What is hypothyroidism?

Your thyroid is a gland in your neck that makes a hormone called the thyroid hormone. Thyroid hormones affect different parts of your health. They can raise or lower your heart rate, speed up or slow down your metabolism (how fast your body uses energy) and affect your body temperature. When your thyroid doesn't make enough thyroid hormones, you have a condition called hypothyroidism.

Women and people older than 60 are more likely to have hypothyroidism. You may also be at a higher risk if you have a family history of thyroid problems.

Most of the time hypothyroidism is caused by an autoimmune disorder, which happens when your body's immune system attacks your own cells. Thyroid surgery or other thyroid treatments, like radiation therapy, can also cause hypothyroidism.

What are the symptoms of hypothyroidism?

Symptoms can be hard to spot since they're different in every person and are similar to symptoms of depression. You may notice the following symptoms start slowly:

  • Fatigue
  • Hoarseness
  • Weight gain (due to a slower metabolism)
  • A swollen-looking face or droopy eyelids
  • Dry hair
  • Changes in your period
  • Slow heart rate
  • Constipation


Endocrinology and Metabolism

When hormones are out of balance, you can experience a wide range of problems. Main Line Health endocrinologists can help assess your needs and provide care for any endocrinology and metabolism conditions.