Hypothyroid conditions occur when the thyroid produces too little thyroid hormone. Without enough thyroid hormone, the body becomes tired and run down.
Hypothyroidism causes every organ system to slow, including the brain, which affects concentration; the gut, causing constipation; and metabolism — the rate at which the body burns energy — resulting in weight gain. Although there are many different causes of hypothyroidism, the resulting effect on the body is the same
Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis is the most common cause of an underactive thyroid. Around 10% of women have signs of a failing thyroid by the age of 50 and by age 60, around 15-20% of women and 5-10% of men have signs of a failing thyroid. Generally the symptoms of an underactive thyroid are the opposite of those produced by an overactive thyroid.
Symptoms of Hypothyroidism
The severity of symptoms from an underactive thyroid depend on the level of decrease in thyroid hormone and the duration of the condition. Often, mild symptoms are mistaken for other problems.
Symptoms of Hypothyroidism may include:
- A dislike for cold weather
- A slow heart rate
- Poor appetite
- Weight gain
- Slowed movements, speech and thoughts
- Swollen lips and a puffy face
- The most effective and efficient way to diagnose hypothyroidism is by measuring the thyroid stimulating hormone – TSH level
- The TSH level will be elevated together with low thyroid hormone, T4 and T3, levels
- Other tests may be performed to determine the cause of hypothyroidism, including measuring thyroid antibody levels.
- The treatment for underactive thyroid conditions is thyroid hormone supplement – thyroxine medication, which is taken once a day, preferably in the morning
- Although thyroid hormone drugs produce no allergic reactions, their effectiveness may be decreased by interactions with other drugs or food supplements – so it is important that you tell your doctor about other drugs and supplements you’re taking
- People who need thyroid hormone supplements usually need to take them for life and need regular blood tests to ensure the level is optimal
If you have any concerns about hypothyroidism or thyroid symptoms, make an appointment to see your local doctor.