ZocdocAnswersWhat are the symptoms of thyroid illness?

Question

What are the symptoms of thyroid illness?

One of the women in my family has hypothroidism that she is treated for, so I'm trying to be extra careful of my own thyroid. But what are the actual symptoms of hypothyroidism, and how is it diagnosed, and what causes it? All my aunt could tell me was 'sluggishness', but I'm sure there's more to it than that.

Answer

Hypothyroidism is one of the most common endocrine system disorders. It basically is characterized by a decrease in thyroid hormone release. 1. Symptoms? These vary, but the most common ones are cold intolerance (always under a blanket), weight gain, fatigue, slow heart rate, constipation, course hair, abnormal menstrual periods, and many others. If hypothyroidism is severe enough for long enough, patients can develop myxedema, a potentially life-threatening syndrome with edema and altered mental status. 2. Diagnosed? Hypothyroidism is diagnosed through a blood test looking for high Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH) levels. TSH is a pituitary hormone that is responsible for stimulating the thyroid hormone release. When thyroid hormone is low (because the thyroid gland isn't working), then TSH will be elevated. 3. What causes it? Hypothyroidism has many potential causes, but the most common is an autoimmune destruction of the thyroid called Hashimotos thyroiditis. This disease usually results in the slow drop in thyroid hormone over time. Hashimoto's disease sometimes does run in families. All hypothyroidism is treated by taking Levothyroxine (AKA Synthroid). If you are worried that you may have some of those symptoms above, schedule and appointment with your primary care physician. The TSH test is one of the most common tests we order. Good luck.

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