The thyroid is a gland located in the lower part of the neck, below the voice box. It secretes thyroid hormone. Hypothyroidism is a condition resulting from decreased secretion of thyroid hormone. Hypothyroidism can result from a disease of the pituitary gland, Hashimoto’s disease, inflammation of the thyroid gland or certain medications.
Generally, women are more prone to hypothyroidism than men. Hypothyroidism is more common in the middle age group. But, it can affect infants as well.
Hypothyroidism affects the normal metabolism of a person. A person with hypothyroidism gains more weight, feels very tired, and cannot bear the cold temperature. Undergoing treatment can help the thyroid gland to secrete thyroid as normal.
The thyroid gland is located on both sides below the voice box in the lower part of the neck.
Hypothyroidism is caused by one or a combination of the following factors:
The immune system attacks the thyroid glands due to an autoimmune disease. This is the most common reason for hypothyroidism.
A condition of decreased thyroid secretion from childbirth.
Thyroid gland inflammation causes a condition called thyroiditis, resulting in hypothyroidism.
Surgical treatment by the removal of the thyroid gland, radiation treatment to treat hyperthyroidism, or medication for hyperthyroidism can result in hypothyroidism.
In some people, intake of more iodine or too less iodine in their food can result in pituitary disease.
Early-tage hypothyroidism rarely causes any symptoms. The symptoms may appear different in each person. It may even take months or years to identify the condition.
- Dryness of skin, hair
- A depressed state of mind
- The sudden gain in weight on the face and all over the body
- Inability to tolerate very low temperatures
- Reduction in the secretion of sweat
- Inflammation of thyroid glands
Symptoms in women include:
- Irregular or heavy menstruation
- Fertility issues
Least common symptoms:
- Muscle pain
- Heart rate reduction
Possible Treatment of Hypothyroidism
The treatment for hypothyroidism usually depends on the patient’s overall health condition and the severity of the disease conditions. It includes factors such as age, cause of the hypothyroidism, and severity of hypothyroidism.
Some common treatment options include:
Replacement of the thyroid hormone with medicines. After starting the medicine for 6-8 weeks, a blood test will be done. Your doctor will adjust the dosage of the medicine based on the blood test results to measure the level of thyroid hormone. Once the right dosage is found, the blood test is done once a year.
People with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis and other factors contributing to hypothyroidism have to be careful with iodine intake. Pregnant women are more prone to hypothyroidism since the baby also intakes iodine through the mother’s food. Consult your doctor about the food and medicines to be avoided.
Risk Factors of Hypothyroidism
Hypothyroidism can lead to an increase in the deposition of fat in the body, resulting in high cholesterol. When untreated, advanced hypothyroidism can cause myxedema coma. This condition is life-threatening and impairs total body functions.
Hypothyroidism can cause problems during pregnancy, including miscarriage, high blood pressure, slowing down the baby’s growth, and premature baby birth.
Typical Test of Hypothyroidism
Hypothyroidism is difficult to detect since the symptoms are very common, and it may even take a few months to years to confirm the condition. The diagnosis of hypothyroidism is made by the following:
- Physical examination - In the case of hypothyroidism, the thyroid gland below the voice box is swollen.
- Medical history - Family history of hypothyroidism and medical history of undergoing any treatment for a thyroid disorder is considered.
- Thyroid test - Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH), T3, T4 and thyroid antibody blood tests are done to detect the hormone levels.
- Thyroid gland scan - A thyroid scan, radioactive iodine uptake test and ultrasound are done to check the appearance and functioning of the thyroid gland.
Prevention of Hypothyroidism
Hypothyroidism can’t be prevented, but extra care to be taken during the following conditions:
- Other autoimmune disorder
- Family history of thyroid-related disorders
- Radiation treatment to the neck or head to cure some other health conditions
- Medications which can affect normal thyroid functioning
The other name for hypothyroidism is an underactive thyroid.
Epidemiology of Hypothyroidism
The estimated incidence of hypothyroidism is high in women compared to men. Hypothyroidism is highly prevalent in middle-aged people and pregnant women.
Expected Prognosis of Hypothyroidism
Fortunately, recent advancements in diagnostic procedures, treatment options, and medication have drastically reduced the number of new cases of hypothyroidism and its associated complications.
Natural Progression of Hypothyroidism
Hypothyroidism doesn’t spread to other organs of the body. However, not undergoing treatment may affect the normal thyroid and body functions.
Pathophysiology of Hypothyroidism
Hypothyroidism is characterised by the reduction in the secretion of the thyroid by the thyroid glands. It can also be identified by the swollen thyroid gland located below the vocal cord on both sides.
Possible Complications of Hypothyroidism
The possible complications of hypothyroidism, if left untreated, are:
- Myxedema coma (Life-threatening condition)
- Asthma and other breathing complications
- Depression (Affects the mental health)
- Inability to tolerate cold temperature
- Decreased functioning of the heart (Fat deposition and high cholesterol)
- Goitre (swelling of the thyroid gland)
- High blood pressure during pregnancy
- Premature delivery
- Slowing down the baby’s growth
Our BLK-Max Medical Experts
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