Symptoms and treatment of hypothyroidism


Learn more about the causes of hypothyroidism and recognize the signs as early as possible.

What is hypothyroidism

Hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid disease) is a disorder in which the gland responsible for creating and releasing thyroid hormone does not produce enough of it for the bloodstream. It can slow down the person’s metabolism, affecting the whole body.

The thyroid is a small butterfly-shaped gland located in the neck, just above the collarbone. Its main function is to help regulate and use energy in almost every organ in the body.

The thyroid controls many bodily functions, such as heart rate and the digestive system. With not enough thyroid hormone in the blood, the body’s natural process begins to slow down.

Recent studies show that around 14% of Australia’s elderly population has a clinically relevant thyroid disorder, of which 4% is undiagnosed.

Hypothyroidism becomes more common with age, and women are ten times more likely to contract the disease. In fact, 1 in 8 women will develop an underactive thyroid later in life.

Extremely low levels of thyroid hormones in the body can even lead to a life-threatening condition known as myxedema. It is the most severe form of hypothyroidism which can lead to a drop in body temperature, anemia, heart failure, loss of consciousness or sudden coma.

Myxedema is a serious condition that requires urgent medical attention.

In general, hypothyroidism is a treatable condition. Symptoms can be controlled with regular medication and lifestyle changes to deal with their side effects.

What are the symptoms of hypothyroidism

An underactive thyroid progresses gradually and can develop completely over several years. A person with hypothyroidism may not experience several symptoms at the same time.

Here are some of the common symptoms:

  • Tiredness or feeling tired
  • Numbness or tingling sensation in the hands
  • Constipation
  • Weight gain
  • Muscle pain or weakness
  • High blood cholesterol
  • Depression
  • Dry and coarse skin and hair
  • Unable to tolerate cold temperatures
  • Physical changes in the facial area (droopy eyelids, eye bags)
  • Deep and hoarse voice
  • Brain fog or forgetfulness

For most people, the symptoms go unnoticed for many years.

Symptoms can become easily identifiable when the thyroid slows down its functions.

What Causes Hypothyroidism

The most common cause of hypothyroidism is Hashimoto’s thyroiditis.

It is an autoimmune thyroid disease that produces antibodies that attack and destroy the thyroid gland.

Other causes may include:

  • Medical treatments (radiotherapy and surgical removal of the thyroid)
  • Iodine deficiency (iodine is a mineral in the body that is used to create hormones)
  • Hereditary disorders (medical history in the family.

In some cases, inflammation of the thyroid occurs after pregnancy (postpartum thyroiditis) or exposure to a viral illness.

Hypothyroidism during pregnancy

Thyroid hormones play a vital role in the development of the fetus in the mother’s womb.

It helps to develop baby’s brain and nervous system.

For patients with hypothyroidism, it is crucial to control thyroid levels during pregnancy.

Lack of hormones during the developmental stages can lead to brain problems and other complications.

Extremely low levels of thyroid hormones can lead to miscarriage or premature delivery.

Treatment of hypothyroidism

The standard treatment for an underactive thyroid involves the daily use of synthetic T4 supplements (Levo-T, Levoxyl, Novothyrox, Synthroid, others).

These oral medications help restore hormone levels and attempt to reverse the effect of hypothyroidism.

Dosage should be reassessed and possibly readjusted from time to time by a healthcare professional until the appropriate level is established.

The person will probably feel better after starting treatment. Taking medicine prescribed by a doctor helps lower cholesterol levels and can reverse any weight gain.

People with the disease do not have a specific diet to follow. However, eating a balanced diet, watching soy intake, and eating more fiber helps cure hypothyroidism with diet.

Creating a diet plan also helps.

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Source:

Brisbane First Aid

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