It’s painful and frustrating to feel like you’re trying harder than anyone to lose weight, especially when the scale refuses to budge. You work harder at the gym, you eat healthier at home, and you move more throughout the day and still, nothing. It’s understandable if you’re starting to think you might have an underactive thyroid. But do you need to make an appointment with an endocrinologist ASAP? Probably not, unless you’ve checked all these boxes.
Underactive thyroid, or hypothyroidism, shares symptoms with a lot of other conditions, making it difficult to diagnose — especially if you’re using Dr. Google. Yes, it’s OK to look for answers. But before you book an appointment and take time off to get there, try checking these things. Some of them are things I wish I had done before getting my hypothyroidism diagnosis. Others are common sticking points frequently confused with underactive thyroid.
Either way, if you can check all these things off, you’ll make a stronger case when you do book an appointment with the doctor. Even in the doctor’s office, hypothyroidism is frequently diagnosed as a number of other issues. Anything you can do ahead of time to help your doctor also helps you in the long run.
Start here if you think you have underactive thyroid
As I mentioned above, hypothyroidism symptoms overlap with many other conditions. Constantly feeling cold, for example, is also common in people who don’t have much muscle mass. Exhaustion could be the cause of, well, basically every health condition as well as burning the candle at both ends, something more people are guilty of these days.
So your first priority is fixing lifestyle factors that could lead to these symptoms, but you’re going to have to track it all. Keep a dedicated journal on your weight, your energy levels, how much sleep you got, supplements you take, and what you’re eating. Make sure you’re also weighing that food to rule out portion size issues. If you find that you’re eating too much for your height and activity level, adjust it down to maintenance.
If you don’t actually have an underactive thyroid, these lifestyle changes should clear up your symptoms. But if you do, you now have a powderful document ready to show your doctor that could speed up diagnosis by months. It’s the biggest thing I wish I had done before seeking a doctor’s help about my thyroid.
When to seek help for an underactive thyroid
Once you’ve racked up one or two months of data in your journal, make your appointment. If your symptoms haven’t cleared after reducing stress, boosting sleep, and tracking calories, your doctor can confidently diagnose your thyroid. If you’ve gained weight while eating maintenance calories, it’s a pretty clear sign something is wrong. You can check out my tips for how to lose weight with hypothyroidism before you’re on meds if you’re not happy maintaining your weight.
If, however, your symptoms interfere in your daily life and responsibilities, make an appointment now. It’s difficult, but not impossible, to find an endocrinologist who will diagnose based on your symptoms. You might have to see more than one doctor, but don’t give up. Stand by your right to feel normal and speak up about your symptoms.