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The Ultimate Guide to Your Thyroid: Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment
The Ultimate Guide to Your Thyroid: Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment
Base Medical Team avatar
Written by Base Medical Team
Updated over a week ago

So you’re doing everything right: your diet is on point, you’re getting your workouts in regularly, and you’re overall practicing healthy habits to a T.

And yet … something’s just not right. You’re feeling super tired, or you have unexplwained weight changes, or maybe you’re feeling depressed or anxious.

Maybe, the issue is your thyroid.

Your thyroid is one of the most important glands in your body – it’s responsible for producing hormones that are so integral for your body functions that when something’s off, you can really feel it.

And yet, the symptoms can be attributed to so many different things that it can be hard to pinpoint your thyroid as the root cause. The best way to figure out for sure is to take a hormone test, but in the meantime, there are things you can do right now to get a handle on those symptoms at home.

Here’s everything you need to know about your thyroid, how to know if there’s something wrong, and how you can stop the symptoms from getting in the way of your day-to-day.

The Ultimate Guide to Your Thyroid: Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment

In Brief:

  • Your thyroid is responsible for producing the hormones T4 and T3 - and don’t worry, we’ll dive more into this later. For now, just know that they’re responsible for some of your most crucial body functions, and when there’s something wrong with your thyroid, it can lead to a wide range of frustrating symptoms.

  • Hypothyroidism, or an underactive thyroid and lessened hormone production, is one of the more common thyroid disorders, with the risk increasing as you age and especially if you are female.

  • Traditional thyroid testing can lead to the under-detection of hyperthyroidism, so it’s important to know how your hormone levels stack up if you have a concern.

  • At-home testing with Base makes it easier than ever before to quickly detect irregularities in your hormone levels and determine your next step.

What Is The Thyroid, In 30 Seconds?

Your thyroid is a powerhouse of a little gland. It’s found in the base of your neck and is responsible for making two different hormones: T4 (thyroxine), which then hits your bloodstream and turns into its active form T3 (triiodothyronine).

Now, T3 and T4 are crucial for providing energy to almost every organ in your body. They’re there regulating your metabolism, making sure your body is at the right temperature, and they’re even responsible for keeping your heart rate normal — among other things!

So in short, your thyroid hormones are absolutely crucial for carrying out some of the most basic functions you need for life.

Why Should I Care?

So, the hormones T3 and T4 from your thyroid are traveling throughout your body, acting on a wide variety of cells. They each affect different systems, but the end result is that both hormones provide energy to your cells and determine the speed at which they work.

This means that if your thyroid is off, you are going to feel it, and you’re not going to like it.

The work that your thyroid does through these two hormones is pretty far-reaching, affecting nearly every system in your body. So if there’s something wrong with your thyroid, you’re almost definitely going to be feeling the effects, which can range through almost your entire body and put you in a world of frustration.

And besides the frustration of brain fog or an unexplained weight change, it’s not going to be good news for your long-term health either. Undiagnosed or untreated thyroid issues can lead to serious consequences like heart problems and infertility.

What are the different thyroid issues?

There are a couple of ways that your thyroid could be off:

  • Hypothyroidism: you have an underactive thyroid that isn’t producing enough T4

  • Hyperthyroidism: your thyroid is going overboard and producing way too much T4

  • Hashimoto’s Disease: an autoimmune response that causes your body to attack your own thyroid and leads to hypothyroidism

Hyperthyroidism vs. Hypothyroidism: What’s The Difference, And Which Is More Common?

Hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism both affect your hormone levels, but usually in opposite ways.

Hypothyroidism is the more common condition of the two in the United States. Since hypothyroidism means that your thyroid is underactive and not making enough T4, you might experience low thyroid symptoms like weight gain as your metabolism slows down, a decreased heart rate, brain fog, and digestive issues. Hypothyroidism might also be the root cause of depression, which could be a reason that your antidepressants like Wellbutrin aren’t working effectively.

On the other hand, hyperthyroidism indicates that your thyroid is overactive and producing too many hormones. This means that it can have an opposite effect to hypothyroidism: you might see unexplained weight loss, anxiety, irritability, and a rapid heart rate.

Think of it this way: without enough T3 and T4 (hypothyroidism), everything slows down. If you have too much (hyperthyroidism), everything starts to speed up — and both of these are going to spell bad news for your health.


Get started by checking your thyroid hormones lab values with Base.

What Can Cause A Thyroid Condition?

A thyroid condition can develop from a number of different things.

Your thyroid might be overactive if you develop nodules on your thyroid or if you have an autoimmune disorder like Grave’s disease, which can lead to an overstimulation of your thyroid and the overproduction of T4.

When it comes to hypothyroidism, you’re more at risk of developing an underactive thyroid if you’re:

  • Over 60

  • Are female

  • Have an autoimmune disorder

  • Have had radiation treatments

  • Take certain medications

  • Nutritional deficiencies like iodine

Ironically, you might also develop hypothyroidism if you were previously treated for hyperthyroidism and took medication that worked a little too well and permanently lowered your thyroid activity.

