The symptoms of hypothyroidism include weight gain, fatigue, sensitivity to cold, dry skin and constipation, according to Mayo Clinic. Other symptoms include hoarseness, muscle weakness, puffy face, elevated levels of blood cholesterol, and stiffness or tenderness in the muscles. Additionally, hypothyroidism may cause joint pain, impaired memory and depression.
Hypothyroidism is caused by a deficiency in the production of the thyroid hormones, explains Mayo Clinic. The condition generally develops slowly over the years, and its symptoms may not be noticeable at first, until slow metabolism makes it more apparent. Untreated hypothyroidism gradually worsens and can become severe. The constant stimulation of the thyroid gland in an attempt to release needed hormones can result in the development of goiter, which is an enlarged thyroid gland. Over time, untreated hypothyroidism can lead to depression, forgetfulness and slow thought processes.
General treatment for hypothyroidism involves the replacement of thyroid hormones with synthetic thyroid hormones, according to Mayo Clinic. Synthroid or Levothroid are popular replacements that contain levothyroxine, which is a synthetic replacement. It can take a few months to determine the proper dosage of medication for treating hypothyroidism. Thyroid levels are checked regularly during treatment to determine the effectiveness of replacement therapy. Most people with hypothyroidism must take the medication to replace the missing hormone for the rest of their lives.