Subtle changes in your face could be hinting at hypothyroidism

Dr Renee talks about symptoms of hypothyroidism

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Hypothyroidism describes the underproduction of hormones by the thyroid gland, which sits at the front of the neck, above the collarbones. Because it shares several symptoms with other conditions, it can easily be confused for something else. Subtle changes in facial expressions, however, should never be ignored.

The MSD Manuals explains: “Hypothyroidism is under activity of the thyroid gland that leads to inadequate production of thyroid hormones and a slowing of vital body functions.

“Facial expressions become dull, the voice is hoarse, speech is slow, eyelids droop and the eyes and face become puffy.”

Hormone fluctuations caused by the condition may lead to several other changes in facial expression, due to droopy eyelids or having a puffy and swollen face, which are both symptomatic of low thyroid levels.

The absence of eyebrows is a common sign, which reflects generalised hair loss in the body.

This is usually the result of disruptions to the production of T3 and T4 hormones, which control several bodily processes including hair growth.

When disrupted, the development of the hair at the root is compromised, which causes hair to fall out.

When it fails to grow back, it leads to thinning of the hair on the scalp and other areas such as the outer part of the eyebrows.

One way to tell whether these changes could be hinting at an underactive thyroid is to look for other warning signs, like fatigue, sensitivity to the cold, depressive mood and trouble concentrating

This can be complicated, however, because the appearance of symptoms tend to be slow.

In fact, it can take several years before a person realises they have a medical problem.

Health coach Rory Batt, MSc, BSc, warned: “It’s quite hard to tell that it’s hypothyroidism, in particular, that’s behind some of these symptoms until it’s confirmed with functional testing.

“Tests available from the NHS are not very descriptive, and do not give the whole picture.”

According to the expert, the most notable symptoms associated with the condition are fatigue, brain fog and depression. A patient may also experience:

  • Weight gain
  • Painful joints
  • Hair loss
  • Constipation.

How to prevent hypothyroidism:

In countries where iodine does not commonly feature in diet, populations may be at a greater risk of developing hypothyroidism.

Although this is rarely the case in developed countries, a lack of dietary iodine may call for the prescription of supplements.

There is great interest in the prevention of hypothyroidism, but there is not yet any known way to prevent the condition.

“In order to prevent its onset, it helps to be aware of the causes of hypothyroidism so they can be limited or avoided,” adds Mr Batt.

Diagnosing the condition early will lead to timely treatment, which is bound to enhance the life quality of patients.

A health care professional will consider several factors when identifying the cause of the condition, including symptoms, a physical exam and blood tests.

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