• Question: what happens if your thyroid gland is underactive

    Asked by ikra to Indi, Jarv, John, Ken, Vicky on 19 Mar 2012.
    • Photo: John Prytherch

      John Prytherch answered on 19 Mar 2012:

      A friend of mine has an underactive thyroid, she has to take regular medicine, but otherwise isn’t too badly affected. If she doesn’t take the medicine she can get very tired. I’m not sure of the reasons (the thyroid does something to control the release of hormones in your body I think) but it looks like there’s a lot of information here:

    • Photo: Vicky Young

      Vicky Young answered on 19 Mar 2012:

      An under-active thyroid is called hypothyroidism and happens when the thyroid gland does not make enough thyroid hormone. We think about 8% of people over 50 have an under-active thyroid but it can happen to anyone. Its easily treated by giving the person thyroid hormone and there is no major side effects from this.

      There are lots of symptoms of an under-active thyroid but not everyone gets the same symptoms. Common ones are:

      Feeling cold all the time
      Gain in weight
      Feeling tired a lot of the time
      Decreased sweating
      Muscle cramps and joint pain
      Dry, itchy skin
      Abnormal menstrual cycles

      If you have any of these symptoms they go away when you are treated with the thyroid hormone.

      I was teaching this earlier today – so awesome time for the question (:

    • Photo: Ken Dutton-Regester

      Ken Dutton-Regester answered on 20 Mar 2012:

      Also, my friend does a bit of research on the role of thyroid, in particular, in regards to pregnancy. Did you know that if a pregant mother has hypothyroidism it can affect the IQ of the baby? Basically, mothers with hypothyroidism are 4 times more likely to have a baby with a lower IQ score. From what I remember of my friends lecture- one of the key factors that result in hypothyroidism in mothers is lack of iodine. This is why haveing a good diet and using dietary supplements can improve the health of a baby.