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Thyroid Problems and Fatigue: The Link

Thyroid problems can affect anybody and at any age. However, some groups are more at risk; women, and especially those over 60, are far more likely to develop problems than men. It's estimated that about 4.6% of the U.S. population suffer from a thyroid condition. Read on to discover more about the link between thyroid problems and fatigue.

An under-functioning metabolism leads to lower energy levels

Thyroid Problems

The thyroid gland, situated in the neck area, is an endocrine gland. The main function of this gland is to control metabolism and growth in early life. In order to create the correct hormones, the gland needs iodine and amino acids from protein. Lacking these proteins can cause in problems, although thyroid problems can also be genetic.

Thyroid problems include hyperthyroidism, which occurs when too much thyroid hormone is produced, and hypothyroidism, which occurs when not enough hormone is produced. The latter is far more common.

Fatigue

Fatigue is a feeling of relentless tiredness and a common symptom of thyroid problems. A person experiencing fatigue will often have heavy eyelids, lack focus, difficulty concentrating, and irritability. It can often be remedied with extra sleep, but sometimes even after sleeping, a person may not feel refreshed. Someone suffering from thyroid problems often feels the need to nap during the day, finds the thought of getting up and performing everyday tasks exhausting, and often find herself oversleeping at night or in the mornings.

The Link

There is a strong link between thyroid problems and fatigue, and chronic fatigue should always be checked by a doctor, as it can be a sign of hyper - or hypothyroidism.

Often, thyroid problems involve insufficient hormone production, so the metabolism doesn't function as efficiently. As metabolism controls the way the body uses energy, it isn't surprising an under-functioning metabolism leads to lower energy levels. Thyroid hormones also regulate other hormones, which slow down when thyroid hormones aren't at the right level.

The good news is that thyroid conditions are highly treatable, and often just dealing with the disorder is enough to rid oneself of fatigue. Treatment for hypothyroidism is simple and safe and involves taking a daily pill to replace the missing thyroid hormones. Nonetheless, it's important to seek medical advice as soon as you begin to develop fatigue, as it can cause unwelcome health problems in the long run, such as joint problems or infertility.

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Sources:
  • National Endocrine and Metabolic Diseases Information Service. (2013). Hypothyroidism. Retrieved September 4, 2014, from http://www.endocrine.niddk.nih.gov/pubs/hypothyroidism/
  • National Health Service UK. (2013). Chronic fatigue syndrome - Treatment. Retrieved September 4, 2014, from http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Chronic-fatigue-syndrome/Pages/Treatment.aspx
  • Thyroid UK. (2014). Research Articles and Papers on: Subclinical Hypothyroidism. Retrieved September 4, 2014, from http://www.thyroiduk.org.uk/tuk/research/Subclinical-Hypothyroidism.html