Hypothyroidism, also called underactive thyroid, is when the thyroid gland doesn’t make enough thyroid hormones to meet your body’s needs. The thyroid is a small, butterfly-shaped gland in the front of your neck. Thyroid hormones control the way the body uses energy, so they affect nearly every organ in your body, even the way your heart beats. Without enough thyroid hormones, many of your body’s functions slow down. Women are much more likely than men to develop hypothyroidism. The disease is also more common among people older than age 60.
Hypothyroidism can contribute to high cholesterol so people with high cholesterol should be tested for hypothyroidism. Rarely, severe, untreated hypothyroidism may lead to myxedema coma, an extreme form of hypothyroidism in which the body’s functions slow to the point that it becomes life threatening. Myxedema coma requires immediate medical treatment.
Hypothyroidism has many symptoms that can vary from person to person. Some common symptoms of hypothyroidism include fatigue ,weight gain, a puffy face ,trouble tolerating cold, joint and muscle pain ,constipation, dry skin, dry, thinning hair, decreased sweating, heavy or irregular menstrual periods, fertility problems, depression, slowed heart rate, goiter. Because hypothyroidism develops slowly, many people don’t notice symptoms of the disease for months or even years. Many of these symptoms, especially fatigue and weight gain, are common and don’t always mean that someone has a thyroid problem.
Hypothyroidism has several causes, including Hashimoto’s disease, thyroiditis, or inflammation of the thyroid, congenital hypothyroidism, or hypothyroidism that is present at birth, surgical removal of part or all of the thyroid, radiation treatment of the thyroid and some medicines.
Your doctor will take a medical history and do a physical exam, but also will need to do some tests to confirm a diagnosis of hypothyroidism. Many symptoms of hypothyroidism are the same as those of other diseases, so doctors usually can’t diagnose hyperthyroidism based on symptoms alone. Because hypothyroidism can cause fertility problems, women who have trouble getting pregnant often get tested for thyroid problems.
Hypothyroidism is treated by replacing the hormone that your own thyroid can no longer make. You will take levothyroxine NIH external link, a thyroid hormone medicine that is identical to a hormone the thyroid normally makes. Your doctor may recommend taking the medicine in the morning before eating.Your doctor will give you a blood test about 6 to 8 weeks after you begin taking thyroid hormone and adjust your dose if needed. Each time your dose is adjusted, you’ll have another blood test. Once you’ve reached a dose that’s working for you, your health care provider will probably repeat the blood test in 6 months and then once a year.Your hypothyroidism most likely can be completely controlled with thyroid hormone medicine, as long as you take the recommended dose as instructed. Never stop taking your medicine without talking with your health care provider first