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Our ENT specialist, Dr Jon Hughes, is knowledgeable and experienced in a variety of ear, nose and throat concerns. Today, we’re focusing on hypothyroidism, which affects the thyroid gland. Find out what it is, how to know if you have it and how to successfully treat it in today’s article.

What is hypothyroidism?

It’s simply a case of your thyroid under-producing essential hormones. Many conditions are associated with hypothyroidism, from infertility to joint pain, heart disease and obesity.

How do you know you have it?

There are lots of symptoms, but not everyone has them all. And, in some cases, you might not realise that your symptoms point to hypothyroidism. It can take many years for them to develop or to pinpoint the concern. Some signs and symptoms include:

  •  Tiredness and fatigue
  •  Weight gain or puffy face
  •  Constipation (hard stools that are difficult to pass)
  •  Dry skin
  •  Aches, weakness and stiffness in the muscles and joints
  •  Thinning hair
  •  Raised cholesterol (a fatty substance found in your blood) and slower heart rate
  •  Depression
  •  Heavy and/or irregular periods
  •  Enlarged or ‘’swollen’’ thyroid
  •  Problems with memory
  • Hoarseness of the throat

What causes hypothyroidism?

Causes range from medical problems such as autoimmune disease, radiation therapy for cancer, thyroid surgery and medication. Other factors can include iodine deficiency, pregnancy and underdeveloped thyroid.

Who can get hypothyroidism?

As well as the factors we’ve already outlined, women – especially those over 60 and those who have been recently pregnant (in the last 6 months) – can be particularly susceptible to the condition.

What happens if hypothyroidism isn’t treated?

Heart problems, goitre (an enlarged thyroid – which in turn affects swallowing and breathing), mental health problems and tingling and numbness in the body (peripheral neuropathy) can all develop. Infertility can also occur due to low levels of thyroid hormone, or birth defects if a baby is born.

How can hypothyroidism be treated?

Taking a synthetic thyroid hormone can restore levels of the hormone, and could reverse symptoms (for instance, weight gain). In cases of an enlarged thyroid, surgery may be an option. This would require daily medication to replicate the function of the thyroid.

What’s my next step?

If you’re interested in hypothyroidism treatment or simply want more information, speak to Dr Jon. We can arrange a consultation in London at our clinic; simply visit our website for the details.