What is Hypothyroidism?

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When the thyroid gland does not create enough thyroid hormones to meet the body’s needs, hypothyroidism occurs. The thyroid gland is inactive. 

Hyperthyroidism, on the other hand, occurs when the thyroid produces too much thyroid hormone. However, the relationship between hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism is complicated, and in some cases, one can lead to the other. 

Thyroid hormones control metabolism, or how the body burns calories. Many of the body’s activities slow down when thyroxine levels are low.

The thyroid gland contains two lobes, one on each side of the windpipe, and is located in the front of the neck below the larynx, or voice box. 

It’s an endocrine gland, which means it’s made up of hormone-producing cells. Hormones are chemical messengers that communicate with the body’s organs and tissues, regulating activities including metabolism, growth, and mood. 

Thyroid hormone synthesis is controlled by thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH), which is produced by the pituitary gland. 

This, in turn, is controlled by the hypothalamus, a brain area. TSH makes ensuring that adequate thyroid hormones are produced to suit the body’s needs.

Hypothyroidism has a wide range of symptoms due to the fact that thyroid hormones affect various organ systems. 

Thyroid hormones triiodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine are produced by the thyroid gland (T4). These control metabolism and have an impact on the following functions:

 • brain development

 • breathing

 • heart and nervous system functions

 • body temperature

 • muscle strength

 • skin dryness

 • menstrual cycles

 • weight

 • cholesterol levels

Symptoms of hypothyroidism commonly include, but are not limited to:

 • fatigue

 • weight gain

 • cold intolerance

 • slowed heart rate, movements, and speech

 • joint and muscle pain, cramps, and weakness

 • constipation

 • dry skin

 • thin, brittle hair or fingernails

 • decreased sweating

 • pins and needles

 • heavy periods, or menorrhagia

 • weakness

 • high cholesterol

 • puffy face, feet, and hands

 • insomnia

 • balance and co-ordination issues

 • loss of libido

 • recurrent urinary and respiratory tract infections

 • anemia

 • depression

If left untreated, the following symptoms can manifest:

 • hoarseness

 • puffiness in the face

 • thinned or missing eyebrows

 • slow heart rate

 • hearing loss

If it develops in children or teenagers, the signs and symptoms are generally the same as adults.

However, they may also experience:

 • poor growth

 • delayed development of teeth

 • poor mental development

 • delayed puberty

Hypothyroidism is a condition that takes time to develop. Symptoms can be vague and nonspecific, and they can go unnoticed for a long time. 

Symptoms vary a lot from person to person, and they’re also shared by other illnesses. A blood test is the only method to get a definitive diagnosis.