Hypothyroidism / Underactive Thyroid – Conditions

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Overview

Hypothyroidism is a condition that affects many individuals, commonly known as underactive thyroid disease. The thyroid gland fails to produce enough thyroid hormone for the body to operate correctly in this condition.

The hormones that the gland generates pass through your circulation and affect almost every organ in the body, including the heart, brain, muscles and skin.

The thyroid gland is responsible for metabolism, the process by which cells of the body utilize the energy that comes from meals to operate correctly. Your metabolism, among other things, affects your body temperature, pulse and how effectively you burn calories. You cannot function correctly if you do not have enough thyroid hormone (low thyroid). As a result, your body produces less energy, and as a result your metabolism slows down.

There may be no symptoms of hypothyroidism when it is in its early stages. Untreated hypothyroidism may lead over time to a variety of health issues, including obesity, joint discomfort, infertility and cardiovascular disease.

Testing for thyroid function is reliable and may be utilized early in the identification of hypothyroidism. The synthetic thyroid hormone administration is generally simple, safe and successful once your doctor has established the correct dosage.

Causes

Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is the most frequent cause of hypothyroidism. It is gland inflammation and an autoimmune disease. Your body creates antibodies to target and kill the cells of the thyroid gland in Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. A viral infection may also cause thyroiditis.

Other causes are mentioned below:

Neck radiation therapy is a treatment that involves irradiating the region around the neck. Certain malignancies like lymphoma require neck radiation treatment. Thyroid cells are damaged by radiation. This makes hormone production more challenging for the gland.

Treatment using radioactive iodine can also cause hypothyroidism. Hyperthyroidism is a disease in which the thyroid gland is hyperactive. This medication is frequently given to individuals with hyperthyroidism. Radiation, on the other hand, kills the cells of the thyroid gland causing hypothyroidism. 

Certain medicines also cause underactive thyroid. Thyroid hormone production may be harmed by some medications used to treat heart disease, mental disorders, and cancer.

Thyroid problems may be prevalent from birth. Occasionally, babies are born with a thyroid gland that has not fully grown or is not functioning correctly. Congenital hypothyroidism is a kind of hypothyroidism that develops at the time of conception.

Damage to or dysfunction of the pituitary gland may cause hypothyroidism. Thyroid hormone production may be disrupted by a malfunction with the pituitary gland, which occurs only in rare cases. In the pituitary gland, a hormone known as TSH is produced, which instructs the thyroid gland on how much hormone it should produce and release.

The existence of a problem with the thyroid gland is characterized by primary hypothyroidism.

Secondary hypothyroidism may be developed if another disease interferes with the thyroid’s ability to produce hormones. The pituitary gland as well as hypothalamus, for example, is responsible for the synthesis of hormones that induce thyroid hormone secretion. Your thyroid may become inactive if you have an issue with one of these glands.

Symptoms

Hypothyroidism symptoms are influenced by the severity of the hormone deficiency. Problems are most often discovered gradually, over a period of many years.

Hypothyroidism symptoms such as fatigue and weight gain may go undetected at first since they are subtle. When your metabolism slows, on the other hand, you may have more noticeable symptoms.

Low thyroid symptoms may include:

·         Increased cold sensitivity

·         Fatigue

·         Constipation

·         Dried skin

·         Weight Gain

·         Hoarseness

·         Weakness

·         Higher blood cholesterol levels

·         Muscle pains, soreness and rigidity

·         Edema

·         Heavier than usual or irregular cycles of menstruation

·         Slowed heart rate

·         Thinning hair

·         Depression

·         Memory impairment

Diagnosis

If you are feeling more fatigued, having dry skin, constipation, or weight gain, or if you have had prior thyroid issues or a goiter, your doctor may recommend testing for an underactive thyroid. Blood tests are performed to evaluate hormone levels if you have underactive thyroid symptoms. These may include the following:

·         TSH

·         T4

T4 values that are lower than normal typically indicate hypothyroidism. Some individuals, on the other hand, may have elevated TSH levels despite having normal T4 levels. Subclinical (mild) hypothyroidism is the term for this condition. It is thought to be the first sign of hypothyroidism.

If you have abnormal thyroid test results or a physical exam, your doctor may prescribe a thyroid ultrasound, also known as a thyroid scan, to look for inflammation or nodules.

Treatment

As a conventional treatment for hypothyroidism, the synthetic thyroid hormone is administered on a regular basis. This oral medication helps to restore normal hormone levels, which helps to alleviate the signs and symptoms of hypothyroidism.

Your doctor will prescribe T4 (thyroid hormone) if you have hypothyroidism. You must take this medication every day. Thyroid hormone levels are regularly tested, and this is done via blood tests. The dosage of your prescription medicine may have to be adjusted from time to time. It may take some time to determine the optimum thyroid hormone dose for you.

People with severe hypothyroidism or heart defects should start with a modest dosage of synthetic hormone and progressively increase it.

You will most likely see an improvement in your symptoms within a few weeks of starting treatment. When used regularly, the medication works by gradually decreasing cholesterol levels that have been elevated as a consequence of the disease. It may also be effective in reversing weight gain. It is virtually probable that your treatment will continue for the remainder of your life; however, since the dosage you need may change over time, your doctor will likely check your TSH level at least once a year.

When to see a doctor

If you’re feeling fatigued for no apparent reason, or if you are experiencing any of the other indications or symptoms of hypothyroidism, such as dry skin, a pale, bloated face, constipation, or a raspy voice, see your doctor.

Follow-up visits should be scheduled as often as your doctor recommends if you are receiving thyroid hormone therapy for hypothyroidism. It is critical to ensure that you are receiving the proper dose of medicine.


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