If you’ve been suffering from weight gain, cold spells, or moodiness, you might be one of the more than 12 percent of Americans that have a thyroid issue.
The thyroid is a gland in the neck shaped like a butterfly. Although it doesn’t have ducts, the fascinating little gland is responsible for much hormone regulation in the body. The protrusion of the thyroid creates the Adam’s apple in humans.
There are several medical conditions that can affect or stem from the thyroid, including over and under-activity of the gland. Hyperthyroidism is overactivity, and can result in unwanted weight loss, moodiness, or other maladies. Hypothyroidism is a precarious under-activity of the thyroid gland.
Hypothyroidism is more common in women than it is in men, but more and more men are contracting the disease. Some of the symptoms can be easily mistaken for low testosterone. Let’s look at what occurs with hypothyroidism in men, and understand some of the treatments available.
Hypothyroidism Symptoms Checklist
Hypothyroidism in men can have many of the same symptoms as in women, but some are more pronounced or may be easily mistaken for low testosterone or other health issues.
Weight gain is one of the most common symptoms of hypothyroidism in men and women. Because the gland regulates metabolism and heat generation in the body, if it’s not working properly you might balloon up.
Weight gain can also be a sign of many other diseases or medical conditions, so it’s best to check with a doctor. If you suspect that you have hypothyroidism or some other hormonal imbalance, ask your doctor to do a blood test.
Another symptom of under-active thyroid problems in men is low libido, which also co-occurs in cases of low testosterone. When your libido has tanked, your sex life will suffer. Rule out other conditions or talk to your doctor about hypothyroidism.
Many people suffering from advanced hypothyroidism in adulthood report feeling cold all the time. If you have a chill that you can’t seem to shake, it might be time to see a specialist. The thyroid is sometimes called the furnace of the body — which means your body temperature can be lower than ideal if it’s underperforming.
Fatigue and mood swings are also common gripes of patients that have hypothyroidism. Some report being tired 18 hours a day or more, and say that going to work is often the only activity they can perform in a day.
Moodiness can come in lots of flavors, but will have you the form of weepiness, general malaise, or even depression. While mental illness needs to be treated with the help of a psychiatric professional or counselor, it’s important to consider physical conditions that might contribute to an imbalance in one’s brain chemistry.
Many men won’t report these symptoms to their doctor, as they don’t always recognize them. Some people fail to understand that these could be symptoms of a disease or advanced hypothyroidism in adulthood.
There is also a genetic predisposition to thyroid problems. Relatives with hypothyroidism — in men or women — could mean that you are at a higher risk of having the condition. Other medical issues, such as the thyroid-based autoimmune disorder Hashimoto’s disease, can also be passed through families.
It’s best to get checked out as soon as you experience symptoms.
These are the major symptoms of hypothyroidism in men, but there are some minor things to look out for, as well.
Pain in the neck? You should take it seriously! Thyroid pain can also be an indicator of hypothyroidism in men.
Other symptoms that might not seem so obvious can also be warning signs of thyroid trouble. In men, trouble growing facial hair can mean hypothyroidism. Small bald spots, brittle cuticles, and other hair and nail problems could mean your gland isn’t functioning right.
Dry skin is also a common complaint of those with under-active thyroids. Hormones excreted and regulated by your thyroid help to control the oils in your skin. Dryness can mean there’s an imbalance somewhere.
Cognitive impairment is a terrible symptom, because it’s hard to isolate. But if you’re foggy-headed, have your thyroid levels checked.
Having problems staying regular? Constipation is another symptom that is overlooked in many cases. Hypothyroidism in men can manifest in lots of different ways, but unmoving bowels is a key indicator.
More than 75 percent of people with low thyroid levels report muscle aches and pains. You can have gout, lower back pain, shoulder pain, or even carpal tunnel syndrome. Puffiness in the face and thinning hair are tale tell signs, too.
Last but not least, low testosterone can actually be a symptom of hypothyroidism in men or Hashimoto’s. Erectile dysfunction is a common sign that something’s off with your thyroid. It’s always best to talk with a doctor about getting a definitive blood test.
Studies have shown there is a connection between your testosterone levels and your thyroid. If you want to learn more about that interplay, click here!
Causes of Hypothyroidism in Men
There are a number of causes of hypothyroidism in men and women, but we will focus here on the ones that affect men the most.
It’s rare, but an iodine deficiency has long been known as a culprit for hypothyroidism. You can buy iodine over the counter, but never start a medical treatment at home without talking to your doctor. It’s not the most common reason for the disease, but one you’ll hear about a lot — especially if you Google around.
Hashimoto’s in increasingly common in the United States and can wreak havoc on your thyroid. The autoimmune disorder weakens the gland, and makes hormone production difficult or improperly regulated.
The Mayo Clinic reports that researchers aren’t exactly sure what causes Hashimoto’s in men, but weight, lifestyle, and genetics are all likely factors. The typical American diet doesn’t lend itself to proper thyroid health, so this could also be a factor in the disease.
If you’ve ever taken thyroid medication, especially for hyperthyroidism, you may have overcorrected. Response to other thyroid treatments is one of the main causes of hypothyroidism in men.
Male and female thyroid patients with previous mental health issues may also have hypothyroidism due to medications. Mood stabilizers such as lithium, in particular, have a negative affect on thyroid function. These drugs can also impact erectile dysfunction and testosterone levels, so always be clear about what you’re taking.
If you’ve had radiation therapy such as cancer treatment, it might have blown your thyroid, too. You can’t discount other diseases and their link to your thyroid. Talk with your doctor about what you can do to help your thyroid health, especially if you’re having other heavy medical treatments.
Previous thyroid surgery is also a culprit. Having some or all of your gland removed can cause advanced hypothyroidism in adulthood. Hyperthyroidism is rare after having part of the gland removed, but you can’t rule anything out!
It’s not common, but congenital diseases that you’ve had since birth can contribute to thyroid issues. Your thyroid gland may not have developed properly in the womb or during childhood, and it can cause you problems as an adult. Your pituitary gland can also mess up your thyroid function, as glands work together to regulate hormones in the body.
Associated Health Problems
Hypothyroidism can lead to a host of other health problems in both men and women. If you have suffered from a particular problem, such as heart disease or cognitive impairment, hypothyroidism can make it worse. And some people develop terrible health issues simply as a result of hormone imbalance.
All of that starts in your thyroid.
One of the largest and most obvious associated health problems is a goiter. If you develop a goiter, that is a clear indicator that your thyroid is horribly malfunctioning.
Much like diabetes, advanced hypothyroidism in adults can cause a tingling sensation in your hands and feet. It’s called peripheral neuropathy, and it can be debilitating and painful.
Low or high levels of testosterone or estrogen can also cause health problems. Your thyroid could be the culprit! You might need to learn more about the symptoms of low estrogen in men.
Heart problems and high LDL cholesterol can be thyroid-related health problems. Infertility in men and women can also occur. Men can suffer from prolonged lower levels of testosterone, which can impair functioning in several parts of life.
The worst possible form of hypothyroidism is rare. It’s called myxedema, and can result in loss of consciousness. If you’re having increased mental impairment and lethargy, talk to your doctor as soon as you can.
Types of Treatment
There are many different kinds of treatment for hypothyroidism in men and women. Sometimes, men and women are treated differently, because their ideal hormone levels are different.
First, you should be seen by your general practitioner. If you think you have a thyroid issue, please let your health care professional know as soon as possible. They will test certain levels of hormones in your blood and will be able to tell if something is off in your neck.
Taking certain medications — such as biotin or blood pressure medicine — might affect your results. Talk to your doctor about any medications you are taking before doing your thyroid level tests.
Many times, hypothyroidism in men and women can mean lifelong treatment. If you and your doctor opt for this route, you will probably be prescribed a laboratory-made thyroid hormone can levothyroxine. The brand names for these synthetic drugs are usually Levo-T and Synthroid.
There are other medications often recommended by doctors, as well. Your exact dosage and prescription will depend on your various hormone levels in the thyroid.
Almost always, you will take this medication in pill form. And you may have to take it for the rest of your life, as it regulates your thyroid levels through the pill. Levothyroxine does not heal your thyroid organically.
It simply gets your thyroid hormones at the right level. Other treatments will do the same — improve your levels with synthetic hormones. Thousands upon thousands of people have seen excellent results with hypothyroidism and other endocrine illnesses from hormone therapy.
Many people take these medications and life long, healthy lives. Often, weight gain from hypothyroidism is reversed. Moodiness, low libido, and low testosterone levels can also be improved with the right medications and dosage.
There are other, non-traditional forms of treatment. These can include iodine treatments, among other methods. Any treatment should be under the direction of a licensed medical professional. Sometimes, other hormone therapies can help regulate your thyroid.
Talk with your doctor about testosterone and other possible treatments. Hypothyroidism in men is not a do it yourself problem!
Advances in the Field
The American Thyroid Association is the advocacy organization for thyroid disease in the United States. They have worked on safe experimental drug trials, and have implemented a mandatory test soon after birth to check thyroid function.
Thyroid science has advanced much in recent decades, and there are at least three peer-reviewed journals that publish about updates and breakthroughs.
If you are a survivor or patient with hypothyroidism, you can get involved with this organization or other local organizations. Sometimes, being around people who have the same health issues is educational and enlightening.
Pituitary gland science is also closely related to thyroid function and breakthroughs. Many times, researchers will specialize in both. It’s an exciting time to be in the field, and a good time to be a patient.
Once you are correctly diagnosed, it’s not hard to get well! Clinics like this one in Milwaukee can help men get on the right track with their hormones.
Learning More About Your Health
Taking your health into your own hands is a crucial part of wellness. Millions of people disregard symptoms and can live in pain or illness for years. You can do better than that!
Hypothyroidism in men is less common than low testosterone, which affects about 25 percent of men over the age of 30. If you’d like to learn how to test for low testosterone, click here to read more.