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Healthcare: Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism

Hypothyroidism

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Hypothyroidism occurs when the thyroid gland under-produces hormones, which results in a slowing down of the body’s metabolism.

Hypothyroidism most commonly presents in women over 60. Symptoms of this condition are varied and include exhaustion, weight gain, and constipation, among others. Overall, hypothyroidism can be hard to pinpoint because its symptoms mimic other diseases, such as fibromyalgia and rheumatoid arthritis.

Hypothyroidism is most commonly found in individuals who have undergone surgical removal of the thyroid, have had radioactive iodine treatment, or have a condition known as Hashimoto's Thyroiditis.

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Post-surgical Hypothyroidism

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After surgical removal of the thyroid, patients are given thyroid medication to balance out hormone levels in the body. Finding the right amount of medication can require some tweaking since each patient’s body responds differently. If the patient does not get enough medication, they may experience symptoms of hypothyroidism such as intolerance to cold, weight gain, exhaustion, dry skin brittle nails, or changes in mood.

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Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis

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Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is an autoimmune thyroid disease. The immune system creates antibodies to defend the body against harmful invaders. Autoimmune thyroid disease occurs when an antibody attacks the thyroid, which impacts thyroid function over time.

Individuals may have thyroid antibodies and not require treatment. Around 11% of the population has thyroid antibodies, but only about 4% of people have low thyroid function. Some patients with Hashimoto's disease may require surgery.

Signs and Symptoms of Hashimoto’s thyroiditis include:

  • Dry skin
  • Unexplained weight gain
  • Sensitivity to cold temperature
  • Joint pain
  • Hair loss
  • Weak nails
  • Elevated cholesterol
  • Pain and inflammation in the front of the neck