Last week’s blog was about hyperthyroidism. Naturally, hypothyroidism or low thyroid also occurs. With low thyroid the Energizer Bunny seems to have take a vacation. The body’s metabolism slows and with that downturn everything chills.

What this means is that you may feel tired, have a slow heart rate, suffer from constipation, have swelling in your legs and also experience the dreaded weight gain. No, your weight  in this case is probably not just from that triple scoop chocolate sundae you’ve been scarfing down weekly but also from a shortage of thyroid.

What can cause low thyroid? Well, as I mentioned in the last blog. hyperthyroidism tends to burn out the thyroid gland. This of course leads to low thyroid. Certain medications can depress thyroid function as can cancers, malnutrition and radiation therapy. An enlarged thyroid gland seen in goiters may or may not produce adequate quantities of thyroid hormone. Up in your brain the hypothalamus and pituitary glands regulate the thyroid gland (among other glands). If one or both of these glands are working well, then hypothyroidism can result.

Treating hypothyroidism involves first finding the cause and then prescribing thyroid hormone. The correct amount of hormone will often vary from person to person. In fact, it is not uncommon to see patients become hyperthyroid (elevated thyroid) from taking thyroid replacement. It is therefore important that everyone , who is taking thyroid hormone, have their thyroid levels checked periodically.

Rarely an extremely low level of thyroid can cause heart failure, because the heart like every other organ needs energy and with low thyroid, there’s just not a lot of that to go around. The brain too can be slowed enough to cause confusion and even coma.

If you happen to be suffering from any of the above symptoms, you should see your doctor, who can make the diagnosis.