Hypothyroidism: danger of self-diagnosis

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Some medical conditions can have vague symptoms -- like hypothyroidism. When the butterfly-shaped thyroid gland, at the front of the neck, produces too little thyroid hormone -- it can slow essential body processes, including heart rate and metabolism. (KFSN)

Some medical conditions can have vague symptoms -- like hypothyroidism. When the butterfly-shaped thyroid gland, at the front of the neck, produces too little thyroid hormone -- it can slow essential body processes, including heart rate and metabolism.

Hypothyroidism can cause people to feel fatigued, they could gain weight, they could have brain fog -- but plenty of people with those symptoms may have a perfectly functioning thyroid.

Still, people who may not have a thyroid problem, but are desperate to lose weight and feel more energetic, sometimes turn to thyroid supplements. Which are often marketed as boosting energy and metabolism, 'naturally.' Experts at Consumer Reports say helping yourself to thyroid supplements is a bad idea and possibly even dangerous.

When you're looking at these bottles, you will see mostly herbal ingredients on the label. But according to a study published in the journal, Thyroid -- they found that in 9 out of 10 supplements tested, there were actual thyroid hormones. An excess of thyroid hormones in those supplements can cause bone thinning and even worse -- an erratic heartbeat, which can lead to a stroke.

Some supplements may also contain significant amounts of iodine, which in some people, can cause the thyroid to slow down -- leading to weight gain and fatigue. The exact opposite of what many people hope these supplements will do for them. Also, watch out for kelp on the list of ingredients - which is another potential high source of iodine.

Hypothyroidism can be determined with a blood test. If you suspect you have a thyroid problem, Consumer Reports urges you to see your doctor. Don't take matters into your own hands.

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