Our clinician-designed quiz helps you understand whether or not your symptoms are consistent with hypothyroidism. If they are, we'll guide you towards next steps and make sure you have everything you need to pursue a diagnosis.
Hypothyroidism is a medical condition characterized by an underactive thyroid gland, which fails to produce an adequate amount of thyroid hormones. The thyroid hormones play a crucial role in regulating various bodily functions, including metabolism, growth, and development. The most common cause of hypothyroidism is an autoimmune condition called Hashimoto's thyroiditis, where the body's immune system mistakenly attacks the thyroid gland. Other causes include surgical removal of the thyroid gland, radiation therapy, certain medications, and congenital thyroid disorders.
The primary thyroid hormones affected in hypothyroidism are thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3). These hormones are responsible for maintaining the body's metabolic rate and energy levels. When the production of thyroid hormones decreases, it leads to a slowdown in various bodily functions, resulting in a wide range of symptoms.
It is essential to diagnose hypothyroidism accurately through comprehensive clinical evaluation, including a physical exam, medical history, and laboratory tests such as thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) and free T4 levels. Treatment typically involves hormone replacement therapy with synthetic thyroid hormones, such as levothyroxine, to restore normal thyroid hormone levels in the body.
Hypothyroidism can manifest in a wide range of symptoms, which may vary in severity among individuals. The symptoms often develop slowly and can be subtle, leading to challenges in diagnosis. Common signs and symptoms of hypothyroidism include:
These symptoms should prompt individuals to seek medical evaluation if they persist or worsen over time. Early detection and treatment are crucial to managing hypothyroidism effectively and minimizing potential complications.
Medical fatphobia refers to the systemic bias and discrimination against individuals based on their body size, particularly larger bodies. Unfortunately, medical fatphobia often influences the diagnosis and treatment of hypothyroidism. Research suggests that healthcare providers may overlook or misinterpret symptoms of hypothyroidism in individuals with higher body mass index (BMI), assuming that their symptoms are solely related to their weight.
One study found that larger-bodied individuals with hypothyroidism were more likely to have their thyroid function undertreated, resulting in persistent symptoms and poorer health outcomes. This bias can lead to delays in diagnosis, inadequate medication dosage, and a lack of appropriate follow-up care.
Another aspect of medical fatphobia is the focus on weight loss as a primary treatment goal for individuals with hypothyroidism. While weight loss may be a desirable outcome for some individuals, it should not be the sole focus of treatment. In fact, excessive emphasis on weight loss can perpetuate stigma and harm patients' mental and physical health.
It is crucial to recognize and address these issues to ensure equitable and effective healthcare for all individuals, regardless of their body size.
Size-inclusive care for hypothyroidism involves a patient-centered approach that prioritizes health outcomes rather than weight-focused interventions. It acknowledges that health and well-being can be achieved and maintained at various body sizes and focuses on supporting individuals in optimizing their overall health. Here are some key principles for size-inclusive care for hypothyroidism:
Implementing size-inclusive care for hypothyroidism can improve patient outcomes, increase patient satisfaction, and reduce the harmful effects of weight stigma and bias in healthcare settings.
Finding inclusive doctors can be daunting, especially when seeking treatment for conditions like hypothyroidism. Many healthcare providers still adhere to weight-centric approaches, focusing on weight loss as the primary solution, which can disregard the diverse needs and experiences of patients. That’s why we built Iconic. Our care navigation service is designed to connect members with affirming doctors who are aligned with their specific needs. With Iconic, it’s finally possible to find doctors who prioritize holistic health, emphasize well-being over weight, and provide personalized care for conditions like hypothyroidism.