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Ask the Medical Expert Archives 2000-2004

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March 2000

Q. I have been feeling fatigued, gaining weight and more easily chilled. My doctor did some blood tests and told me I have an under active thyroid. Is this anything serious?

A. Hypothyroidism is a common disorder in which the thyroid gland (located around the front lower part of the neck) does not produce adequate thyroid hormone. This results in inadequate metabolism and the body's cells in simplified terms, slows down. Hence fatigue, constipation, feeling cold, weight gain, depression, and decreased reflexes are common symptoms. The cause of hypothyroidism is usually due to the body producing autoantibodies that attack one's own thyroid gland. It is more common in diabetics, certain anemias and other autoimmune diseases. Fortunately, hypothyroidism is not considered a serious disease and in fact is quite easily treated with synthetic thyroid hormone replacement such as Synthroid or Levoxyl that is usually taken as one pill each day. Periodic blood tests are necessary to adjust the dose to your body's needs. Once corrected, you should feel back to normal.

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