Hypothyroidism is a fairly common condition that predominantly affects women, though men are also known to be affected. Hypothyroidism is caused by abnormal functioning of the thyroid gland. The thyroid gland is one of the major glands in the system and plays a very important role in metabolism. Hypothyroidism is a condition that is caused when the thyroid gland secretes lesser than adequate quantities of the thyroid hormone. Hypothyroidism, when left untreated, can significantly impair the metabolic and growth functions of the entire system.
There are two forms of hypothyroidism. In primary hypothyroidism the thyroid stimulating hormone known as TSH is released by the pituitary gland, however, the thyroid gland is unable to release thyroid hormone into the bloodstream. In secondary hypothyroidism, the secretion of the thyroid stimulating hormone itself is insufficient and the thyroid gland is not stimulated to produce the thyroid hormone.
In both forms of hypothyroidism, symptoms experienced are similar.
One of the early symptoms of hypothyroidism could be a persistent sense of fatigue and tiredness. There could be a feeling of exhaustion even if one has not done anything strenuous. There could also be lethargy that prevents one from doing one’s planned activities or putting things off.
Another commonly reported symptom of hypothyroidism is a feeling of drowsiness throughout or at intervals during the days. This feeling of drowsiness and also feeling an urge to sleep may persist even if one has had adequate sleep at night. Typically, many people with hypothyroidism note that they sleep more than they used to.
Sudden and fairly rapid weight gain is another common symptom of hypothyroidism. This weight gain can happen even if there is no obvious change in the calorific intake or exercise and is caused on account of a shift in the body’s metabolism on account of low thyroid levels. Often the weight gain may be as much as 30 pounds in just one year.
Another symptom that is associated with hypothyroidism is low tolerance for cold weather. The thyroid hormone plays a significant role in maintaining body temperature. Since the metabolism of the body slows down, many people with hypothyroidism tend to feel very sensitive to cold temperatures.
Sudden and unexplained hair loss in more than normal quantities may be an associated symptom of hypothyroidism, although there may be many other reasons for hair loss.
Since thyroid metabolism is connected to emotional balance as well, many individuals with hypothyroidism may also notice feeling depressed or in a low mood. Sudden fluctuations in mood and bouts of anxiety are also common.
In some, hypothyroidism may also include dry skin, sudden lapses in memory, difficulty in concentration or paying attention to a task and so on. As with many other illnesses, symptoms of hypothyroidism may not always lead to a diagnosis of hypothyroidism. However, if you are experiencing any or all of these symptoms, it would be advisable to consult an endocrinologist and commence treatment. Hypothyroidism, while common is also, fortunately, fairly easy to treat once diagnosed.