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Hypothyroidism

The Thyroid Gland

Hypothyroidism is an underproduction of hormones by the thyroid gland. The thyroid regulates body temperature by creating two hormones that control how fast the body burns calories and uses energy. The ailment can range from very minor to life-threatening. Some doctors believe that many allergies are actually due to disorders of the thyroid.

Symptoms

Symptoms of hypothyroidism may include lethargy, headaches, depression, low body temperature, decreased libido and an unusual sensitivity to cold. You may also have difficulty losing weight, dry skin, slow reflexes, goiter, recurrent infections and painful menstrual periods.

Causes

Hypothyroidism is caused by a lack of iodine, the health of the thyroid itself and the amount of thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) that is circulating in the body. Since TSH is produced by the pituitary gland, problems in that gland may also affect the thyroid. It can also be caused by Hashimoto's disease, thyroiditis, as a consequence of treatment, thyroid surgery, pituitary or hypothalamic disease, radiation therapy, or medications like lithium.

Cautions

Thyroid problems need to be diagnosed medically. Since they can escalate if left untreated, it is very important to be seen if you have any of the symptoms of thyroid deficiency. A simple blood test is all that is needed to determine hypothyroidism, but it won't tell you the cause.

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