The thyroid gland is located in the front of the neck, where it produces thyroid hormone. Thyroid hormone regulates the body’s metabolism. Hypothyroidism is the term for low thyroid hormone production.
Signs and Symptoms of Hypothyroidism
- Unexplained weight gain
- Thinning hair
- Dry skin
- Cold intolerance
- Puffy face
- Poor memory
- High blood cholesterol
- Muscle weakness
- Slow heart rate
- Enlarged thyroid gland (goiter)
- Pain and stiffness of joints
- Muscle aches, tenderness
- Heavy or irregular menstrual periods
The most common cause of hypothyroidism in the United States is Hashimoto’s disease, in which the immune system attacks the thyroid gland. Medical science is still researching why this happens. Another cause is pituitary deficiency, in which the pituitary gland in the brain fails to signal the thyroid to produce hormone. In earlier times iodine deficiency often caused hypothyroidism, reflected in centuries-old paintings of individuals with goiters. In the United States this has largely been eliminated by the addition of iodine to table salt. Other causes include a medication called lithium, used for bipolar disorder, radiation of the neck in treating cancer, and surgical removal of part or the whole thyroid gland. Women over 60 are at particularly high risk.
Treatment of hypothyroidism involves providing thyroid hormone that the gland fails to produce. Synthroid (levothyroxine) tablets are given to raise blood thyroid hormone to normal levels. This medication is available in a variety of doses and finding the right dose for each patient takes time and gradual dosage changes. Blood levels must be drawn once a year to be sure that the dose remains adequate.
Did you know, our physicians can treat hypothyroidism through telemedicine and prescribe you levothyroxine online? You can receive up to 90-day supply. You may also order your own discounted thyroid labs here to check your thyroid function.