This article will be discussing the causes, symptoms, complications and treatment of hypothyroidism. Before we jump into that though, lets take a look at what hypothyroidism is first. Once we understand the problems that arise from hypothyroidism, then we can delve deeper into the solutions.
What is hypothyroidism?
Hypothyroidism, also known as an under active thyroid disease is a common health issue that is caused mainly by a disorder the thyroid gland. This disorder is identified due to low production of thyroid hormones by the thyroid gland. The thyroid gland is located in the lower part of the front of your neck. This gland releases hormones that affect almost every part of our bodies from our brain, heart, skin and muscles. The thyroid hormones affect so much of our body as they travel through our blood. The thyroid controls the usage of energy derived from the food we eat. This is done through metabolic procedures by the cells of our body. Our metabolism affects various things in our bodies. These include our heartbeat, body temperature and the way our body burns calories. The entire process will slow down if our bodies do not have enough thyroid hormone. This is how hypothyroidism slows down our metabolism. This in effect reduces the production of energy by our bodies.
Causes of Hypothyroidism
Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis is considered the most common cause of hypothyroidism. With Hashimoto’s it is commonly an inflammation of the thyroid gland. Hypothyroidism is an autoimmune disorder. What this means is that antibodies produced by your body attack the thyroid gland and destroy it. In other cases of hpyothyroidism, a viral infection can also be a cause. Other possible reasons of primary hypothyroidism may include:
- Radioactive iodine treatment: Normally this treatment is prescribed to people having hyperthyroidism or an overactive thyroid gland. This radiation destroys the thyroid gland cells and cause hypothyroidism.
- Radiation therapy of the neck area: This therapy can be prescribed to treat certain cancers like lymphoma. Thyroid cells are damaged through this radiation that makes it difficult for the gland to produce thyroid hormone.
- Thyroid surgery: It the thyroid is removed due to certain surgery then it can end up in hypothyroidism. The remaining gland can produce hormone required by your body if only thyroid is removed in the surgery.
- Use of certain medications: Medicines used for treating several other conditions like psychiatric condition, heart problems and cancers etc. can also seldom affect the production of thyroid hormone.
- Pregnancy: Sometimes, inflammation of the thyroid occurs after pregnancy though reason is not clear so far. This is condition id known as postpartum thyroiditis which can cause severe increase in the level of thyroid hormone followed by a sharp fall in their production. In most cases their thyroid starts functioning normal after some time.
- Too little intake of iodine: Iodine is required by the thyroid to produce hormones. You have to add iodine in your diet as your body does not make iodine. , so you need to get it through your diet. Iodised salt, saltwater fish, shellfish, dairy products, seaweeds and eggs etc. are some of the good sources of iodine which you can include in your routine diet.
- By birth problem in thyroid: Some babies born with a problem known as congenital hypothyroidism caused by improper functioning of thyroid.
When the ability of thyroid gland to produce thyroid hormone is caused by a failure of the pituitary gland it is known as secondary hypothyroidism. Possible reasons of secondary hypothyroidism
- Damage in pituitary gland: A problem in pituitary gland can rarely affect the production of thyroid hormones. Pituitary gland produces TSH or thyroid stimulating hormone to tell the required amount of hormone to be released by thyroid gland.
- Hypothalamus disorder: Hypothyroidism is rarely caused due to this disorder. The hypothalamus in your brain produces a hormone TRH that affects the release of thyroid stimulating hormone by your pituitary gland. Hypothyroidism caused due to problem with the hypothalamus is also known as tertiary hypothyroidism.
Symptoms of Hypothyroidism
The symptoms of hypothyroidism are usually not clear as they can also indicate for some other problems like:
- Menstrual cycle changes in
- Hair loss and dry hair
- Dry skin
- Slow heart rate
- Greater sensitivity to cold
- Difficulty in losing weight or mysterious gain in weight
- Goitre or swelling in the thyroid gland
- Symptoms of Hypothyroidism in babies
- Though their symptoms are not clear still they can include:
- Cold feet and hands
- Hoarse cry
- Extreme sleepiness
- Hoarse cry
- Low tone muscles
- Slow or no growth
- Poor feeding
- Persistent jaundice
- Bloating stomach
- Puffy face
- Swollen tongue
If you notice any of these symptoms then you should immediately make an appointment with your health care provider even if they could be due to another health condition. The symptoms listed above could correlate to hypothyroidism or something unrelated. If you experience any of the above, it is important to get a check up to see what could be causing them.
Diagnosis of Hypothyroidism
Now that you know about the symptoms of hypothyroidism we can look into seeing how it is diagnosed. It is important to get an accurate diagnoses for this health condition before searching for hypothyroidism treatments. Doctors usually check your hormone levels through a blood test. They usually check the levels of T4 and TSH. If T4 is below a normal level then you can have hypothyroidism. Similarly increases in TSH level with normal T4 also indicates this problem but of a mild nature. Sometimes the results of a physical examination and test are abnormal. In these cases a doctor can perform an ultrasound or scan of your thyroid. This is done to check for any inflammation or nodules in the thyroid gland.
Treatment of hypothyroidism
Hypothyroidism can be treated in various ways. The most common form of treatment of hypothyroidism from doctors involves medication. Synthetic thyroid hormone T4 can be suggested by your doctor as the right hypothyroidism treatment. The usual prescription is one tablet of synthetic t4 to be taken daily. Your doctor should review any other medicines you are taking as some of them can affect the absorption of T4. You will have to check the level of thyroid hormone through regular blood tests so that your doctor can adjust your medication as per requirement.
While medication is a good means to helping improve thyroid function, it is also a lifetime of taking drugs. Other means of treatment of hypothyroidism involve lifestyle changes such as diet. We have an article that discusses which foods you should avoid with hypothyroidism that is worth a read. The article explains how certain types of foods actually do more harm to your thyroid hormone production if you have hypothyroidism.
Another interesting read is our hypothyroidism treatment guidelines. It discusses how medication was doing more harm then good and how simply changing eating habits helped to improve thyroid health. The contents were derived from a guide found online called the “Hypothyroid Revolution”. The guide details how to naturally improve thyroid gland health and thyroid hormone production. The author spent a long time talking to medical professionals and performed various studies to backup his research. The guide has many positive reviews on YouTube and Reddit from people who had been suffering from hypothyroidism. You can learn more about the “Hypothyroid Revolution” book by clicking the link. The author has a full satisfaction guarantee but it is unlikely you will need to use it. The concepts and research provided are solid and have helped many people over the years with hypothyroidism.
Complications of Hypothyroidism
Hypothyroidism can cause various complications if left untreated. These complications may include:
- Heart problems
- Joint pain
In pregnant women hypothyroidism can also affect the mental development of the baby. If the level of hypothyroidism is extremely low then it can cause myxedema which is a life-threatening condition. Myxdena is the most severe complication of hypothyroidism. A person can go into coma or lose consciousness due to myxedema. The temperature of patient’s body can drop severely due to this condition, which can be a fatal.
Hypothyroidism can be a serious issue as it effects your entire body. If you experience any of the symptoms of hypothyroidism you should consult your doctor. While they are not limited to just hypothyroidism, your health should be a priority. If diagnosed with hypothyroidism, rest assured that you can treat the condition. Most medical professionals will prescribe you medication that you will need the rest of your life. If you are looking for a more natural solution, check out the “Hypothyroid Revolution” guide online. It has great reviews and has helped many others suffering from hypothyroidism. Hypothyroidism currently has no cure, but can definitely be treated by various means. The complications of hypothyroidism can be sever so it is important to seek out treatment.