A gland situated in your neck that secretes and stores two thyroid hormones, T3 (Triiodothyronine) and T4 (Thyroxine), and releases them into the bloodstream is the thyroid gland. But when the gland does not produce enough hormones to keep up with the requirement, the body's functions slow down, and the medical condition is known as hypothyroidism.
The hormones produced by the thyroid gland provide energy for sustenance to almost every part of your body and help control several functions, including the heart beating and various digestive processes. That's why without sufficient hormones, the whole body, along with every function related to it, starts to slow down.
Women are more at peril than men of having hypothyroidism, also known as a condition with an underactive thyroid. Although you might experience this medical condition at any age, it is more commonly seen among people over 60. The doctor will be able to diagnose it through the symptoms or with the help of a blood test.
When the condition is in its preliminary and mild stages, it is called subclinical hypothyroidism. After that, the symptoms might increase, but you will be relieved to know that the treatment is relatively easy and effective, along with being safe for patients of all ages.
These treatments cure the condition by supplementing the thyroid hormones in your body to cope with the requirements. In addition, it will improve the body's vital functions.
Although in its subclinical stage, you might not experience too many symptoms in the case of hypothyroidism. But gradually, you might encounter several health-related issues, including joint pain, heart disease, obesity, infertility, etc.
The symptoms of hypothyroidism may vary depending upon the patient's age and extent and duration of the condition. It often takes several years for these symptoms to develop.
The initial symptoms like weight changes and fatigue are usually ignored or credited to the age. However, the other symptoms become more noticeable as the thyroid issues start slowing down your metabolism.
Here are a few common symptoms experienced by hypothyroidism patients:
- Cold Sensitivity
- Dry skin
- Bloated face
- Weakness in the muscles
- Stiff joints, along with pain and swelling
- Thinning hair
- Goitre (overly built-up thyroid glands)
- Weight gain
- High levels of blood cholesterol
- Tender and stiff joints with pain
- Irregular menstrual periods
- Slowed heart rate
- Debilitated memory
These are just a few indicators of hypothyroidism. But they might differ in infants and children.
Hypothyroidism in Children: Although children and teens suffering from hypothyroidism experience the same symptoms as adults, there are certain additional signs you might notice.
- The slow growth of permanent teeth
- Poor psychological growth
- Delayed growth, resulting in short height
- Delayed sexual maturity
Hypothyroidism in Infants: Although underactive thyroid usually affects people of older age, anybody can suffer from this medical condition. That does not exclude infants. The reasons for infants having hypothyroidism could be a missing thyroid gland, or it doesn't produce enough hormones to cope with the requirement. A few of the indications of hypothyroidism in the infants include:
- Enormous tongue
- Hoarse crying
- Skin and eyes are turning yellow, a condition that is commonly known as jaundice. The most frequent cause of jaundice is the substance bilirubin being too much to metabolise. It happens when the body recycles too many impaired red blood cells.
- Protruding hernia
- Having difficulty breathing
If you observe any of these symptoms in your child or infant, consulting with your paediatrician would be the best choice for you. They would be able to determine the root cause and treat it accordingly.
Additionally, seeing a doctor would be the best option if you are experiencing pale and dry skin, hoarse voice, constipation or puffy face, etc.
In the case of hormone therapy, you must follow the instructions carefully and have regular follow-up visits as the doctor recommends.
The fundamental cause of hypothyroidism is the thyroid gland not producing enough thyroid hormones to compensate for the body's requirements. But there are several causes for the gland not producing enough hormones, including hyperthyroidism treatments, thyroid surgery, certain autoimmune diseases, radiation therapy, etc.
The thyroid is a small part shaped like a butterfly, located near the bottom of your neck, that produces the hormones T4 or Thyroxine and T3 or Triiodothyronine to drive the vital functions of a human body. These hormones have a massive impact on your health as they profoundly influence your metabolism and control your body's crucial functions, including controlling heart rate and body temperature.
As mentioned earlier, the leading cause of hypothyroidism is the thyroid gland not producing enough hormones. But it can be due to several different factors, including:
- Side Effect Of Hyperthyroidism Treatment: Hyperthyroidism is a medical condition in which the thyroid gland produces too much hormone. They are often treated with treatments like antithyroid medications and radioactive iodine to suppress thyroid production. The goal of these treatments is to bring the thyroid levels down, back to normal. But it might happen that these treatments could over-suppress the thyroid, resulting in hypothyroidism.
- Radiation Therapy: Radiation therapy is a prevalent technique for treating several types of cancers, including the ones in your neck and head. The radiations can negatively influence your thyroid gland, decreasing hormone production, resulting in hypothyroidism.
- Autoimmune diseases: The medical conditions in which the body's natural defences attack your healthy tissues are autoimmune diseases. The autoimmune disorder that is most commonly associated with hypothyroidism is considered to be Hashimoto's thyroiditis.
