This topic provides
information about hypothyroidism. Hypothyroidism means your thyroid is not
making enough thyroid hormone. If you are looking for information about when
the thyroid makes too much thyroid hormone, see the topic
We are in the midst of a global energy crisis but it has nothing to do with
oil. The problem is unexplained fatigue.
"The single biggest complaint I hear from my patients, day in and day
out, is fatigue," says cardiologist Nieca Goldberg, MD, Director of the NYU
Medical Center Women's Heart Program and associate professor at the NYU School
If you are getting a healthy 7 to 8 hours a night and you're still tired,
Goldberg says it's time for a check–up to uncover the causes for fatigue.
Having a low level of thyroid hormone affects your
whole body. It can make you feel tired and weak. If hypothyroidism is not
treated, it can raise your
cholesterol levels and make you more likely to have a
heart attack or
stroke. During pregnancy, untreated hypothyroidism can
harm your baby. Luckily, hypothyroidism is easy to treat.
of any age can get hypothyroidism, but older adults are more likely to get it.
Women age 60 and older have the highest risk. You are more likely to get the
disease if it runs in your family.
What causes hypothyroidism?
In the United States,
the most common cause is
Hashimoto's thyroiditis. It causes the body’s
immune system to attack thyroid tissue. As a result,
the gland can't make enough thyroid hormone.
Other things that
can lead to low levels of thyroid hormone include surgery to remove the thyroid
gland and radiation therapy for cancer. Less common causes include viral
infections and some drugs, such as lithium.
What are the symptoms?
Hypothyroidism can cause
many different symptoms, such as:
Symptoms occur slowly over time. At first you might not
notice them, or you might mistake them for normal aging. See your doctor if you
have symptoms like these that get worse or won't go away.
How is hypothyroidism diagnosed?
Your doctor will
ask questions about your symptoms. You will also have a physical exam. If your
doctor thinks you have hypothyroidism, a simple blood test can show if your
thyroid hormone level is too low.
How is it treated?
Doctors usually prescribe
thyroid hormone pills to treat hypothyroidism. Most people start to feel better
within a week or two. Your symptoms will probably go away within a few months.
But you will likely need to keep taking the pills for the rest of your life.
It's important to take your medicine just the way your doctor
tells you to. You will also need to see your doctor for follow-up visits to
make sure you have the right dose. Getting too much or too little thyroid
hormone can cause problems.