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Hypothyroidism

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Hypothyroidism is condition when the thyroid gland cannot produce enough thyroid hormone- thyroxin. It’s more common in women, especially after 60 years of age.


What are the symptoms of hypothyroidism?

Initially you cannot detect whether you are having hypothyroidism or not because you will only tend to feel tired or might gain weight. But gradually many other health issues crop up which could be:
  • Excessive exhaustion
  • Fatigue and weakness in muscles
  • Slow heart rate
  • High cholesterol levels
  • Depression, problems with memory
  • Dry skin, fragile nails, hair loss
  • Irregular and heavy menstrual bleeding
  • Extremely sensitive to cold
  • Constipation
  • Sudden weight gain or weight loss
  • Hoarseness in voice
  • Puffy looking face


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What causes hypothyroidism?
  • Autoimmune response of the body as in Hashimoto's thyroiditis
  • Family history of Down’s syndrome, Grave’s disease and Turner’s syndrome
  • Surgery in thyroid gland reduces its ability to secrete adequate thyroxin
  • Deficiency of iron in body
  • Radioactive iodine therapy for treating hyperthyroidism
  • Side effect of radiation therapies for cancer
  • Side effect of medicines containing lithium, amiodarone, etc.
In rare instances, hypothyroidism may be congenital or could be a consequence of pituitary gland dysfunction.

Subclinical hypothyroidism is another condition characterized by high levels of TSH but the thyroxin levels are normal.

 

What are the complications of hypothyroidism?

Untreated hypothyroidism is associated with heart diseases, goitre, mental slowdown and peripheral neuropathy. Many cases of infertility and congenital birth defects have been reported due to lack of proper medical treatment. Myxedema coma is a life threatening consequence of chronic unmanaged hypothyroidism.

 

How hypothyroidism can be diagnosed?

Your doctor will speculate the symptoms of hyperthyroidism and then suggest you a blood test to determine the level of thyroid hormone (T3 and T4) and TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone).  This test is normally done during routine health check-ups as well.

TSH is produced by the pituitary gland which further stimulates the thyroid gland to secrete thyroid hormones. A typical case of hypothyroidism shows elevated levels of TSH and reduced levels of thyroxin hormones.

Make sure you let your doctor know about the medicines you are taking or if you are having any health complication.

 

What is the treatment for hypothyroidism?

The treatment of hypothyroidism entails restoring normal levels of thyroxin hormone. The standard medicine for underactive thyroid gland is levothyroxine. The underlying cause or deficiency may also be managed with other drugs.
Hypothyroid medicine has certain implications. Let your doctor know if you are having calcium and iron supplements, contraceptive pills or any other drugs. The dosage and schedule of the existing drugs may be modified or stopped before consuming levothyroxine.

You need follow up blood tests within 6-8 weeks which will help your doctor decide further plan of treatment. The dosage may be lowered as over treatment of hypothyroidism can induce palpitations, high blood pressure and osteoporosis.

 

Lifestyle changes recommended for hypothyroidism

Check with your doctor what foods to avoid that might interfere with the hormone drug. You may be asked to limit intake of foods rich in calcium, fibres and soya products.

It is advisable to eat foods rich in iodine like seaweeds such as kelp, onions, garlic, seeds, nuts, organic egg yolk, sesame butter, artichokes, etc.

Fruits and vegetables containing zinc, vitamin B, C and E improve function of thyroid gland.

There are several therapeutic yoga and exercises that you can learn from a trainer for the purpose of improving the activity of thyroid gland.

This would simultaneously help you to manage weight.

Hypothyroidism is not something uncommon. Normal functioning of thyroid gland can be restored completely when you get yourself diagnosed and treated early.
 
Written by: healthplus24.com, team
Date last updated: February 15, 2014