Thyroid Disease

The thyroid makes and produces hormones that play a role in many different systems throughout your body. When your thyroid makes too much or too little of these important hormones, it's called thyroid disease. There are several different types of thyroid disease, including hyperthyroidism, hypothyroidism, thyroiditis, and Hashimoto's thyroiditis.

What Is Thyroid?

The thyroid gland is a small organ located in the front of the neck, wrapped around the trachea (trachea). It is shaped like a butterfly, smaller in the middle, with two broad wings that wrap around your neck. Thyroid is a gland. There are glands throughout your body, where they make and release substances that help your body perform a specific function. Your thyroid makes hormones that helps to control many important functions of your body.

When your thyroid doesn't work properly, it can affect your entire body. If your body makes too much thyroid hormone, you can develop a condition called hyperthyroidism. If your body makes too little thyroid hormone, it is called hypothyroidism. Both conditions are serious and require treatment by your family doctor.


Signs and symptoms of hypothyroidism vary depending on the severity of the hormone deficiency. Problems develop slowly, often over many years.

At first, you may hardly notice symptoms of hypothyroidism, such as fatigue and weight gain. Or you can just give them credit for growing up. But as your metabolism slows, you may have more obvious problems.

Hypothyroidism signs and symptoms may include:

  • Fatigue
  • Increased sensitivity to cold
  • Constipation
  • Dry skin
  • Weight gain
  • Puffy face
  • Hoarseness
  • Muscle weakness
  • Elevated blood cholesterol level
  • Muscle aches, tenderness and stiffness
  • Pain, stiffness or swelling in your joints
  • Heavier than normal or irregular menstrual periods
  • Thinning hair
  • Slowed heart rate
  • Depression
  • Impaired memory
  • Enlarged thyroid gland (goiter)

Hypothyroidism In Children And Teens

In general, children and teens who develop hypothyroidism have the same signs and symptoms as adults do, but they may also experience:

  • Poor growth, resulting in short stature
  • Delayed development of permanent teeth
  • Delayed puberty
  • Poor mental development

When To See A Doctor?

If you're feeling tired for no reason or have any other signs or symptoms of hypothyroidism, such as dry skin, pale, flushed face, constipation, or a hoarse voice, see your doctor.

If you are receiving hormone therapy for hypothyroidism, schedule follow-up visits as often as your doctor recommends. Initially, it is important to make sure that you are getting the correct dose of medicine. And over time, the dose you need may change.

Risk Factors

Althugh anyone can develop hypothyroidism, you are also at an increased risk if you:

  • Are a woman
  • Are older than 60
  • Have a family history of thyroid disease
  • Have an autoimmune disease, such as type 1 diabetes or celiac disease
  • Have been treated with radioactive iodine or anti-thyroid medications
  • Received radiation to your neck or upper chest
  • Have had thyroid surgery (partial thyroidectomy)
  • Have been pregnant or delivered a baby within the past six months

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