Thumbnail image of: Thyroid and Parathyroid Glands: Illustration

Hypothyroidism (Low Thyroid Level): Brief Version

What is hypothyroidism?

You have hypothyroidism when your thyroid gland does not make enough thyroid hormone. Your thyroid gland is in the lower front of your neck. Thyroid hormones are chemicals that control the way your body turns the food you eat into energy. They also control body functions like temperature, heart rate, and appetite.

What are the symptoms?

Your symptoms may slowly get worse over time. You may:

  • Feel tired
  • Be depressed
  • Feel weak
  • Be constipated
  • Gain weight
  • Feel cold a lot of the time when everyone else is warm

You may also have:

  • Swollen eyelids
  • Slow heart rate
  • Coarse, dry hair or brittle nails
  • Thick, dry skin
  • Heavy and long menstrual periods

How is it treated?

Your healthcare provider will prescribe medicine to take the place of the thyroid hormone your body is not making. After you take the hormone pills for about a week, you will feel better. You will likely need to take your pills every day for the rest of your life.

How can I take care of myself?

Follow your healthcare provider’s advice. Don’t stop taking your medicine or change the way you take it unless your provider tells you to.

You will need to have blood tests to check your thyroid hormone level for the rest of your life. The tests can help make sure you are getting the right amount of medicine.

Ask your healthcare provider:

  • How long it will take to get better
  • What things you should avoid
  • How to take care of yourself at home
  • What problems you should watch for and what to do if you have them

Make sure you know when you should come back for a checkup.

Developed by RelayHealth.
Adult Advisor 2015.1 published by RelayHealth.
Last modified: 2015-01-28
Last reviewed: 2015-01-28
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
Copyright ©1986-2015 McKesson Corporation and/or one of its subsidiaries. All rights reserved.

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