What is it?
An underactive thyroid gland (hypothyroidism) is where your thyroid gland doesn’t produce enough hormones (T3). T3 is the major regulator of metabolism - slowing of the body’s metabolism leads to lower body temperature, constipation, and may be life-threatening if severe.
What are the symptoms?
Many symptoms of an underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism) are the same as those of other conditions, so it can easily be confused for something else. Symptoms usually develop slowly and you may not realise you have a medical problem for several years. Common symptoms include: * tiredness * being sensitive to cold * weight gain * constipation * depression * slow movements and thoughts * muscle aches and weakness * muscle cramps * dry and scaly skin * brittle hair and nails * loss of libido (sex drive) * pain, numbness and a tingling sensation in the hand and fingers (carpal tunnel syndrome) * irregular periods or heavy periods Elderly people with an underactive thyroid may develop memory problems and depression. Children may experience slower growth and development. Teenagers may start puberty earlier than normal. If you have any of these symptoms, see your GP and ask to be tested for an underactive thyroid. If an underactive thyroid isn’t treated It’s unlikely that you’d have many of the later symptoms of an underactive thyroid, because the condition is often identified before more serious symptoms appear. Later symptoms of an underactive thyroid include: * a low-pitched and hoarse voice * a puffy-looking face * thinned or partly missing eyebrows * a slow heart rate * hearing loss * anaemia
- Help your thyroid gland. Go for walks, do mild to moderate exercises to pep up your metabolic rate and mood.
- Yoga therapy will help in increasing tissue sensitivity to thyroid hormones.
- Monitor your thyroid levels every 6 months.
- Keep up a positive attitude and do not lose hope. Hypothyroidism can be managed.
- Avoid food such as turnips, cabbage, mustard, broccoli, cassava root, soybeans and peanuts. These foods naturally block the utilization of iodine in the body and can aggravate a hypothyroid condition.
- Avoid smoking since the chemicals unleashed in the body can harm the functioning of the thyroid gland.
- Do not self-medicate or discontinue medicines without your doctor’s prior consent.
Things to watch out for
GP should be contacted for conducting thyroid function test. Hypothyroidism can be treated by taking daily hormone replacement tablets, called levothyroxine, to be prescribed by GP.