Your thyroid gland produces hormones that help control how your body uses energy; for example, how quickly you digest food or burn calories. When your thyroid hormone levels are lower than they should be, you have a thyroid disorder called hypothyroidism (hypo means under or below).

Mercy physicians are experts in diagnosing and treating hypothyroidism and other thyroid disorders. We’ll get to the cause of your underactive thyroid and determine the best treatment.

Causes of Hypothyroidism

The most common cause of hypothyroidism in the United States is Hashimoto's disease. This autoimmune disorder results in the body’s immune system attacking its own thyroid tissue, which disrupts thyroid hormone production.

Other, less common hypothyroidism causes include:

  • Low iodine levels in the diet (uncommon in the U.S.)
  • Surgical removal of the thyroid
  • Thyroid radiation treatments
  • Viral infections

Symptoms of Hypothyroidism

When your thyroid hormone level is low, your whole body can feel the effects. Hypothyroidism symptoms tend to develop slowly over time, so you might not be aware of them right away. The most common symptoms include:

  • Feeling unusually tired or weak
  • Depression
  • Dry skin and brittle nails
  • Feeling cold most of the time
  • Constipation
  • “Foggy” thinking or problems with memory or concentration
  • Heavy or prolonged menstrual periods

If you experience some of these symptoms and they seem to be getting worse over time, make an appointment with your doctor. A simple blood test can measure your thyroid hormone levels.

Treatment for Hypothyroidism

If your thyroid hormone levels are low, your Mercy physician will likely prescribe thyroid hormone This is a pill that you take daily. In most cases, you will need to take it for the rest of your life. Your doctor will monitor your hormone levels with blood tests to ensure you’re taking the right amount of medication.

Most people with an under active thyroid feel better with medication. If you need additional care, we’ll refer you to a Mercy endocrinologist who specializes in thyroid disorders. Together, we’ll get your thyroid hormones back on track.

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