What is Hypothyroidism?
Hypothyroidism is a disorder of the thyroid gland located in the neck. It occurs when the body lacks the hormones normallyproduced by the gland. In most cases the thyroid fails to produce enough of these hormones and the condition is known as an underactive thyroid.
Symptoms of Hypothyroidism
Hypothyroidism is a medical condition that can cause a number of noticeable symptoms:
One of the most common symptoms of hypothyroidism is feeling tired and worn out all the time.
Even if you have a healthy diet but don’t exercise, you can still experience sudden weight gain due to the decrease in metabolic rate.
It’s common to experience dry and flaky skin in areas such as your elbows, knees and face due to the dryness caused by hypothyroidism.
Hypothyroidism can make it difficult for the body to adequately process food so the food moves slower through the digestive system, producing constipation.
The lack of thyroid hormones can disrupt the growth cycle of your hair and create an imbalance in your hair’s natural growth and loss cycles, leading to hair thinning and loss.
Often times, people with hypothyroidism feel moody, irritable, depressed, or anxious.
Muscle Aches and Pains
Due to the decrease in metabolism, individuals may experience extended periods of muscle pain and discomfort, which can be severe occasionally.
The diagnosis of hypothyroidism begins with a physical exam and medical history. Your primary care provider may decide to order a blood test to confirm the diagnosis.
The most commonly used tests to diagnose hypothyroidism are the Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH) test, the free T4, free T3 and TPO Thyroid Peroxidase antibody tests. A positive result of any of these tests will confirm the diagnosis.
The most common treatment for hypothyroidism is hormone replacement therapy. This involves taking medications that replace the hormones the body is not producing. These medications are taken everyday and allow the body to maintain desired levels of thyroid hormones in the bloodstream.
It’s important to realize that, although the symptoms of hypothyroidism can be uncomfortable and disruptive, they can be managed with the right treatment and lifestyle changes.
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