Tired, gaining weight or depressed? 10% of us may have urgent condition taking 4 years to diagnose

Hypothyroidism (an underactive thyroid) affects up to 10% of the population. It can lead to tiredness, depression, weight gain and, if untreated, a potentially fatal heart attack.

It’s identifiable with a simple blood test, yet researchers from the University of Aberdeen found it takes an average of 4.5 years for thyroid conditions to be diagnosed, particularly for patients with hypothyroidism. In most cases, it took multiple appointments and a worsening of the severity of symptoms before a diagnosis was made.

Now a leading expert says all UK adults should take a thyroid function blood test to find out if their hormone levels are correct or whether vital treatment is needed.

Dr Avinash Hari Narayanan (MBChB), Clinical Lead at London Medical Laboratory, says: ‘Up to 10% of people are likely to be suffering from an underactive thyroid, according to research published in the DeBakey Cardiovascular Journal. Yet the Aberdeen study published last year found that it can take 4.5 years for people to be diagnosed with this potentially fatal condition.

‘Left untreated, hypothyroidism can result in the increased risk of cardiovascular disease. That’s because low levels of the hormone thyroxine can lead to increased levels of cholesterol in your blood.

‘In rare cases, a severe underactive thyroid may also lead to a life-threatening condition called myxoedema coma. Thyroid hormone levels become very low, causing symptoms such as confusion, hypothermia and drowsiness.

‘Despite the amount of people it affects, and the dangers associated with the condition, medical professionals can be slow to diagnose the problem. The University of Aberdeen study found patients, particularly women, were dismissed out of hand with patronising comments such as “eat more vegetables”, “take up jogging”, “it’s laziness” and “it’s all in your head” by GPs and even consultants.

‘My colleague, Dr Peter Basile, has explored the issue in his London Medical Laboratory Spotify Let’s Talk About Health series podcast. In the episode Underactive Thyroid, he reveals women’s symptoms are often taken as signs of the menopause and may be overlooked for years because they develop slowly.

‘That’s why it is notoriously difficult to diagnose thyroid problems without a blood test. These may be available from your doctor but are also available as a simple, but highly accurate, finger-prick blood test.

London Medical Laboratory’s Thyroid Function – Diagnosis and Monitoring test can be taken at home through the post, or at one of the many drop-in clinics that offer it across London and nationwide in over 120 selected pharmacies and health stores. For full details see: https://www.londonmedicallaboratory.com/product/thyroid-function

About Lisa Baker, Editor, Wellbeing News 4367 Articles
Editor Lisa Baker is passionate about the benefits of a holistic approach to healing. Lisa is a qualified Vibrational Therapist and has qualifications in Auricular Therapy, Massage, Kinesiology, Crystal Healing, Seichem and is a Reiki Master.