Underactive thyroid, or hypothyroidism, is a condition that occurs when the thyroid gland does produce enough hormones. These hormones help to regulate many functions in the body. When this gland does not produce enough hormones, you can develop various symptoms and serious illness.
The primary job of your thyroid gland is to regulate your metabolism. If your thyroid gland is under active, your body's metabolism slows down. Symptoms may not be felt until later in the disease, and they often start out as mild and get progressively worse over time.
Weight gain, feeling sluggish and being tired are the most common symptoms of this disease. Needing more sleep than normal, feeling depressed and having a lack of overall energy are often reported by patients.
Some people with an underactive thyroid also experience dry, pale skin, sensitivity to cold, sore muscles, slowed movements and problems with memory and concentration. Some patients develop a puffy face, constipation and high cholesterol levels.
Symptoms in Severe Forms
If you condition is not treated, it can lead to fertility problems. You may develop swelling in your thyroid gland, which shows up as a goitre in your neck. Other more serious symptoms include an enlarged heart and higher risk for birth defects in children born to mothers with underactive thyroids.
Having an autoimmune disorder increases your chances of developing an underactive thyroid. It is the most common cause for this condition. Receiving radiation for cancer and some prescription medications can cause this condition as well.
Diagnosis and Treatment
An underactive thyroid can be detected through a simple blood test. Taking medication that contains a synthetic version of the thyroid hormones is the preferred method of treatment.