What Is Hypothyroidism?
What is hypothyroidism? Learn the causes, symptoms, and treatment of an underactive thyroid.
Hypothyroidism occurs when there is not enough secretion of thyroid hormones. This causes the body to slow down. A number of conditions can cause this disorder, and it is usually progressive and irreversible. However, treatment is nearly always completely successful and allows the patient to live a normal life.
Many people attribute the early symptoms of hypothyroidism to stress or aging. They begin to feel chronically tired and overly sensitive to cold. Muscle and joint aches often develop. Weight gain is common even though appetite diminishes. Constipation can be a problem, and
premenopausal women may experience heavy periods or, in rare cases, a milky discharge from the breasts. As free thyroxine levels fall over the following months, the skin becomes rough and dry, hair coarsens and mental activity, including concentration and memory, may become slightly impaired. Depression also develops. Some experts believe that even mild thyroid failure may increase susceptibility to major depression
If untreated, a round puffy face with a sleepy appearance, dry rough skin and loss of hair may develop. Other later symptoms include a husky voice and numbness of the arms and legs. Muscle pain and weakness may occur, in some cases causing carpal tunnel syndrome. Some people experience hearing loss. Depression, mental confusion, unsteadiness, daytime sleepiness, and memory problems may occur, especially in the elderly.
Obstructive sleep apnea is common
In secondary hypothyroidism, which is caused by pituitary growth, in addition to the usual symptoms of primary hypothyroidism, sexual drive and fertility may be impaired in both men and women. Decreased adrenal gland function may lead to an array of symptoms, including exhaustion,
low blood pressure and salt craving. Headaches and visual disturbances may also develop.
Hypothyroidism can be diagnosed by a simple blood test so if you suspect that you may have it, consult your general practitioner.