Hypothyroidism is a condition in which the thyroid gland does not produce required quantities of hormone. Many factors can cause hypothyroidism. Thyroid gland functions are monitored by pituitary gland located in the brain. Hypothyroidism symptoms are very subtle and it can be treated by taking regular medications. Old age people especially women are prone to get this disorder. Low levels of thyroid hormone can cause serious affects on the body’s growth and metabolism.
Thyroid Hormone :
Thyroid gland is found just below the neck exactly below the Adam’s apple. It secretes thyroid hormone and this gland encloses the trachea or windpipe and resembles a butterfly in shape. Each hormone has specific functions in our body and thyroid is responsible for metabolic processes in the body. Two types of thyroid hormone is available namely Thyroxine T4 and Tri-iodothyronine T3. It is the T3 hormone that involves in major biological activity. Once the hormone is released into the bloodstream T4 hormone is converted into T3 for active metabolism.
Hypothalamus produces a hormone by name Thyrotropin Releasing Hormone TRH that in turn communicates signal to the pituitary gland for releasing TSH. Thyroid Stimulating Hormone triggers signal for releasing thyroid hormones. Any disruption in this network can slow down the production of thyroid hormone causing hypothyroidism. It is the pituitary gland that is responsible for producing sufficient levels of thyroid hormone.
Hypothyroidism is a common problem in many adults and old aged group of people. Women are more likely to get this problem than men. Certain medical conditions like Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, brain surgery, complications in the hypothalamus or pituitary gland and severe iodine deficiency can cause hypothyroidism. Autoimmune disorders like Hashimoto’s syndrome in which body’s healthy tissues are attacked by immune system affecting the thyroid hormone secretion.
Taking prolonged treatment for hyperthyroidism (excess of thyroid secretion) can decrease the ability of thyroid function. Any surgical process in the thyroid gland can impair the normal secretion of thyroid hormone. Taking radiation therapy for cancer can affect the function of thyroid gland causing hypothyroidism. Medications like Lithium carbonate given for psychotic disorders can cause this problem. Any functional abnormality in pituitary gland can disrupt the production of TSH leading to hypothyroidism. Taking high amounts of iodine in your diet can sometimes cause hypothyroidism.
Often, hypothyroidism produces little or no symptoms. The signs become obvious only when the patient is tested for some other problem. Even if hypothyroidism produces symptoms it is confused with other medical conditions and diseases. Common symptoms of this disorder are slowed down metabolism, extreme tiredness, depression, and weight gain, intolerance to cold temperature, constipation, dry hair, muscle cramps and decreased concentration. There can be muscle pain, body ache and swelling of legs.
Symptoms in Infants :
Infants and children may develop hypothyroidism if it is congenital (by birth). Some of the common symptoms seen in children are frequent choking, yellow coloration of skin, large protruding tongue and puffy face. Sometimes the eyes become swollen and yellowish if the liver of the child cannot metabolize bilirubin. If the disease progresses in children, it can cause constipation and drowsiness. It can affect his mental ability, cognitive power, poor growth, delayed puberty and poor development of teeth.
Who are at risk?
Aged persons (more particularly women than men), people with autoimmune disorder, people who are taking radiation therapy for neck cancer, people who have undergone surgery for thyroid gland are prone to get hypothyroidism. If left untreated hypothyroidism can cause complications like goiter, mental health problem, heart problems (due to increased cholesterol), peripheral neuropathy affecting the nerves, and infertility issues. Pregnant women with hypothyroidism can give birth to child with birth defects.
Blood test is enough for detecting the right levels of thyroid hormone. Measurement of TSH level is the accurate test for detecting hypothyroidism.
Hypothyroidism requires lifelong treatment very often. Earlier desiccated form of thyroid tablets were prescribed but now synthetic levothyroxine is given for treating this disorder. For most of the patients T4 levothyroxine sodium like Levoxyl is recommended for treating hypothyroidism. It is more effective than giving T3 which has to be taken in large doses daily. But Levoxyl can be taken as single dose each day.
An average adult requires about 100-150 micrograms of thyroid per day. But children may need large doses. Patients with heart problem who are taking thyroid replacement therapy can get their problems aggravated. For old aged people with heart disease, the doctor will have to closely monitor the changes while giving thyroid therapy since it can cause heart attack.
Synthetic T4 drug is to be taken daily in the morning before eating your breakfast. You need to avoid certain drugs that contain iron or antacids since it can interfere with this medication. Within two-three weeks of starting thyroid therapy most of them will get relief from symptoms like fatigue. The medication will lower the cholesterol level gradually which will eventually reduce your weight. Side effects of this drug are increase in appetite, insomnia or sleeping sickness, palpitation of heart and shakiness. Hence your doctor will have to find the exact dosage required by your body.
Pictures of Hypothyroidism :
Images, Pics, Pictures and Photos of Hypothyroidism
Subclinical Hypothyroidism :
This is a condition seen in patients who do not show any symptoms of hypothyroidism and their thyroid hormone reading will be normal. But they will have an increased TSH network in their blood indicating pituitary gland is over working. Most of them will gradually get hypothyroidism. It is necessary to follow-up the treatment and get their blood testing done repeatedly for checking the TSH hormone level.