Your thyroid is a small, butterfly-shaped gland that is draped across the front of your windpipe. Place your fingers on each side of your Adam’s apple, swallow, and you will feel your thyroid gland sliding under your fingers.
Small as it is, the thyroid gland is extremely important as it controls the growth and metabolism of just about every part of your body.
The functioning of the thyroid gland, in turn, is related to another of your glands, the pituitary, located in the middle of your head. This tiny gland releases a thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) that signals the thyroid to release thyroid hormone.
Sometimes, however, when TSH levels increase the thyroid can’t release more thyroid hormone in response, creating a condition known as primary hypothyroidism.
Symptoms of hypothyroidism
According to the American Thyroid Association, roughly 5% of Americans suffer from an underactive thyroid, making it the most prevalent immune disease in North American.
Hypothyroidism can cause a variety of symptoms. Some of the more common of these include weight gain, fatigue, feeling cold, weakness and aches in muscles and joints, hair loss, depression, trouble concentrating or remembering, digestive upset and irregular and heavy menstrual bleeding.
Dry and itchy skin
This is another very common symptom of hypothyroidism. Skin cells have rapid turnover, and when the thyroid isn’t working properly, they aren’t getting growth signals from the thyroid hormone, meaning it takes longer for skin cells to grow. That, in turn, means that dead skins takes longer to shed, leading to dry flaky skin, often on your feet.
If these skin changes cannot be blamed on allergies, they’re likely due to a thyroid problem.
The good news in all this is that hypothyroidism is generally treatable with inexpensive medications.