I have taken a specific little pill most of my life. This pill, called Synthroid (Levothyroxin), is used to manage my thyroid levels by supplementing the amount of thyroxin in my body. I get my blood levels tested, either every six months or once each year, depending on the need for adjustment. All I knew growing up, was that I had to take this little pill once each day and had to have my blood tested every so often. I really didn’t understand it all! Why am I doing this? What difference is this pill making? How is this helping me,? What happened to me? These were just a few questions I asked myself and others growing up!
As an infant, my parents noticed that I wasn’t crying, as most babies do. They found this odd and it concerned them so they took me to the doctor who then ran several tests at a children’s hospital. Also, my face looked swollen and my eyes appeared to roll. The doctor found that I was born with only around 1/4 of a thyroid gland. The thyroid is a small gland in the low neck. Newborn’s born now are tested while in the hospital before they go home, to determine if their thyroid is healthy. This was something that I was concerned about as I began having children!
I know that my parents made sure that I took my Synthroid, daily, but as I got older and left home, I questioned why I had to take it each day and figured it wouldn’t hurt if I missed a day or two, after all, how much good could this “little pill” be? As I get older, the more I realize how important it is to be on the correct dose. I realize how much impact the thyroid has on practically every system in my body.
Regular symptoms of Hypothyroidism include: fatigue, increased sensitivity to cold, constipation, dry skin, weight gain, puffy face, hoarseness, muscle weakness, elevated blood cholesterol level, muscle aches, tenderness, stiffness, pain, stiffness, swelling in joints, heavier than normal or irregular menstrual periods, thinning hair, slowed heart rate, depression, impaired memory, enlarged thyroid gland(goiter).
Hypothyroidism in infants include: yellowing of skin, large protruding tongue, difficulty breathing, hoarse crying, an umbilical hernia
Hypothyroidism in children and teens include: poor growth, resulting in short stature, delayed development of permanent teeth, delayed puberty, poor mental development.
When to see a doctor: If you feel tired for no reason or have any other signs of hypothyroidism such as dry skin, pale, puffy face, constipation or a hoarse voice. It is very important to follow up with a doctor, preferably an Endocrinologist, to be sure you are on the correct dose of medicine. If it is not correct, your dosage may need to change. An Endocrinologist is a doctor who specializes in glands and the hormones they make. They deal with metabolism, or all the biochemical processes that make your body work, including how your body changes food into energy and how it grows. (http://webmd.com) After any changes are made, your doctor may ask you to return to have your blood level checked again soon to be sure that your new dose is working as it should. I have found that something as simple as an infection, can change my levels. (http://mayoclinic.org)
If you are concerned at all regarding anything thyroid related, I highly recommend that you speak to a primary care doctor, then an Endocrinologist. Hyperthyroidism(over-active thyroid) could be another problem you are facing, among several other possibilities.
Untreated Hypothyroidism(under-active thyroid), over time can cause health problems such as obesity, joint pain, infertility and heart disease.
My Current Struggles
I have found that my most common symptoms, affecting me as well as my family, are depression and fatigue. When my levels are really bad, I also become rather irritable. These can really cause trouble in family and personal relationships! Lately, my joints have become very sore as well. My skin is very dry, my hair falls out and I am very sensitive to cold. I found that even altering my diet slightly by changing my sugar levels, really impact my mood. I have to be careful and aware of any changes that I make.