The experts have not been able to determine why this disorder affects the hormone production of the thyroid gland. But your genes combined with the natural environmental triggers may have an influence. No matter the reason, this disease hinders the thyroid's ability to secrete and store the T3 and T4 hormones.
- Surgical Procedure For Thyroid: Due to certain reasons, you might have to undergo surgery where the doctor removes the whole thyroid gland or a large portion of it. If that happens, you will have to rely on thyroid supplements your whole life.
- Side Effects To Medications: Several medications can induce side effects causing hypothyroidism. Medications containing lithium used to treat certain psychiatric conditions can very commonly induce side effects, including hypothyroidism. If you are experiencing the symptoms, you might want to consult with your doctor to determine an alternative.
There are a few causes that might not be that frequent, but they can result in hypothyroidism:
- Pregnancy: During pregnancy, certain women experience hypothyroidism because their immune system starts developing antibodies against their thyroid glands. It is also called postpartum hypothyroidism.
- Congenital Disease: It is possible that a baby was born with a defective thyroid gland that might have resulted in hypothyroidism.
- Lack of Iodine: Iodine is a mineral found in iodised salt and seaweed and plants grown in iodised soil. As it helps thyroid hormone production, Iodised table salt has eliminated this medical condition in several patients.
- Pituitary Disorder: In this condition, the pituitary gland does not produce enough TSH (Thyroid-stimulating hormone) for the thyroid gland. Due to which the production of thyroid hormones is not sufficient, causing hypothyroidism.
A few types of people who are at risk for hypothyroidism are as follows:
- People over the age of 60.
- People suffering from certain autoimmune medical conditions like celiac disease, type 1 diabetes, etc.
- People undergoing radiation therapy on their upper chest or neck due to cancer.
- Women who are pregnant or have given birth in the past six months.
- Women in general.
- People with a medical history of thyroid conditions.
- People on antithyroid medications or radioactive iodine.
- Have had a surgical procedure for the thyroid.
If you fit in these trigger categories, you might suffer from hypothyroidism. In that case, you might want to consult with the doctor at the earliest, as it can cause other severe health problems, including:
- Heart problems: Several medical specialists associate hypothyroidism with heart problems, as not producing enough hormones directly influences your heart rate and body temperature due to high levels of LDL cholesterol.
- Peripheral Neuropathy: Your peripheral nerves can suffer severe damage if the underactive thyroid condition is not controlled in time. These nerves help send the functioning messages from the spinal cord and brain to the other parts of the body.
- Goitre: In hypothyroidism, your thyroid gland gets constantly stimulated for increased production of T3 and T4 hormones. It can result in the gland getting bigger, a condition that is also known as goitre.
- Psychological Issues: Psychological issues like depression are very common in the early stages of hypothyroidism, which is considered to be subclinical.
- Myxedema: If you don't treat hypothyroidism for a long time, it may get severe, resulting in Myxedema. In this condition, your tolerance to cold gets diminished, and you turn quite drowsy. These symptoms are followed by unconsciousness and fatigue.
These are just a few causes of hypothyroidism and the severe diseases it can lead up to. So it would be best if you went to the doctor in the early stages for a diagnosis and benefit from the most effective treatment.
As mentioned earlier, early diagnosis of hypothyroidism is quite necessary, as it might result in several other medical problems.
The primary technique for diagnosing hypothyroidism is checking the TSH and thyroid hormone levels through a blood test. If the level of T4 or thyroxine is low and the level of TSH high, it would indicate underactive thyroid or hypothyroidism. The reason behind that is, the pituitary gland produces more TSH to stimulate the thyroid gland to cope with the requirements.
Along with diagnosing the condition, the TSH test along with the blood test will also help the doctor prescribe the right dosage to counter hypothyroidism. For subclinical hypothyroidism, you will have no symptoms, and the thyroid hormone levels will also be normal, but the TSH levels will be higher, depicting the condition.
But before the diagnosis, let the doctor know about any blood-thinning medication or multivitamin supplement, as they can affect the blood test, resulting in an inaccurate diagnosis.
Homeopathy helps treat the root cause of a medical condition with the help of natural substances. Hypothyroidism is considered to be incurable because of its progressive nature, but homeopathic remedies can help you control the symptoms to a much greater extent.
Homeopathic treatment for every medical condition is devised by the practitioner depending upon several different physical and psychological attributes. So the treatment may differ from patient to patient depending upon their symptoms, body type, physical condition, psychological state, the extent of the disease, etc.
The homeopathic treatment is considered to be safer than its traditional counterpart as the ingredients used involve natural plants and minerals. So the risk of side effects is next to none.
If you are suffering from the symptoms of hypothyroidism, consulting a doctor at the earliest would be the best choice for you. It will help diagnose the condition and its primary cause in the early stages and treat it as soon as possible.