Hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid) is a condition in which the thyroid gland does not produce enough of certain important hormones.
The thyroid is a small, butterfly-shaped gland located at the base of the front of the neck, just below the Adam's apple. Hormones produced by the thyroid gland have an enormous impact on the health, affecting all aspects of the metabolism.
As long as the thyroid releases the proper amounts of these hormones, the system functions normally. Sometimes the thyroid does not produce enough hormones, upsetting the balance of chemical reactions in the body. This condition is known as hypothyroidism.
Symptoms may include:
- increased sensitivity to cold
- pale, dry skin
- a puffy face
- hoarse voice
- an elevated blood cholesterol level
- unexplained weight gain
- muscle aches, tenderness and stiffness
- pain, stiffness or swelling in the joints
- muscle weakness
- heavier than normal menstrual periods
- brittle fingernails and hair
- puffy face
Treatment may include:
- hormone replacement
- myxedema - advanced hypothyroidism, rare but life-threatening