usually use a thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) test to check your thyroxin level.
When to See a Doctor
You should seek medical help if you begin to feel overly tired without an apparent reason or if you are experiencing any of the stated symptoms of hypothyroidism which include hoarseness, constipation, dry, scaly skin and puffiness in the face. You should schedule visits for continual check-ups on your thyroid if you have undergone thyroid-related surgery before; been treated with radioactive iodine, received anti-thyroid medication; or had radiation treatment to your chest, neck or head. You should be mindful that these types of treatments will likely cause hypothyroidism even after many years.
If you have high levels of cholesterol in your blood you should consult your doctor about the possibility of hypothyroidism as the cause. If you are undergoing hormone therapy for hypothyroidism then you should see your doctor as often as recommended. This is important for controlling your hormone level.
What Should I Do to Deal With Thyroid Disorder?
Hypothyroidism that goes untreated can result in the symptoms becoming more severe. The body’s attempts to correct the problem by over stimulating the thyroid can result in the gland becoming enlarged in a condition called goiter. The effects may involve slowed thought processes, forgetfulness or depression. Don’t hesitate to see your doctor.
Chronic fatigue can be due to overt hypothyroidism or "low thyroid". A doctor gives advice on chronic fatigue and low thyroid in this video: