Information for Patients
Your thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland in your neck, just above your collarbone. It is one of your endocrine glands, which make hormones. Thyroid hormones control the rate of many activities in your body. These include how fast you burn calories and how fast your heart beats. All of these activities are your body's metabolism. If your thyroid gland is not active enough, it does not make enough thyroid hormone to meet your body's needs. This condition is hypothyroidism.
Hypothyroidism is more common in women, people with other thyroid problems, and those over 60 years old. Hashimoto's disease, an autoimmune disorder, is the most common cause. Other causes include thyroid nodules, thyroiditis, congenital hypothyroidism, surgical removal of part or all of the thyroid, radiation treatment of the thyroid, and some medicines.
The symptoms can vary from person to person. They may include
- Weight gain
- A puffy face
- Cold intolerance
- Joint and muscle pain
- Dry skin
- Dry, thinning hair
- Decreased sweating
- Heavy or irregular menstrual periods and fertility problems
- Slowed heart rate
To diagnose hypothyroidism, your doctor will do a physical exam, look at your symptoms, and do thyroid tests. Treatment is with synthetic thyroid hormone, taken every day.
NIH: National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases