What is hypothyroidism? Signs and Symptoms

What is the thyroid?

The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped endocrine gland usually located in the lower front of the neck below the larynx (the voice box). The thyroid’s job is to make thyroid hormones, which are secreted into the blood and then carried to every tissue in the body. Thyroid hormone helps the body use energy, stay warm and keep the brain, heart, muscles, and other organs working as they should. The main hormone made by the thyroid is thyroxine, also called T4 because it contains four iodine molecules.

Small amounts of another and more potent thyroid hormone containing three iodine molecules, triiodothyronine (T3) are also made by the thyroid gland. However, most of the T3 in the blood, made from T4 in other body tissues. Thyroid hormones control the way every tissue in your body uses energy. They are essential to help each cell in your body’s tissue and organs work right. For example, thyroid hormone controls the body’s temperature, heart rate, blood pressure, and the rate at which food is turned into energy (metabolism).

What is hypothyroidism?

Hypothyroidism is an underactive thyroid gland. Hypothyroidism means that the thyroid gland can’t make enough thyroid hormone to keep the body running normally. People are hypothyroid if they have too little thyroid hormone in the blood. Common causes are autoimmune disease, such as Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, surgical removal of the thyroid, and radiation treatment.

Hypothyroidism is a condition in which your body lacks adequate thyroid hormone.  If you have been diagnosed by your physician as having hypothyroidism, you are one of over five million Americans having this common medical condition.  Some degree of thyroid hormone deficiency may affect as many as 5-10 of all women.

Signs and Symptoms of hypothyroidism?

Hypothyroidism has a variety of symptoms. Symptoms are something you see, feel and/or experience yourself. Many of these symptoms ofte,n confused with other health conditions. When your thyroid hormone levels are too low, your body’s cells cannot get enough thyroid hormone. This causes your body’s processes to start slowing down. For example, the body makes less heat and less energy, causing organs like the brain and bowels to move more slowly. As the body slows, you may notice that you feel colder, you tire more easily, your skin is getting drier, you’re becoming forgetful and depressed, and you’ve started getting, constipated.


The number and severity of symptoms vary with the duration and degree of thyroid hormone deficiency.   In fact, some individuals with hypothyroidism have no symptoms at all. Hypothyroidism may cause the thyroid gland, located at the base of the neck, to become inflamed and enlarged.

Although, enlarged gland may not be noticeable when looking at the neck, the first sign of a swollen thyroid (also called a goiter) may be a “tight collar.” Left untreated, hypothyroidism and its symptoms usually worsen.  Rarely, complications can result in severe life-threatening depression, heart failure or coma. Hypothyroidism can be easily, diagnosed with a blood test and is easily, treated.

It is very important that a patient receives the correct amount of thyroid hormone.  Not enough hormone may be, indicated by continued fatigue, mental dullness or muscle cramps.  Excessive thyroid hormone could cause symptoms of nervousness, palpitations, insomnia, or osteoporosis.

People with hypothyroidism may experience these symptoms:-

  • Fatigue
  • Facial and hand puffiness
  • Weakness
  • Slow movements
  • Weight gain or increased difficulty in losing weight
  • Irritability
  • Intolerance to cold
  • Decreased libido
  • Muscle aching and cramps
  • Coarse, dry hair
  • Constipation
  • Dry, rough pale skin
  • Depression
  • Hair loss


  • Memory loss
  • Abnormal menstrual cycles or heavy menses



One can not treat Hypothyroidism permanently, but in almost every patient, hypothyroidism can be completely controlled, treated by replacing the amount of hormone that your own thyroid can no longer make, to bring your T4 and TSH levels back to normal levels. So even if your thyroid gland can’t work right, T4 replacement, restore your body’s thyroid hormone levels and your body’s function. Synthetic thyroxine pills contain hormone exactly like the T4 that the thyroid gland itself makes.

All hypothyroid patients except those with severe myxedema (life-threatening hypothyroidism), treated as outpatients — not having to be, admitted to the hospital. For the few patients who do not feel completely normal taking a synthetic preparation of T4 alone, the addition of T3 (Cytomel) may be of benefit.

You’ll need to have your TSH checked 6 to 10 weeks after a thyroxine dose change. You may need tests more often if you’re pregnant or you’re taking a medicine that interferes with your body’s ability to use thyroxine. The goal of treatment is to get and keep your TSH in the normal range. Babies with hypothyroidism must get all their daily treatments and have their TSH levels checked as they grow, to prevent mental retardation and stunted growth. Once you’ve settled into a thyroxine dose, you can return for TSH tests about once a year.

Tell your family members. Because thyroid disease runs in families, explain your hypothyroidism to your relatives and encourage them to get periodic TSH tests. Concern doctors and your pharmacist about your hypothyroidism and the drug with which it is being, treated. If you, seeing an endocrinologist, ask for copies of your reports to forward to your primary care doctor. People who have hyperthyroid symptoms should have their TSH tested. So go for the test today.

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