The Healthy Nook - UAF Student Health & Counseling

The University of Alaska Fairbanks Student Health and Counseling Center provides medical and counseling services to the UAF campus students. Our articles are written by staff members and are to help keep students informed about good physical, mental and emotional health.

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Say Ahh Hypothyroidism by Donna Patrick, ANP

Say Ahh   Hypothyroidism


Q: What is hypothyroidism?

A: Hypothyroidism is the medical term for when a person does not make enough thyroid hormone.  It is a condition that makes you feel tired. The thyroid gland in your neck makes thyroid hormone. This hormone controls how the body uses and stores energy.

Q: What are the symptoms of hypothyroidism?

A: Some people with hypothyroidism have no symptoms. But most people feel tired. That can make the condition hard to diagnose, because a lot of conditions can make you tired.

Other symptoms of hypothyroidism include:

  • Lack of energy
  • Getting cold easily
  • Developing coarse or thin hair
  • Getting constipated (having too few bowel movements)
  • Menstrual irregularities in women

If it is not treated, hypothyroidism can also weaken and slow your heart. This can make you feel out of breath or tired when you exercise and cause swelling (fluid buildup) in your ankles. Untreated hypothyroidism can also increase your blood pressure and raise your cholesterol—both of which increase the risk of heart trouble.

Q: Is there a test for hypothyroidism?

A: Yes. Your health care provider can test you for hypothyroidism using a simple blood test.

Q: How is hypothyroidism treated?

A: Treatment for hypothyroidism involves taking thyroid hormone pills every day. After you take the pills for about 6 weeks, your blood will be retested to make sure the levels are where they should be. The dosage may need to be adjusted depending on the results. Most people with hypothyroidism need to be on thyroid pills for the rest of their life.

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