The symptoms of hypothyroidism include feeling tired and lethargic, weight gain, dry skin and brittle hair, becoming forgetful and sometimes depressed, feeling cold and enduring constipation as well as menstrual irregularities in women.
A home thyroid test kit allows you to test for the underactive thyroid hormone (also known as hypothyroidism) by using just a finger prick of human blood.
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The thyroid can be found in the front of your neck just below the Adam’s apple and is a small butterfly shaped gland where hormones are produced and released into the bloodstream.
The thyroid hormones are very important as they control the rate at which the body uses and stores energy from the food we eat (the metabolic rate).
What causes thyroid problems?
Thyroid problems can result from either of the following causes:
What causes hypothyroidism (under-active thyroid)?
In babies it is not known what causes hypothyroidism. In older children and adults the most common cause of hypothyroidism is due to the autoimmune disease, called Hashimoto’s disease, which tends to run in families. An autoimmune disease occurs when the immune system, which normally produces antibodies to attack foreign substances (like viruses and other bugs), starts producing antibodies which attack part(s) of the body. In people with hypothyroidism the immune system attacks the thyroid cells as if they were foreign substances.
Other possible causes may include complications from previous thyroid surgery, treatment for previous hyperthyroidism or certain medications, please see our health information page for more information.
What are the symptoms of hypothyroidism (under-active thyroid)?
In hypothyroidism the thyroid is under-active and so the rate of metabolism slows down. As hypothyroidism usually develops slowly you may have no symptoms until the condition is well advanced. The symptoms you may have might be blamed on old age and can vary in severity but as your metabolism continues to slow, the symptoms should become more obvious. The symptoms may include any of the following:
Later symptoms may include constipation, dry, pale skin and dry hair, which may be brittle and break easier.
How are thyroid problems diagnosed?
Your doctor may be able to make a diagnosis from your history, symptoms and an examination, though a blood test should be carried out to confirm the diagnosis. The blood tests will check the levels of TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone), T3 and T4 in the blood. These tests are known as thyroid function tests. If the blood tests show levels of TSH are raised then the thyroid gland is under-active, this is because TSH levels rise to try to manufacture more T3 and T4. The same is true in reverse, if the thyroid is overactive and producing above normal levels of T3 and T4 then less TSH is produced.
If inflammation of the thyroid gland is suspected, an ultrasound scan of the gland may also be taken.
What is the treatment for hyperthyroidism (under-active thyroid)?
If your doctor diagnoses you with hyperthyroidism, the treatment you receive will depend on your age, physical condition and the severity of the condition and may include one of the following:
For a more detailed explanation about the thyroid gland and why you can have an under or over active thyroid gland please click here.
For full instructions on how to use these tests click a link below
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