Hypothyroidism is a very common condition classified by the underproduction of thyroid hormones by the thyroid. Also referred to as an underactive thyroid, this condition typically affects women over the age of 60. Since the thyroid (a small, butterfly-shaped gland at the base of the neck) regulates many of the metabolic functions of the body, this condition upsets the normal balance of chemical reactions within in the body.
Hypothyroidism may occur due to a number of factors, including an autoimmune disease, treatment for hyperthyroidism, thyroid surgery, radiation therapy, and various medications. A family history of thyroid disease also makes a person more susceptible to developing this condition.
Symptoms of hypothyroidism include:
- Weight gain
- Increased sensitivity to cold
- Dry skin
- Puffy face
- Muscle weakness
- Elevated blood cholesterol levels
- Thinning hair
- Slowed heart rate
- Pain, stiffness, and swelling of the joints
- For women, heavier than normal or irregular menstrual periods
- Impaired memory
Since a lot of these symptoms can be attributed to the normal aging process, it is imperative that anyone experiencing signs of hypothyroidism be evaluated by a medical professional. If left untreated, this condition can cause heart problems, goiter formation, mental health issues, infertility, and birth defects, among other issues.
Tampa General Hospital, recognized by U.S. News & World Report as one of America's Best Hospitals for Diabetes & Endocrinology, has the resources to effectively treat hypothyroidism, as well as myriad of other thyroid disorders.