Both under and overactive thyroids are more common in women than men. Because symptoms of an over or underactive thyroid are quite general (for instance, weight gain or weight loss can both be symptoms of abnormal thyroid function), it’s important to monitor your health, noting when symptoms occur, over what period of time, and whether or not they have progressed.

Fortunately, you can easily test your thyroid hormone levels from home.

Hyperthyroidism

This happens when the thyroid gland produces too much thyroxine or triiodothyronine; these hormones stimulate the body’s metabolism and can result in:

  • Hyperactivity
  • An increase in appetite
  • Sudden change in weight (weight loss or weight gain)

Once detected, hyperthyroidism can be treated through medicine, radiotherapy, or surgery. Medication used slows the thyroid gland’s production of hormones. If it remains undetected or untreated, hyperthyroidism can cause other serious health problems, such as irregular heart rhythm and osteoporosis. In the worst cases, it may result in death.

Hypothyroidism

Hypothyroidism occurs when the thyroid is underactive. An underactive thyroid does not produce enough thyroxine, which is a hormone that controls how much energy the body uses. This condition is easily treatable and usually not serious, although symptoms can cause significant discomfort.

Symptoms may include:

  • Weight gain
  • Fatigue
  • Depression
  • Sensitivity to the cold
  • Dry skin and hair
  • Aching muscles

These symptoms typically begin slowly and occur over time. This results in confused diagnoses. Although it is generally not serious, when it goes undetected, hypothyroidism can result in heart disease, mental health issues, and infertility.

Test your thyroid

Testing your thyroid is the only way to know for sure that you have an over or underactive thyroid. It involves a simple blood test which can be taken by your local GP or ordered online as a home test kit. The Webdoctor thyroid kit tests for:

  • TSH: tests levels of thyroid stimulating hormone to detect abnormalities
  • FT4: tests levels of free thyroxine to detect hypothyroidism
  • FT3: tests levels of free triiodothyronine to detect hyperthyroidism

If you are concerned about your thyroid, book a video consultation to speak with a GP or order a home test kit to test your thyroid function yourself.