Hypothyroidism--or underactive thyroid--is a condition in which the thyroid gland is not producing enough hormones and the body begins to see the affects of this gradually over a period of time. According to the Mayo Clinic, hypothyroidism happens most commonly in women over the age of 50. Hypothyroidism upsets the natural chemical reactions needed to keep your body going, but it can be cured with proper treatment.
Hypothyroidism normally strikes people later in life, so when they start to experience some of the early symptoms of the condition they often just attribute these feelings to advancing age. Some of the early symptoms of hypothyroidism are fatigue and a general feeling of sluggishness. You may begin to feel pain or stiffness in the joints. You also may feel like your joints are swelling at times.
If you are suffering from hypothyroidism your skin will begin to pale. Your skin also may start to dry out and become scaly. You may notice that you are more sensitive when touching cold or hot things, and the skin on your face may begin to swell. Your hair and fingernails also will feel brittle and break more easily.
As hypothyroidism advances, you may begin to experience bouts with constipation. You also may start to notice a slow but steady weight gain even though you are not eating any more than you usually do. You may even start to experience a slight weight gain as you start to eat less and lose your appetite.
Hypothyroidism can cause changes to the demeanour and behaviour of the person suffering from it. Over time you may display problems with concentration and your memory may start to fail you. You may also start to show changes in behaviour such as mood swings and consistent bouts with depression. It is possible that without treatment the depression could become deep and chronic. You also may show signs of increasing irritability and anxiousness.
If you are suffering from hypothyroidism you may experience a slowing heart rate. As the heart rate slows your desire to accomplish daily tasks may diminish and your sexual libido may disappear.
Severe hypothyroidism is initially diagnosed through a physical examination by your physician who will then order a blood test to check the level of thyroid hormone in your blood.