What is hypothyroidism?
Hypothyroidism, likewise called an underactive thyroid, is a medical disorder that occurs as a result of low production of thyroid hormone by the thyroid gland.
The thyroid gland is a butterfly-shaped gland that is a very useful structure in the human body. It is located in the front of the neck below Adam’s apple. The thyroid has a middle bridge called the isthmus that connects the two lobes on each side.
The thyroid cannot be felt in its normal healthy state. The thyroid gland creates two hormones called Triiodothyronine(T3) and Thyroxine(T4) with the help of iodine. Thyroid hormones are involved in regulating metabolism, blood pressure, heart rate, body temperature, brain development, muscle control, bone, and mood maintenance.
In the absence of iodine, thyroid glands do not function properly, and low thyroid hormones are produced, leading to so many health problems.
We at Mayor Boss have put together the signs and symptoms of hypothyroidism. Let’s have a look.
Symptoms of hypothyroidism
Here are the signs and symptoms of hypothyroidism:
- Increase sensitivity to cold
- Weight gain
- Goiter (enlarged thyroid gland)
- Extreme tiredness that has nothing to do with the number of activities done
- Muscle pain and weakness
- Hoarse voice
- Difficulty losing weight
- Myxedema (Puffy face, pale puffiness around the eyes)
- Joint swelling and stiffness
- Irregular menstrual cycle
- Hair loss/thin hair
- Dry skin
- Forgetfulness/ problems with memory
- Elevated cholesterol levels
- Reduced perspiration (sweating)
- Carpel tunnel syndrome
- Difficulty concentrating on basic tasks
- Brittle nails (thinned out nails that crack easily)
- Sexual dysfunction
- Slow heart rate
- Chest pain
- Shortness of breath
- Problems with hearing
- Increase the risk of pre-eclampsia
- Delayed puberty in teenagers
- Enlarged tongue in infants
- Reduced reflexes
- Tingling feeling and pain in the legs and arms
Risk Factors of Hypothyroidism:
- Being a woman
- Older than 60
- Being of Asian or Caucasian descent
- Family history of thyroid diseases
- Family history of autoimmune disorders
- Having an autoimmune disease such as celiac disease, diabetes type 1 or rheumatoid arthritis
- Prior to thyroid surgery
- Exposure to radiation
What causes hypothyroidism?
- Autoimmune destruction of thyroid glands (Hashimoto’s thyroiditis)
- Congenital thyroid agenesis (thyroid Hemi-agenesis) is a rare disorder where one lobe of the thyroid glands fail to develop.
- Treatment of thyroid glands by radioactive iodine which can destroy the thyroid
- Surgical removal of the thyroid gland
- Congenital hypothyroidism (cretinism); it is also called congenital iodine deficiency syndrome
How is hypothyroidism diagnosed?
Hypothyroidism is diagnosed with the help of presenting symptoms in patients and blood tests. Elevated levels of thyroid-stimulating hormone(TSH) and low levels of Thyroxine are the markings of hypothyroidism. The normal amount of TSH: 0.4mU/L – 4.0mU/L(milli-international unit of hormone per liter of blood) and Thyroxine: 0.8 – 2.4nanograms per deciliter(ng/DL).
Treatment of Hypothyroidism
Daily use of Levothyroxine for life. The dose will be changed over time as symptoms get better. This long term intake of Levothyroxine will require a yearly check of TSH and kidneys because an overdose of Levothyroxine can present with symptoms such as palpitations, increased appetite, giddiness, difficulty sleeping, and diarrhea.