What are the Symptoms of Hypothyroidism and What are its Remedies? : Thyroid Gland is an endocrine gland which is located in the neck and is present in front of the voice box or larynx. It is a butterfly-shaped organ that is composed of two lobes which are connected in the midline by a broad isthmus. Thyroid Gland plays a major function in maintaining the rate of metabolism which is done with the help of iodine-containing thyroid hormones.
Hormones secreted by Thyroid Gland :
- Free – Thyroxine or Free – T4 or FT4
- Free – Tri – iodothyronine or Free – T3 or FT3
Among all the hormonal problems, thyroid disorders are the commonest. These disorders can be divided into three major groups :
- Hyperthyroidism – Excessive production of Thyroid hormones.
- Hypothyroidism – Decreased production of Thyroid hormones.
- Goiter – It is represented as multiple nodules or generalized swelling of the Thyroid Gland.
What Is Hypothyroidism?
Hypothyroidism is nothing else but an endocrine disorder. This disorder occurs due to improper functioning of Thyroid Gland which leads to a decreased production of Thyroxine hormone. This decreased production of Thyroxine leads to a hypometabolic clinical state. Due to the insufficient production of Thyroxine hormone Basal Metabolic Rate of the body decreases.
Prevalence of Hypothyroidism
- The prevalence of hypothyroidism in India is 11%.
- The incidence of Hypothyroidism is more common in hilly areas due to washing away of iodine from the soil in hilly areas.
- The incidence of Thyroid disorders is as common in men as in women.
Hypothyroidism can manifest in two forms depending on the age at onset of disorder :
- Cretinism or Congenital Hypothyroidism – Severe hypothyroidism during infancy and childhood
- Myxoedema – Adulthood hypothyroidism
What Can All Lead To Development Of Hypothyroidism?
- Developmental Defects
- Genetic Defect In Thyroid Hormone Synthesis
- Fetal exposure to Anti – Thyroid drugs
- Endemic Cretinism – Occur due to dietary lack of iodine
- Hashimoto Disease – It is an autoimmune disease in which there occurs an immune response against the Thyroid Gland which leads to decrease in Thyroid function.
- Treatment of Hyperactive Thyroid
- Change In the structure of Thyroid Gland
- Prolonged administration of Anti – Thyroid drugs
- Thyroid Cancer
- Drug induced – Due to drugs like Carbimazole, Propylthiouracil, Iodine, Amiodarone, Lithium, Interferons, Thalidomide, Sun it inhibits, Rifampicin
What Are The Symptoms of Hypothyroidism?
- Dull – dry hair
- Dull – dry skin
- Hair fall
- Swollen face
- Swollen eye
- Swollen fingers
- Fatigue and tiredness
- Weight gain
- Difficulty in losing weight
- Cold intolerance
- Bowel problems (like Constipation)
- Heart problems
- Depressed feeling
- Hoarse voice
- Bradycardia (Slow heart rate)
- Menstrual Abnormalities
What happens if Hypothyroidism is left untreated?
- Birth Defects
Untreated thyroid disorders during pregnancy increase the risk of birth defects in newborn infant. Babies who are born to women with untreated thyroid disorders have a greater probability of developing mental and physical issues because thyroid hormones are vital for brain development.
Goiter is a disease which manifests as swelling of the neck. This swelling occurs when Thyroid Gland enlarges in an effort to produce an adequate amount of hormones to meet the requirements of the body.
- Heart Problems
Hypothyroidism even in its mildest forms has effects on the heart. This happens because underactive thyroid can increase levels of ‘bad’ cholesterol. Excessive ‘bad cholesterol’ or ‘low-density lipids’ can lead to atherosclerosis, hardening of the arteries, which can increase your risk of heart attacks and strokes. Hypothyroidism can also cause retention of fluid around the heart which is also known as pericardial effusion. This retention of fluid around the heart makes it harder for the heart to pump blood.
Thyroid hormones play an important role in ovulation. Therefore, low levels of Thyroid hormones in the body can affect the ovulation process which further decreases a woman’s chances of conceiving.
- Mental Health Issues
Untreated hypothyroidism may even precipitate mental illnesses. Hypothyroidism can cause depression. Untreated disorder will lead to a rise in symptoms of Hypothyroidism and intensify the depression. Hypothyroidism is also associated with a gradual decrease in mental functioning.
- Renal complications
Extreme hypothyroidism decreases the kidney’s function. This occurs due to decreased blood flow to the kidneys. There is the decreased absorption of sodium and increased excretion of water which results in a low level of sodium.
- Nervous system complications
Hypothyroidism can lead to many problems related to nervous systems, such as muscle weakness or nerve injury. These problems can further lead to breathing difficulties, hoarseness, trouble walking, trouble talking, pain in the hands and feet.
Myxedema is a condition of extreme hypothyroidism. This usually occurs when the disorder has progressed for a long time with no treatment. There is extremely slow metabolism which can eventually land up into a coma. Symptoms of Myxedema include extreme fatigue or cold intolerance. Myxedema is a very rare condition as the symptoms of this disorder cannot go unnoticed. This is a life threatening disorder and requires immediate medical attention.
What are the investigations which one should go for to confirm Hypothyroidism?
- Blood Test – Blood test is the initial screening test that includes accessing the level of hormones in your body to diagnose whether you have hypothyroidism or not :
- T4 – Thyroxine
- T3 – Tri – iodothyronine
- TSH – Thyroid Stimulating Hormone
- Thyroid Scan
- Dietary Approach
It mainly aims at adding iodine to the diet in form of iodized salt. For those who are Non – Vegetarian, seafood like fish, prawns, and crabs are a great option. It is also a wise choice to consult a dietitian.
- Physical Activity
People who are suffering from hypothyroidism should follow a proper work out routine including exercises and walk for at least one hour.
The therapy suggested by a physician may include Thyroid Hormonal Pills. Oral treatment for hypothyroidism includes daily intake of the synthetic thyroid hormone levothyroxine (Levothroid, Synthroid, others). This medication restores adequate hormone levels which help in reversing the signs and symptoms of hypothyroidism.
Finally, always seek expert help. If you are lucky to have a VLCC center near your home, do visit them. They are having an up to 50% off on health care packages. Check out this link: VLCC Get Well Soon for details!
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