Hypothyroidism is an endocrine disorder where the thyroid gland does not produce enough thyroid hormone (T4). There are several causes of Hypothyroidism but the most common form is an autoimmune disorder called Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis. The thyroid controls metabolism so many of the symptoms of hypothyroidism are a direct result of a slowed metabolism.
Weight Gain/Difficulty Losing Weight
When the metabolism slows, a person’s eating habits may not change but they will gain weight (or have trouble losing). Not only that but they may eat less and still experience difficulty. This because more of the calories they eat are stored as fat, instead of being used as energy.
Sensitivity to Cold, Fatigue and Weakness
Metabolism produces heat and converts calories to usable energy. When the metabolism slows the body cools down -- causing sensitivity to cold and there’s not enough energy available to the cells -- causing fatigue and muscle weakness.
Tenderness in the Neck & Changes in Voice Tone
The thyroid gland is located on the front of the neck, on top of the voice box. In hypothyroidism the thyroid swells which causes tenderness in the neck and can also make the voice deeper.
Constipation is the most common digestive symptom and, again, it’s tied to a slowed metabolism. Fewer nutrients are metabolized so digestion slows.
Depression is the direct effect of a slowed metabolism. It also an emotional response to the weight gain, fatigue, digestive problems and other symptoms.
Hypothyroidism has many symptoms that are so vague, they are easy to ignore. Dry skin and hair could be weather-related. Irritability or decreased libido could be lifestyle-related. But, often these symptoms occur in groups with no apparent cause.
If you suspect that you may have hypothyroidism contact your doctor and request a thyroid test. Also, regular exercise will speed the metabolism and relieve many of the symptoms. If you are having problems with weight gain, be sure to log your diet and exercise habits for a period of months so that lifestyle can be ruled out as a possible cause.