Low Energy May Be Due To Underactive Thyroid
Published by Contra Costa Times
Posted on Wed., January 20, 2010
By Dr. Oliver Graham
SUPPOSE YOU have previously been very active, but over the prior few months have become increasingly sluggish, constipated and depressed. What might be the cause?
In fact, there could be many possible causes, including depression, side effects of medicine, and a number of diseases. One such disease is an underactive thyroid, otherwise known as hypothyroidism. A blood test can confirm the diagnosis.
The cause of hypothyroidism is usually that the immune system mistakenly attacks the thyroid gland, which is located on the front of the neck, just below both sides of the Adam's apple. Eventually, the attack leads to a loss of healthy thyroid cells causing a drop in the production of thyroid hormones.
This is called Hashimoto's thyroiditis, named after a Japanese doctor who first described the illness.
The thyroid is like the accelerator of a car. When it's underperforming (hypothyroidism), everything in the body slows down, and patients can develop constipation, weight gain, puffy eyes and intolerance to cold temperatures.
When it's overactive (hyperthyroidism), the body speeds up, and a person can develop weight loss, anxiety, rapid heart rate and intolerance to warm temperatures.
Hypothyroidism can affect many parts of the body, and treatment can often lead to normalization of these conditions. These are some ways that an underactive thyroid can affect the body:
The good news is that treatment for hypothyroidism is easy. A thyroid hormone pill, called levothyroxine, taken once per day replaces the hormones that are not being produced naturally.
Bad reactions to the medicine are rare. Therapy is usually for life.
Important things to remember while taking thyroid hormone replacements:
Graham practices internal medicine at Contra Costa Regional Medical Center in Martinez. Healthy Outlook is written by the professional staff of Contra Costa Health Services, the county health department. Send questions to series coordinator Dr. David Pepper at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more health information, go to www.cchealth.org.