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Hypothyroidism is caused by reduced levels of Thyroid hormone.  It is a very common condition and it affects women in much greater numbers than men.  Insufficient thyroid hormone has many causes and differential effects on the body, but some features are common to most hypothyroid states.  These common symptoms are all closely related to the primary effect of insufficient thyroid hormone, which is to slow the body functions.

Common Symptoms of Hypothyroidism

  • weight gain
  • fatigue or lethargy
  • decreased sweating
  • puffy face
  • personality changes
  • intolerance to cold
  • constipation
  • dry, thinning hair
  • heavy or irregular menstrual periods
  • reduced fertility
  • depression
  • slowed speech
  • slowed heart rate
  • pain in joints and muscles
  • impaired memory

Women are much more likely than men to develop hypothyroidism. The disease is also more common among people older than age 60. The American Thyroid Association recommends that adults, particularly women, have a blood test to detect thyroid problems every 5 years starting at age 35. Learn more on the Causes and Risk factors page.


Certain factors can increase a person’s chances of developing thyroid disorders. Individuals may need more regular testing if they

  • have had a thyroid problem before, such as goiter or thyroid surgery
  • have a family history of thyroid disease
  • have other autoimmune diseases including Sjögren’s syndrome, pernicious anemia, type 1 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, or lupus
  • have Turner syndrome, a genetic disorder that affects girls and women
  • are older than 60
  • have been pregnant or delivered a baby within the past 6 months
  • have received radiation to the thyroid or to the neck or chest

Getting tested routinely helps uncover thyroid problems—especially subclinical problems. Subclinical means a person has no apparent symptoms. Some doctors treat subclinical hypothyroidism immediately; others prefer to leave it untreated but monitor their patients for signs that the condition is worsening. The good news is that this condition is very treatable: Hypothyroid Treatments


Source:National Endocrine and Metabolic Diseases Information Service