Signs That You Might Have A Thyroid Issue

Both hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism are going to affect the same organs and body functions, albeit in different ways.

Some signs that you might have a thyroid issue include:

  1. Weight loss or weight gain

  2. Fatigue

  3. Moodiness

  4. Irregular heartbeat

  5. Swelling in legs or face

  6. Heavier-than-normal or irregular periods

  7. Weakness

  8. Digestive issues

  9. Depression

  10. Thinning hair

Hypothyroidism And Your Period

Hypothyroidism in women poses yet another serious problem: an irregular menstrual cycle and heavy periods.

Your reproductive cycle is another system that depends on thyroid hormones, which means that an unusual period could be cause for concern.

One study on menstrual cycles and hypothyroidism found that 23.4% of the women with hypothyroidism evaluated had irregular and/or very heavy periods.

Periods can be painful and uncomfortable as it is, so make sure to get your thyroid checked if you think that there’s something wrong there and are showing other symptoms that indicate there’s something going on with your hormones.

Hypothyroidism And Your Sex Drive

And on a related note, hypothyroidism could also be contributing to a lowered sex drive.

Hormones play a huge role in your sex life, and an interruption of that probably isn’t going to make you super excited to head to the bedroom. Hypothyroidism can lead to less lubrication, depression, and erectile dysfunction — none of which are great for a healthy sex life. And when your thyroid isn’t making enough hormones, you might be low on testosterone, an important hormone for sex drives in both men and women.

So I have some symptoms. How can I check that it’s actually my thyroid?

It’s pretty simple: if you think there’s something wrong with your thyroid, you can go the traditional route and get a blood test … or you can go the innovative route, and get a blood test. Either way, it involves blood work.

If you go the traditional route (ie going in to see a health care provider), they’ll do a blood test to check your thyroid. Usually, they’re looking at your thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH), which signals to your thyroid that it’s time to start producing T4.

But you could also be producing a normal amount of TSH and still having issues with your thyroid itself, so they might also take a look at your T4 levels. Because those T4 hormone tests aren’t as common and TSH tests don’t always tell you the full story, hypothyroidism often goes underdiagnosed.

Now, on to the new and innovative:

You can test your thyroid hormone levels directly using Base, a convenient at-home hormone test that gives you a screenshot of all the biomarkers that make up your health.

Since the consequences of a thyroid hormone imbalance are so far-reaching, Base includes your thyroid levels in three different focus areas:

  • Diet: You can see your nutrition profiles along with your hormone levels and determine whether you have a deficiency in your diet that’s causing those frustrating symptoms.

  • Stress: A thyroid issue can have overlapping symptoms with chronic stress, so you can take a look at your thyroid in addition to other biomarkers like cortisol levels (aka your stress hormone)

  • Energy: Many of the worst symptoms of a thyroid imbalance have to do with a decrease in your energy levels, so here you can take a look at both hormone and vitamin levels to see where the issue lies

Using a simple finger prick or saliva sample, you can take a look at your hormone levels, as well as your lipid panels, protein content, and other key indicators, to determine where the problem is stemming. And the best part: you’ll get the results that’ll tell you what’s going on, but you’ll also get a plan to help you improve that’s tailored to your specific needs!

Not only is Base a more convenient option than going to the doctor’s, but it’s also more cost-effective than other tests on the market when you receive data-driven, easy-to-follow advice.


Get started by checking your thyroid hormones lab values with Base.

What are the different kinds of thyroid medications?

If you are found to have a thyroid disorder, you’re going to need to check in with your physician, who can prescribe the right medication for treatment.

Hyperthyroidism can be treated with:

  • Radioactive iodine, which is taken orally and shrinks enlarged thyroids

  • Anti-thyroid medications, which prevent your thyroid gland from overproducing hormones

Hypothyroidism can be treated with a synthetic thyroid hormone called levothyroxine. This T4-replacement gives your body the hormones it needs to function, but can’t fix the thyroid itself, so it’s a lifelong medication that will likely have to be adjusted for dosage as time goes on.

How long can you go without medication before symptoms start up again?

Unfortunately, hypothyroidism doesn’t have a permanent fix, and you’ll probably need to keep up with the medication for the rest of your life.

Levothyroxine medication takes about four to five weeks to work its way out of your body, but you’ll likely start to feel the effects as quickly as the first week that you stop taking it.

Long story short: always make sure that you’re staying on top of your medication!

Join Base to test and improve your thyroid.

The symptoms can be broad, but knowing is the first step for improving, and it’s important to be able to see whether your issues are being caused by an out-of-whack thyroid.

Using Base as an at-home solution, you can conveniently pinpoint the issues, whether they be your thyroid or something else, then get the right information to actually improve!

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