The thyroid makes hormones that control metabolism. Hypothyroidism occurs when too few hormones are produced due to decreased thyroid gland activity. The condition often goes undetected; estimates, though, put the number of people affected as high as 40% of the U.S. adult population.
Symptoms are numerous and can include chronic fatigue, feeling cold all the time, inability to lose weight and skin conditions such as acne and eczema. In addition, there can be psychological components of the condition, particularly chronic depression, anxiety and panic as well as poor concentration and poor short-term memory.
Sexual complications can sometimes include low sex drive, impotence and infertility (especially low sperm count). Chronic constipation, hair loss, heart palpitations, brittle nails, muscle weakness, and muscle and joint pain are additional symptoms. Women often experience menstrual problems, such as excessive bleeding, painful syndrome and very late or very early onset of menses.
Also, an increase in age-related and immunodeficiency disease such as arthritis, cancer and heart disease, is associated with populations that are low in thyroid hormone.
When thyroid hormone levels are low, the body doesn't produce enough heat, so the extremities tend to be cold. Cold fingers, cold toes, and a cold tip of the nose are common indicators that not enough heat is being produced. In general, being colder than other people can be an indicator that your thyroid output is insufficient.
Conventional treatment for this hypothyroidism is often times clouded by misdiagnosis and by incomplete testing. This is because there is such a wide variety of symptoms, other diseases are often blamed, and the thyroid condition goes undiagnosed.