Understanding Hypothyroidism: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatments

Hypothyroidism, also known as underactive thyroid, is a condition wherein your thyroid gland is too damaged that it cannot produce enough hormones for your body. During this condition, your endocrine system is having troubles in developing thyroid hormone. The most common patients of this disease are those who are more than 60 years old. They

person suffering from hyperthyroidism

Hypothyroidism, also known as underactive thyroid, is a condition wherein your thyroid gland is too damaged that it cannot produce enough hormones for your body. During this condition, your endocrine system is having troubles in developing thyroid hormone.

The most common patients of this disease are those who are more than 60 years old. They are most likely to experience tiredness, depression, and constipation, to name a few. But when this disease is not treated immediately, it can lead to death.

Fortunately, there is a cure for hypothyroidism. Continue reading to find out the treatments, causes, and treatments of hypothyroidism.

Causes of Hypothyroidism

The butterfly-shaped gland in your body is your thyroid. It is placed at the base in front of your neck. This gland creates chemicals such as thyroxine and triiodothyronine that have a great impact on your body, especially your metabolism. But when your thyroid fails to produce these chemicals, it can mess up your whole body system.

Here are the common causes of this ailment:

Pregnancy

There are some cases when women get hypothyroidism after or during pregnancy. This is because pregnant women produce their own antibodies for their thyroid gland. When the woman is confirmed to have hypothyroidism, there is a tendency that she could end up with miscarriage, preeclampsia, or premature delivery.

Congenital disease

If pregnant women can have this illness, then babies can have it too. This is because there are infants who are born with either no thyroid gland or have a defective one. Having these deficiencies are possible during pregnancy or they can inherit it from any of their family members.

There are some cases, though, when children with hypothyroidism look normal. To prevent worsening hypothyroidism, parents are advised to take their children to thyroid screening.

Iodine deficiency

Some studies show that taking too much iodine can lead to hypothyroidism. Iodine is mostly found on seaweed, seafood, and iodized salt, among others. This means when you eat a lot of this food group, you might end up with hypothyroidism.

Pituitary disorder

Although a rare cause of hypothyroidism, the pituitary disorder is when your pituitary gland fails to produce the thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) needed by your body. This could result in a pituitary gland disorder then to hypothyroidism.

Autoimmune disease

If the pituitary disorder is a rare cause, the autoimmune disease is the opposite. This disease also called as Hashimoto’s disease is an inflammatory disorder that occurs when your body’s antibodies attack your tissues. During this time, there is a possibility that even your thyroid gland is affected, eventually leading to hypothyroidism.

Effects of Hypothyroidism

As mentioned earlier, the untreated defected thyroid gland can lead to death. Sadly, there are other life-threatening results you can have when your ailment is not treated, such as the following:

1. Heart problems

One of the effects of hypothyroidism is heart problems. This is because studies have proven that having an underactive thyroid can cause low-density lipoprotein cholesterol that can damage the pumping of your heart.

2. Peripheral neuropathy 

When hypothyroidism is not immediately treated, it could affect your peripheral nerves. You will know that you have peripheral neuropathy when you feel pain and muscle weakness.

3. Goiter

This type of disease happens when your gland enlarges caused by the stimulation of your thyroid gland. A person with this illness can experience a hard time breathing and swallowing.

4. Myxedema

One of the life-threatening conditions that you can get from hypothyroidism is myxedema. This disorder can give you cold intolerance, unconsciousness, or even profound lethargy.

5. Mental health issues

There are cases when hypothyroidism can slower the way your mind works. You can also experience depression during the early stages of this ailment.

6. Birth defects 

A pregnant woman with hypothyroidism could end up having a baby with a birth defect. These babies can have problems in their intellectual development. When not treated immediately, it can cause to bigger problems including the mental and physical health of the child.

7. Infertility 

Having a low level of thyroid chemical can have an effect on your body and cause infertility

Symptoms of Hypothyroidism

Having hypothyroidism is no joke. In fact, it could result in several diseases. This is why it is recommended that when you see any of the following signs, you immediately call your doctor.

  • Puffy face
  • Muscle aches, tenderness, and stiffness
  • Elevated blood cholesterol level
  • Weight gain
  • Hoarseness
  • Depression
  • Dry skin
  • Muscle weakness
  • Constipation
  • Impaired memory
  • Thinning hair
  • Heavier than normal or irregular menstrual periods
  • Slowed heart rate
  • Fatigue
  • Increased sensitivity to cold
  • Pain, stiffness or swelling in your joints

Diagnosing Hyperthyroidism

When any of the aforementioned signs appear, you will be advised by your doctor to undergo a blood test. The main objective of this diagnosis is to measure your thyroxine. When you have a low thyroxine, it means that you have an underactive thyroid.

In addition, there is a screening test wherein the doctor will check your thyroxine and thyroid hormone. This screening can help the doctor determine the medication needed for your disorder

Treating Hyperthyroidism

Having hypothyroidism could be heartbreaking, but you can still save yourself from it. So far, the most recommended and proven way to treat this ailment is through synthetic thyroid hormone levothyroxine. Taking this daily can reserve your symptoms and bring back the needed hormones of your body.

Once you decide to take this medication, you will feel less tired after two weeks. The drug can also lower cholesterol levels. But take note as well that you still have to undergo screening every year for the doctor to check you thyroxine level. This way, the doctor can add or lessen the dosage of your medicine.

Hypothyroidism is a sickness in which your thyroid gland fails to produce the needed chemicals for your body resulting in various diseases such as goiter, heart problems, and even mental issues. There are even cases that could lead to death. This is why it is very crucial that once its signs show up, you consult with your doctor immediately.

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