Hypothyroidism is a condition in which your thyroid gland does not produce certain hormones. A number of health issues can be caused by untreated hypothyroidism such as obesity, joint pain, heart disease and infertility.
Signs and symptoms may include fatigue, increased sensitivity to cold, constipation, dry skin, weight gain, puffy face, hoarseness, muscle weakness, elevated blood cholesterol, muscle aches, tenderness and stiffness, joint swelling, heavier than normal or irregular menstrual cycle, thinning hair, slowed heart rate, depression, impaired memory, enlarged thyroid gland or goiter.
If you are experiencing these symptoms, you can use the following diagnostic tool. This at-home test is something you can do to identify a possible problem to discuss with your trusted health care provider who will then order thyroid blood tests to confirm or rule out.
What you’ll need to check your thyroid at home
You’ll need a good basal body thermometer (not a digital one) or an old-fashioned glass thermometer with mercury. These two types of thermometers are calibrated differently and can report slightly different temperatures. The test was developed with a glass thermometer and is, therefore, the preferred tool for accuracy.
- Place thermometer by your bed before you go to sleep. You’ll need to be able to reach it without getting out of bed or exerting much energy. If you’re using a glass thermometer, shake it thoroughly to reset it. The mercury will need to fall beneath 95F.
- Over a period of three days, take your temperature immediately after waking up. It should be done around the same time each day before getting out of bed. To do this, place your thermometer under your armpit for 10 minutes while you lie down and rest your eyes without moving around a lot. If you’re using a digital thermometer, press the button at the end of 10 minutes to check your temperature.
- Write down your temperature, the time and date on a piece of paper.
- Repeat this process for three consecutive days.
Special note: For menstruating women, your temperature naturally fluctuates throughout your cycle. In order to get accurate readings for this assessment, start taking your temperature the day after you start your menstrual cycle.
What should you be looking for?
According to many experts, a healthy resting temperature ranges between 97.8 to 98.2 degrees Fahrenheit or 36.6 to 36.8 degrees Celsius. So if your temperature is consistently lower than the healthy resting range for at least three days, this may be an indication of hypothyroidism.
On the other hand, temperatures consistently higher than the healthy resting range may indicate hyperthyroidism or the possibility of an infection. And some doctors consider any temperature below 98 degrees to be suggestive of possible hypothyroidism.
Certain conditions unrelated to thyroid function can cause you to have an elevated waking temperature such as drinking alcohol the night before, extreme stress and hormonal birth control can all cause elevated temperatures. Also, recently discontinuing birth control could cause lower temperatures.
Remember, this test is considered to be helpful in identifying possible thyroid dysfunction, but it should not be used as a sole piece of diagnostic criteria.
Make sure you see a physician if you suspect you have hypothyroidism. If you have any questions or would like to schedule an appointment, please contact me at (855) 771-7546 (SLIM) or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dr. Valentine is a weight loss consultant, a health consultant and a chiropractor. You can reach her at 855-771-SLIM (7546) or stop by A Slimmer You at 10300 49th St. N, Suite 211. Log on to www.aslimmeryou.us for more information.