What is hypothyroidism?

Hypothyroidism, also called underactive thyroid, is when the thyroid gland doesn’t make enough thyroid hormones to meet your body’s needs. Thyroid hormones control the way the body uses energy, so they affect nearly every organ in your body, even the way your heart beats.

The thyroid is a small gland in your neck that makes thyroid hormones.

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How common is hypothyroidism?

Based on available literature and published research data, prevalence of hypothyroidism is around 11% in India. It is higher than prevalence in UK and USA.

What are the symptoms of hypothyroidism?

Hypothyroidism has many symptoms that can vary from person to person. Some common symptoms of hypothyroidism include

  • fatigue
  • weight gain
  • a puffiness over face
  • joint and muscle pain
  • constipation
  • dry skin / thinning hair/ hair fall
  • decreased sweating
  • heavy or irregular menstrual periods /fertility problems
  • depression
  • slowed heart rate
  • goiter/ Neck swelling

Because hypothyroidism develops slowly, many people don’t notice symptoms of the disease for months or even years.

How to diagnose hypothyroidism?

Your doctor will take a medical history, do clinical examination and ask for some diagnostic tests (e.g. Thyroid Function Tests) to confirm a diagnosis of hypothyroidism. Many symptoms of hypothyroidism are the same as those of other diseases, so it is difficult to diagnose thyroid disease based on medical history/symptoms alone.

Because hypothyroidism can cause fertility problems, women who have trouble getting pregnant often get tested for thyroid problems.

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