Hypothyroidism or an underactive thyroid gland is a condition where there is insufficient production of the hormone thyroxine. The thyroid gland is positioned in the neck and releases the hormone thyroxine that regulates the amount of energy utilized by the body. Due to the insufficient amount of hormone, it causes most of the bodily functions to slow down.
The condition can affect both men and women but usually affect women more. It is usually triggered by an autoimmune response in which the immune system attacks the thyroid gland. This damages the gland that causes further decrease in the hormone produced.
Hypothyroidism is not usually a serious condition and can be managed using medications. Nevertheless, the condition could not be prevented.
Indications of hypothyroidism
The indications usually develop in a gradual manner over a span of a few years. Due to this, they are difficult to detect and might be even overlooked by the doctor. The usual indications include the following:
- Weight gain
- Muscle ache
- Dry skin and hair
- Feeling cold
- Irregular, heavy periods among women
The ideal way to detect if an individual has hypothyroidism is using a blood test. Once the test is performed, it shows the levels of hormones present in the body.
The treatment for hypothyroidism is usually done using a hormone replacement medication specifically levothyroxine. The medication works by replacing the thyroxine hormone that the body could no longer produce naturally.
The dosage given is based on the result of the blood test. In most cases, a low dosage is initially prescribed and followed by regular blood tests and the dosage is increased as needed.
It is important to note that levothyroxine does not typically trigger any side effects since it is a hormone that the body is missing. In some individuals, the symptoms improve almost right away but it might take a few weeks or months in others.