What is hypothyroidism?
Hypothyroidism is an underactive thyroid gland. It means the gland is unable to make enough thyroid hormones for the body to work properly.
The thyroid gland
A butterfly shaped gland that is situated at the front of the neck, the thyroid gland is responsible for making hormones which are carried throughout the body. The thyroid hormone helps the body to stay warm, use energy (metabolism), keep the brain, heart, muscles and other organs working as they should.
Causes/types of hypothyroidism
There are many causes of hypothyroidism. Below is a list of some of the causes:
As thyroid hormones become low, the body processes start to slow down. As this happens, some symptoms you may feel include:
You feel colder
Feel tired more easily
Get drier skin
Tend to become more forgetful
Start to get constipated
Difficult to lose weight
How is hypothyroidism diagnosed?
There are several ways your doctor will assess if you have hypothyroidism. These include:
Physical examination: physical signs of hypothyroid checked by your doctor include dry skin, swelling around eyes and legs, slower reflexes, slower heart rate. This will be initial tests done.
Blood tests: Thyroid function tests tested include levels of T4 test (thyroxine) and TSH.
How to treat hypothyroidism
Currently, patients with hypothyroid live with it for life. Exceptions are patients with viral thyroiditis, where their thyroid function returns to normal after the viral infection.
Hypothyroidism itself may become more or less severe over time. It is important to keep your medication dose right. Your doctor will be able to adjust the levels of medication after looking at your blood test results. As this is a lifelong commitment, work well with your doctor to keep the thyroid levels well controlled and the symptoms you experience will slowly disappear.
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