The thyroid is a gland in the front portion of your neck which generates a hormone that helps your body produce energy. Approximately 10% of adults will develop an underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism) some time during their life. The risk of hypothyroidism is increased during and shortly after pregnancy, and also as one ages. The most common type of hypothyroidism is from an autoimmune cause, which is where the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks the thyroid gland (Hashimoto’s thyroiditis). This condition is more common in patients who have other autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and diabetes mellitus.
Symptoms of hypothyroidism include:
- Weight gain
- Dry skin
- Low body temperature
A patient does not need to have all of these symptoms to have this disease, and many other conditions can mimic hypothyroidism. Diagnosis is usually made by blood studies which test the level of thyroid hormone in a patient’s blood stream. An ultrasound and/or nuclear study is sometimes ordered if a thyroid mass is suspected, and if present, a biopsy may be performed. Treatment for hypothyroidism is generally through thyroid replacement medication, and blood levels are typically followed to make sure the prescribed dose is adequate.
If you are experiencing any of the above symptoms and are unsure if you may have hypothyroidism, contact our office to set up an appointment to discuss further. If you are not a member of North Idaho Direct Primary Care and are interested in learning more, you can click here to read further about our practice and the benefits of membership. You can also click here to sign up for our monthly newsletter if you found this article helpful.