You have hypothyroidism. This means your thyroid gland is not making enough thyroid hormone. This hormone is vital to body growth and metabolism. If you don’t make enough, many body processes slow down. This can cause symptoms throughout the body. Hypothyroidism can range from mild to severe. The most severe form is called myxedema.
There are a number of causes of hypothyroidism. A common cause is Hashimoto’s disease. This disease causes the body’s own immune system to attack the thyroid gland. When you have certain treatments, such as surgery to remove the thyroid gland, this can also cause hypothyroidism.
Symptoms of hypothyroidism can include:
Trouble concentrating or thinking clearly; forgetfulness
Low tolerance to cold
Tingling or prickling of the hands or feet
Heavy, absent, or irregular periods (women only)
Older adults may sometimes have other symptoms. These can include:
Muscle aches and weakness
Incontinence (unable to control urine or stool)
Trouble moving around
Treatment for hypothyroidism involves taking thyroid hormone pills daily. These pills replace the hormone your thyroid doesn’t make. You will likely need to take a daily pill for the rest of your life. Tips for taking this medicine are given below.
Take your thyroid hormone pills as prescribed by your healthcare provider. This is most often 1 pill a day on an empty stomach. Use a pillbox labeled with the days of the week. This will help you remember to take your pill each day.
Don’t take products that contain iron and calcium or antacids within 4 hours of taking your thyroid hormone pills.
Don’t take other medicines with your thyroid hormone pill without checking with your provider first.
Tell your provider if you have any side effects from your medicines that bother you.
Never change the dosage or stop taking your thyroid pills without talking to your provider first.
Always talk with your provider before trying other medicines or treatments for your thyroid problem.
If you see other healthcare providers, be sure to let them know about your thyroid problem.
See your healthcare provider for checkups as advised. You may need regular tests to check the level of thyroid hormone in your blood.
Call your healthcare provider right away if any of these occur:
New symptoms develop
Symptoms return, continue, or worsen even after treatment
Puffy hands, face, or feet
Fast or irregular heartbeat
Call 911 right away if any of these occur:
Shortness of breath or trouble breathing
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