What Are The Thyroid Glands?

The thyroid is the butterfly-shaped gland located at the base of the neck, just below the Adam’s Apple. The gland produces hormones that affect the metabolism. The thyroid is extremely important, maintaining the body’s heart, temperature, protein production, and usage of fats and carbohydrates. Problems with one’s thyroid can result in thyroid disease, which is an umbrella term for any complication caused by the thyroid.

Here, we go over one of the most common thyroid problems: underactive thyroids.

Symptoms

Also called Hypothyroidism, an underactive thyroid occurs when the thyroid produces less hormones than usual. This can be caused by a number of pre-existing conditions, like autoimmune disease, medications, treatments such as radiation therapy, and prior thyroid surgery.

According to the Mayo Clinic, symptoms can 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

Hypothyroidism symptoms can start slowly, and can go unnoticed at first. It is important to visit a doctor as soon as you start experiencing multiple symptoms. The longer an underactive thyroid goes untreated, the more severe the symptoms become. When left untreated, underactive thyroids can lead to: goiters, heart problems, depression,  peripheral neuropathy, and other life-threatening health issues. Underactive thyroids can only be diagnosed and treated by professionals.

People who are at the highest risk of developing hypothyroidism are women over 60, people with autoimmune disease, those with a family history of thyroid disease, those who received radiation therapy, and those who have received thyroid surgery.