Your thyroid gland is the butterfly-shaped gland at the base of your neck that secretes two all-important hormones that control major bodily functions (including how you use energy, regulate body temperature, and digest food) and organs (including the heart, brain, liver, kidneys and skin). But with hypothyroidism, your body can have normal to low thyroxine hormone levels and elevated thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) levels. These high TSH levels are a result of an overworked pituitary gland that is trying to elevate the hormone levels in an inadequately responsive thyroid.
Hypothyroidism is more common than you would believe, and millions of people are currently hypothyroid and don’t know it. Because early symptoms of the disease are diverse and mimic the symptoms of everyday life, millions of cases of thyroid disease remain undiagnosed or are mistaken for other disorders. Estimates vary, but approximately 10 million Americans have this common medical condition.
Many things can put you at risk for a sluggish thyroid, from genetic predispositions to an autoimmune disorder called Hashimoto’s thyroiditis (a condition that occurs in 80 percent of those with hypothyroidism in which the immune system attacks the thyroid). Fortunately, thyroid screening is a simple blood test, and thyroid trouble can often be fixed with the right prescription. If you have one of the following signs, speak with your doctor!