The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland located in the neck area above the sternum and above the Adam’s apple (laryngeal prominence). This special organ produces and regulates the thyroid hormone. If your thyroid is underactive, therefore producing too little hormone to properly regulate your body’s metabolic systems, you may be suffering from hypothyroidism.
Hypothyroidism is among the most common thyroid issues. It is commonly caused by an autoimmune disorder known as Hashimoto’s Disease, in which the thyroid gland is chronically inflamed and mistakenly attacked by the body’s antibodies. This damages the thyroid gland and leads to a thyroid hormone production deficiency.
The thyroid hormones affect several metabolic processes in your body. It can affect the nervous, digestive, cardiovascular, and gynecological systems – and body temperature regulations.
Because the thyroid hormone helps to regulate so many different systems of the body, there are various combinations of symptoms, including:
- Feeling fatigue or lethargy, even after a full night’s rest.
- Becoming sensitive or intolerant to the heat or cold.
- Changes in bowel movement frequency (having frequent bowel movement or constipation).
- Feeling depressed or easily frustrated.
- Having dry or extra moist skin.
- An increased or decreased heart rate.
- Experiencing a change in the heaviness or duration of periods (women only).
- Gaining or losing weight due to a change in metabolic rate.
- Showing signs of impaired memory and forgetfulness, an inability to focus or concentrate.
- Thinning of the hair or nails becoming brittle.
- Lack of sex drive.
- Changes in cholesterol levels.
The intensity and number of symptoms each patient experiences vary and depend on the degree or severity of the disease. A simple blood screening will indicate whether or not the thyroid is underactive or overactive.
Hypothyroidism can occur in anyone or any age, but women are more likely to develop this disorder than men.
Once you’ve been properly diagnosed with a thyroid problem, and depending on the severity of your hormone deficiency, your doctor will be able to take the next steps and set up a treatment plan that’s best for you.
By Dr . Nalurporn Chokrungvaranon , Endocrinologist, Diabetes Program, Bumrungrad Hospital
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