Hypothyroidism: Meaning, Diagnosis and Overview

What is Hypothyroidism?

Thyroid is a small butterfly shaped gland which rests at the base of the neck above the collarbone. Its function is to control body’s metabolism by releasing two hormones THYROXINE (T4) and TRIIDOTHYRONINE (T3). If the thyroid gland is not active enough, it is called hypothyroidism. It is common in women. 
Thyroid gland

Recovery Time

Thyroid hormone pills are prescribed to treat hypothyroidism. Most people start to feel better within a week or two. Symptoms will probably go away within a few months. But the pills should be taken as suggested by the doctor.


Diagnosis is based on the physical examination of the neck and symptoms like brittle nails, coarse features of the face, pale or dry skin, which may be cool to the touch, swelling of the arms and legs, thin and brittle hair
Tests to determine thyroid function include:
  • TSH test
  • T4 test
  • Thyroid autoantibody test
  • Thyroid scan

FAQs prepared by doctor

Q1.  What is hypothyroidism?
Hypothyroidism is a medical condition in which there are decreased circulating levels of thyroid hormones in the blood. The cause of hypothyroidism is multifactorial. This condition may or may not be associated with enlargement of gland depending on the cause.

Q2.  How do I get hypothyroidism?
You get hypothyroidism if there is severe dietary deficiency of iodine in your diet.
You can also get hypothyroidism if you are genetically predisposed or if there is destruction of thyroid gland due to viral infection.

Q3.  What is the treatment for hypothyroidism?
The treatment is simple replacement with levothyroxine. The dosage is titrated depending on the Tsh levels. In case of iodine deficiency, sufficient Iodine  intake as per RDA (recommended daily allowance) in food, will resolve hypothyroidism.

Q4.  How long does it take to cure?
Once you are hypothyroid, you will have to take the medicines for life. The dosage may be altered depending on the Tsh levels.

Q5.  How do I prevent hypothyroidism?
You can prevent hypothyroidism due to iodine deficiency by using Iodized salt. Avoid excessive intake of cabbage and cauliflower (goitrogens) which interfere with iodine uptake of thyroid gland.

Q6.  Are there any complications of hypothyroidism?
Hypothyroidism if not treated leads to weight gain, hoarsness of voice, lethargy, constipation. In severe cases it causes Myxedema. If a pregnant woman is hypothyroid it leads to decreased mental and physical development of child. This condition is called Cretinism.

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