An underactive thyroid can affect anyone at any time of their life, yet the illness is most common in women. Many people remain undiagnosed, since the symptoms are often easily confused with other illnesses.
The thyroid gland can be found in the front of your neck and secretes hormones into the blood stream which regulates your cells and keep your organs in good working order. Underactive thyroids are normally either congenital or caused by your immune system attacking the gland mistakenly.
An underactive thyroid becomes a problem when the gland stops producing enough hormones to regulate the body – this is medically known as hypothyroidism. This can result in a number of problems, with the most common symptoms of an underactive thyroid gland being tiredness, weight gain and depression.
Other symptoms of an underactive thyroid include sensitivity to the cold, dry skin and hair, brittle nails, thinning hair, a hoarse voice, problems with memory and concentration, constipation, irregular menstrual periods, a slow heart rate and muscular pain. Swelling of the thyroid gland can also occur, this is known as goitre. If you are experiencing a combination of these symptoms then taking a trip to see your GP could be well worth your time.
Although uncomfortable, most of the time an underactive thyroid is fortunately not too serious if detected early on and treatment is relatively straight forward. Diagnosis is simple – your GP will ask you a few questions and probably take a blood test to check for antibodies in your blood. Once the results are received and confirmed positive treatment can start.
Treatment usually takes the form of a hormone replacement medicine, such as levothyroxine, that starts as a low dose then builds up over the months. Once the correct dose has been established, you will be tested each year to check the levels of your thyroid hormones, and this regular monitoring is an important part of keeping you fit and healthy. Most sufferers will require treatment for the rest of their lives, however with careful management of the illness should be able to live happy, healthy lives with little discomfort.
Many people across the UK are unaware that they are suffering from an underactive thyroid yet suffering due to the affect it inflicts on their lives. This is why it is important that if you are suffering from any of the underactive thyroid symptoms that you visit your GP and have it checked out.