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Putting the pieces together to diagnose hypothyroidism
By Lisa Jones
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Putting the pieces together to diagnose hypothyroidism

Mary had been steadily gaining weight since the birth of her two babies, her hair was dry and frazzled, her hands hurt and her skin was parched and flaky. She had other subtle symptoms she passed off as lack of good rest (although she was sleeping many hours a night) and maybe even depression.

It got to the point where Mary just felt run down and unhealthy; so much so that she began to research her symptoms online. The more she thought about it, the more she knew her symptoms were not “normal” at her relatively young age. One night while doing some research on the Internet, Mary stumbled upon the answer she had been seeking. Maybe she had hypothyroidism.

The next day, Mary called her doctor’s office and set up an appointment. After a check-up and some simple blood work, she had her answer. She IS hypothyroid. The news, albeit alarming, was also a relief because Mary learned there was help available and soon she would be feeling better.

According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (an arm of the National Institutes of Health), hypothyroidism occurs in about 4.6 percent of the U.S. population age 12 and older. It happens when the thyroid gland – which regulates metabolism – doesn’t make enough thyroid hormone to meet the body’s needs. Without enough of this hormone, many of the body’s functions slow down, affecting nearly every organ in the body.

There are many causes of hypothyroidism and your health care provider can help you discover any underlying issues specific to your situation. Although hypothyroidism cannot be cured, it can be successfully regulated in most cases. Treatment normally involves a few lifestyle adjustments and medication to control the disorder and associated symptoms. Regular blood work will be helpful to keep tabs on things and assure the correct medication dosage is being prescribed.

Learn more.

Don’t hesitate to ask your doctor if you are experiencing any of the symptoms listed on this page, as relief can be right around the corner. If you don’t have a doctor, visit and click on the “Find a Clinic” tab in the upper right-hand corner of the webpage.

Possible signs and symptoms of hypothyroidism include:

  • fatigue
  • weight gain
  • a puffy face
  • cold intolerance
  • joint and muscle pain
  • constipation
  • dry skin
  • dry, thinning hair
  • decreased sweating
  • heavy or irregular menstrual
  • periods and impaired fertility
  • depression
  • high blood cholesterol levels
  • slowed heart rate


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