TSH (thyroid-stimulating hormone) is a hormone produced by the pituitary gland that regulates the production of thyroid hormones T3 and T4 in the thyroid gland. High TSH levels may indicate an underactive thyroid, a condition known as hypothyroidism.
When the thyroid gland is not producing enough T3 and T4, the pituitary gland produces more TSH to try and stimulate the thyroid gland to produce more hormones. This can cause TSH levels to become elevated.
Symptoms of hypothyroidism may include fatigue, weight gain, cold intolerance, constipation, dry skin, hair loss, and depression. If left untreated, hypothyroidism can lead to more serious health problems, including heart disease and neurological issues.
There are several potential causes of hypothyroidism, including an autoimmune condition called Hashimoto's thyroiditis, iodine deficiency, certain medications, radiation therapy, and pituitary gland dysfunction. Women over the age of 60 are also at an increased risk of developing hypothyroidism.
Treatment for hypothyroidism typically involves medication to replace the deficient thyroid hormones. This medication is often taken in the form of a synthetic thyroid hormone called levothyroxine. Regular monitoring of TSH levels is important to ensure that medication dosages are adjusted appropriately.
In addition to medication, lifestyle changes such as regular exercise and a healthy diet can also help support thyroid function and manage symptoms of hypothyroidism.
It is important to work with a healthcare provider to diagnose and manage hypothyroidism and high TSH levels. With proper treatment and management, most people with hypothyroidism are able to lead healthy, active lives.