What is Hypothyroidism?

Hypothyroidism, also known as an underactive thyroid gland, is a clinical disorder, and it means that the thyroid gland is not generating sufficient thyroid hormones as per the body's requirements. The thyroid gland releases thyroid hormones into the body that control how your body utilizes energy. In the case of hypothyroidism, the body's functions slow down.

The normal thyroid levels are:

  • T3: 100–200 nanograms per deciliter of blood (ng/dL)
  • T4: 4.5 – 11.2 micrograms per deciliter of blood (mcg/dL)
  • TSH: 0.4 – 5.0 milli-international units per liter (mIU/dL)

Hypothyroidism symptoms

Hypothyroidism symptoms vary from one person to another. At first, they are difficult to detect and appear slowly. They can be mistaken as symptoms of depression. The general Signs of hypothyroidism are:

  • Weakness
  • Irritability
  • Depression
  • Sensitivity to cold
  • Dull facial expressions
  • Hoarse voice
  • Slow speech
  • Droopy eyelids
  • Puffy and swollen face
  • Obesity
  • Confusion
  • Constipation
  • Dry, coarse and sparse hair
  • Coarse, dry, and thickened skin
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Slow pulse rate
  • Muscle cramps
  • Sides of eyebrows thin or fall out
Hypothyroidism Symptoms

Hypothyroidism symptoms in females

Women are more prone to having a thyroid disease than men. Hypothyroidism symptoms in females are as follows:

Menstrual problems:

  • It includes very light, heavy, or irregular periods. Thyroid disorders can also stop your periods for many months or longer. This is a condition called amenorrhea.
  • When thyroid problems affect the menstrual cycle in a woman, it also disturbs ovulation, thus making it difficult to get pregnant.
  • Hypothyroidism during pregnancy can affect both the mother and the unborn baby.
  • In a few cases, symptoms of thyroid disease are mistaken for menopause symptoms. Hypothyroidism is more likely to develop after menopause.

Hypothyroidism Causes

Hypothyroidism occurs when the thyroid gland fails to produce adequate hormones. Hypothyroidism can be caused by the following conditions or problems:

  • Autoimmune diseases: In rare situations, our body's immune system can mistake thyroid gland cells and their enzymes as foreign invaders and target them. As a result, there aren’t enough thyroid cells and enzymes left to produce adequate thyroid hormones. This condition is more frequent in females than in males. The most common forms of autoimmune thyroiditis are Hashimoto’s thyroiditis and atrophic thyroiditis.
  • Thyroidectomy: Some people with goiter, thyroid cancer, thyroid nodules, or Graves’ disease need to undergo thyroidectomy. If the thyroid gland is completely removed, people will surely become hypothyroid. If only a partial gland is removed, the thyroid gland can make adequate thyroid hormone to keep the blood levels normal.
Causes of Hypothyroidism
  • Radiotherapy: Some cancer patients need to undergo radiotherapy involving the head and neck. This cancer treatment can affect the functioning of the thyroid gland, causing hypothyroidism.
  • Congenital hypothyroidism (CHT): It occurs when the thyroid gland fails to develop or function effectively. A few newborn babies are born without a thyroid gland or a partly formed one and some have ectopic thyroid.
  • Thyroiditis: Thyroiditis is the thyroid gland's inflammation. It occurs due to an autoimmune attack or a viral infection.

Risks factors of hypothyroidism

The risk factors involved are -

  • Being a woman
  • Diabetes
  • Obesity
  • Thyroid surgery (thyroidectomy)
  • Intake of certain medications
  • Autoimmune disease
  • Hereditary
  • Old age


The correct hypothyroidism test involves the following conditions

  • Medical history: If you have had any thyroid surgery or thyroid treatment, this may have an impact on the functional ability of your thyroid gland
  • Physical examination: The thyroid specialists will examine your thyroid gland and look for hypothyroidism symptoms such as dry skin and hair, hoarse voice, droopy eyelids, swollen face or a slower heart rate.
  • Blood tests (thyroid function test, TFTs), including:
    • TSH (thyroid-stimulating hormone) test
    • T4 tests
  • Imaging tests: Thyroid scan, radioactive iodine uptake test, or ultrasound scan.

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Frequently Asked Questions

1. How long can hypothyroidism last?

Hypothyroidism is a chronic condition that typically requires ongoing treatment. Once diagnosed, it can be managed effectively with medication, and most individuals will need to take thyroid hormone replacement therapy for the rest of their lives.

2. What organs are affected by hypothyroidism?

Hypothyroidism affects various organs and systems in the body. The most notable impacts are on the thyroid gland itself, as it fails to produce enough thyroid hormones. However, the condition can also affect the heart, brain, skin, metabolism, and other organs, leading to symptoms such as fatigue, weight gain, and cognitive issues.

3. Can I live a normal life with hypothyroidism?

Yes, individuals with hypothyroidism can live normal and fulfilling lives with proper medical management. Once diagnosed and receiving appropriate treatment, most people experience a significant improvement in symptoms and can maintain their overall health and well-being.

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