Hypothyroidism is the scientific name for an underactive thyroid. Your thyroid is a small gland in your neck and it helps to regulate your metabolism. Some of the symptoms of hypothyroidism include feeling tired frequently, cold hands, dry skin, and weight gain.
To diagnose hypothyroidism your doctor will make you take a blood test and will look for the levels of thyroxine and TSH, which is a hormone released in your brain that stimulates your thyroid. A low level of thyroxine and high levels of TSH is what gets you a diagnosis.
If you find yourself diagnosed with an underactive thyroid your doctor will put you on a medication that gives your body synthetic thyroxine, that way you can balance your body back to normal. This medication is not instant, and normally it takes a couple of weeks for your body to start feeling the benefits that it provides.
If you leave your underactive thyroid untreated you increase your risk for heart disease because low levels of thyroxine can lead to high levels of bad cholesterol. Another problem that may occur is swelling in your neck. An underactive thyroid may increase in size to the point where it is visible.