Hypothyroidism

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Hypothyroidism, also called “underactive thyroid disease”, is simply a common condition in which the thyroid gland produces insufficient thyroid hormone needed by the body. The thyroid gland is a butterfly-shaped gland located at the front of the lower part of the neck, that produces hormones that affects almost the whole body, and its metabolism by […] Read More

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Hypothyroidism

Hypothyroidism, also called “underactive thyroid disease”, is simply a common condition in which the thyroid gland produces insufficient thyroid hormone needed by the body. The thyroid gland is a butterfly-shaped gland located at the front of the lower part of the neck, that produces hormones that affects almost the whole body, and its metabolism by regulating the body’s temperature, heartbeat, digestive system, and the rate at which the body utilizes calories. Hypothyroidism does not show signs at its early stage and would lead to serious health complications when left untreated, which include heart diseases, infertility, joint pain, obesity, etc. Studies have shown it affects 1 in 8 women than males. Also, the elderly (over 60 years) are more susceptible to this condition. Hypothyroidism can start at any age, hence, children can also be affected. According to Healthline, an estimated 10 million people in the united states are affected with 4.6 percent being children.  Subclinical Hypothyroidism Subclinical hypothyroidism is said to occur when hypothyroidism is still in its mild and early form. At this stage, treatment is effective and safe. TYPES OF HYPOTHYROIDISM
  • Primary hypothyroidism – This condition results from a problem with the thyroid gland itself.
  • Secondary hypothyroidism – This is when hypothyroidism occurs due to underlying causes that interfere with thyroid functioning.
  • Tertiary hypothyroidism – This occurs due to the malfunctioning of the hypothalamus that affects the thyroid.
RISK FACTORS OF HYPOTHYROIDISM The following are factors that increase the potentials of having hypothyroidism:
  • Old age
  • A family history of thyroid disease
  • Autoimmune illnesses like type1 diabetes, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, celiac disease, Addison disease,  pernicious anemia, etc.
  • Pregnancy
  • Down syndrome
  • Bipolar disorder
DIAGNOSIS OF HYPOTHYROIDISM The following are steps to diagnosing hypothyroidism:
  • A medical history will be checked and examined.
  • A physical examination is carried out, checking for swelling in the neck, dry skin, slow reflexes and heart rate, sensitivity to cold, and constipation
  • A blood test will be carried out to check the hormonal level of thyroid-stimulating hormonal and thyroxine. 
  • A thyroid scan is also carried out in other to check for inflammation.
  • In subclinical hypothyroidism, the thyroid-stimulating level may be low while having a normal thyroxine level.
TREATMENT AND MANAGEMENT Hypothyroidism could be a lifelong condition because it may not have a cure but can be managed. Using supplements that can boost the thyroid hormone level in the body back to its normal level such as levothyroxine. When treatment begins, it will take a while before one starts feeling relief in symptoms. As time progress, the dosage will be reduced but most likely medication will continue for a very long time. A blood test will be carried periodically to show how well the medication is working.  Eating meals rich in a balanced diet, and vegetables. Avoid meals that contain soy and too much fiber, as it interferes with the absorption of thyroid hormones COMPLICATIONS When hypothyroidism is left untreated for a long time, it could lead to some medical conditions such as:
  • Goiter; when the thyroid gland enlarges more than normal
  • Heart problems due to increasing in lipoprotein cholesterol.
  • Mental issues such as depression, slow mental functioning.
  • Peripheral neuropathy is damage to the peripheral nerve.
  • Infertility since thyroid hormone affects ovulation
  • Myxedema.
  • Birth defects. 
  • Joint pains.
  • Reduced kidney function.
 

Symptoms

The symptoms vary depending on how severe the condition is. Symptoms may not show at the early stage but over time, it becomes more visible. Symptoms include:

  • Fatigue and muscle weakness.
  • Unexplainable weight gain or weight loss.
  • Dry skin.
  • Increase in cholesterol level.
  • Menstrual flow becomes heavy and irregular.
  • Slow heart rate.
  • Impaired memory
  • Goiter
  • Painful joint
  • Increase sensitivity to cold
  • Hoarseness of voice
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Constipation
  • Puffy face

In Children

  • Jaundice; yellowing of the skin- occurs due to the inability of the liver to metabolize bilirubin.
  • Protruding tongue
  • Hoarse crying
  • Umbilical hernia
  • Constipation
  • Excessive sleepiness
  • Poor muscle tone
  • Delayed puberty
  • Poor mental development
  • Poor growth
  • Cold hands and feet

Causes

This condition could be caused by several factors which include:

  • Autoimmune disease. 

This happens when the body's immune cells fight the body cells believing they are foreign cells, leading to a severe condition such as Hashimoto thyroiditis; a disease that attacks the thyroid gland.

  • Too much hyperthyroidism medication
  • Thyroid surgery
  • Radiation therapy
  • Congenital disease
  • Iodine deficiency in the diet
  • Failure of the pituitary gland to produce enough thyroid-stimulating hormone
  • Pregnancy causes postpartum thyroiditis
  • Use of certain medications such as amiodarone, interferon-alpha, and interleukin-2.
  • The inability of the hypothalamus to function effectively.

FAQ

If I haven’t had goiter or thyroid surgery in the past, would I still develop hypothyroidism?

Some factors could lead to developing hypothyroidism apart from goiter or thyroid. Such factors include iodine deficiency, thyroiditis, etc, which could lead to the development of hypothyroidism.

What is the best way to find out if I am hypothyroid?

One of the suitable methods of diagnosing hypothyroidism is through a blood test and thyroid scan which will ascertain your level of thyroid hormone.

What effect does hypothyroidism have on the body?

Hypothyroidism affects the energy level of the body,  bowel movements, mental function, heart rate, etc. Its effect could be mild or severe depending on your insufficiency of the thyroid hormone.

What should be avoided in hypothyroidism?

Foods such as soy food, cabbages, broccoli, spinach, sweet potatoes, cassava, strawberries, millet, pine nuts, etc, should be avoided by people suffering from hypothyroidism as it affects the absorption of thyroid hormone.

Can any part of my body indicate if I have hypothyroidism?

The part of our body which shows our level of thyroid hormone in our hands and nails can cause dermatologic findings such as nail infection, slow nail growth, nail splitting and lifting, and vertical whites ridges on the nails.