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Discouraging News: Delores, Part 3

Once she decided to dedicate a certain time every day to walking, Delores found she rather liked it. She had to juggle the time, as she worked on the computer mornings for a company marketing wedding caterers. That was okay, though, because Delores discovered herself really thinking through problems she was encountering via the marketing company, and coming up with solutions. It was as though the movement….maybe the blood flow…….was opening up her mind! It was interesting that she was able to think more clearly when walking briskly.

She also began to notice the abundance of wildlife around the lake. Painted turtles and foxes, ducks and geese! Delores was raised in a large city, and her eye wasn’t really trained to notice shy wild creatures, but Herb let her know where the animals were hiding. In fact, Herb was enjoying every minute of those daily walks! He seemed more energetic, and his vet visit revealed the loss of a couple of pounds.

Delores however, wasn’t so flexible as Herb. She was becoming discouraged. She hadn’t lost a pound, for all her dedication of a month, and seemed over-tired, fatigued by early evening.  Why did everyone else lose weight with a sensible diet or exercise but her? It was very depressing. She began to consider giving up. Why exert herself for no results?

Delores was not aware that some postmenopausal women  experience a slowed metabolism, resulting in a condition called hypothyroidism.

Symptoms of hypothyroidism tend to develop slowly, often over several years. At first, a person may just feel tired and sluggish. Later, she  may develop other symptoms of a slowed down metabolism, including:

  • Weight gain, even though not consuming more food
  • Increased sensitivity to cold
  • Constipation
  • Muscle weakness
  • Joint or muscle pain
  • Depression
  • Fatigue (feeling very tired)
  • Pale dry skin
  • A puffy face
  • A hoarse voice
  • Excessive menstrual bleeding

In addition to these symptoms, people with hypothyroidism may have high blood levels of LDL cholesterol. Naturally, the fatigue and resulting sedentary lifestyle will lead to possible type 2 Diabetes and heart disease.

Delores found that she did not have all of the symptoms on this list. But, she had just enough of them to begin considering the possibility of hypothyroidism slowing her down. For instance, she had gained a lot of weight in the last 5 years, and she wasn’t really consuming much more food than previously.  She certainly had some joint pain, and she got chilled easily.

Delores found that thyroid disorders can be pretty hard to diagnose, though, because they are so often linked to other problems, such as her type 2 diabetes. However, certain tests are routinely done to check for thyroid insufficiency.

Delores was given a blood test to determine how much thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) was actually circulating in her blood. A radioactive iodine uptake test  was prescribed next, and then a thyroid scan.

Delores discovered that her thyroid production was on the low end of normal. However, low-normal did not seem normal for her. Considering her symptoms and the factor of her high cholesterol and type 2 Diabetes, the physician decided to treat Delores for hypothyroidism.

Hypothyroidism is treated with medicine to supply the body with the thyroid hormones it needs to function right. The most commonly used medicine is levothyroxine (le-voh-thy-ROK-suhn). This is a man-made form of T4. It is exactly the same as the T4 that your thyroid makes. When you take T4, your body makes the T3 it needs from the T4 in the pills. A man-made form of T3, called liothyronine (ly-oh-THY-roh-neen), is also available. Some doctors and patients prefer a combination of T4 and T3 or T3 by itself. Most patients with hypothyroidism will need to be on thyroid hormone treatment for the rest of their lives.


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