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Hypothyroidism And Its Effects
For someone suffering from hypothyroidism, life can be extremely difficult. The side effects are certainly ones that affect every day life but also can be hard to identify and connect to this disorder. Quite often people with this disorder will go to a doctor for advice on how they are feeling and depending on lifestyle and the patient’s history the doctor may request a blood test to rule out hypothyroidism.
Many more people have an under or over active thyroid and are not diagnosed. A doctor will sit down with their patient and ask a series of questions in regards to health, history and lifestyle. This makes it easier for the doctor to determine which symptoms may be caused by other external sources or genetics.
The thyroid gland is responsible for producing very important hormones. The role of these hormones is to keep the body functioning and running well. They assist in the speed that we burn energy and make proteins. They also affect many other parts of the body and its inner workings. When the thyroid gland produces too much of these hormones are called hyperthyroidism or over active thyroid. Too little, and it is known as hypothyroidism or under active thyroid gland.
When someone has hypothyroidism they may find that because of this lack of thyroid hormones they will feel run down, tired and exhausted. If this complete lack of energy is consistent and regardless of how much sleep they have been getting every night then it may be time to seek advice from a health professional. Other symptoms include very dry or flaky skin, brittle and weak nails, and hair that is also brittle and dry. Depression, muscle weakness and weight gain are also likely to be experienced.
When it comes to hypothyroidism, symptoms are different for everyone. A person may suffer from one or two or they may have all of them on a regular basis. Quite a few of these symptoms are life altering and cannot be ignored while others are more likely to be brushed off as simply being side effects to lifestyle choices. For example, a woman with dry skin and hair may decide she is not drinking enough water or out in the sun too much, when in actual fact she may be quite hydrated and still have these particular symptoms.
It is often recommended to women that they take pregnancy vitamins at the start of a pregnancy. One important vitamin one in regards to hypothyroidism is iodine. Usually in a western society, most people have enough in their system already but in third world countries and still seen in other places around the world babies can be born with hypothyroidism and this can severely affect their growth and development.
Side Effects of Hypothyroidism
Hypothyroidism is decreased levels of thyroid hormones and this slower downs the process of metabolism in body. Hypothyroidism, if left untreated may bring hazardous situations in the body. The disease is to be diagnosed and treated as early as possible. Any failure to this, will lead to complications in the body.
There are some well known side effects of hypothyroidism mentioned below.
This is one of the most common complications of hypothyroidism. There will be constant stimulation of thyroid by the pituitary gland to release more hormones during the condition of hypothyroidism. This extra effort will make gland larger than its normal size. This condition is known as goitre. This is nothing but the swelling of the gland which is visible on the neck. Large goitre may interfere with breathing and swallowing.
Hypothyroidism may turn into depression. This happens especially in early stage of hypothyroidism and may turn to more severe over times. Hypothyroidism brings sluggishness in the physique and also slower downs the functions of brain.
The condition hypothyroidism is also associated with increased risk of cardiac problem. The underactive thyroid may shoot up the levels of low-density lipoprotein i.e. LDL which is ‘bad’ cholesterol. It is seen even in subclinical hypothyroidism that the cholesterol levels get disturbed once a person is suffering from hypothyroidism. High cholesterol levels block the tiny arteries supplying blood to the heart and finally cause the heart attack. There is evidence of hypothyroidism leading to an enlarged heart and heart failure.
This is one of the most life-threatening diseases. Fortunately rare, the condition results after long time of undiagnosed hypothyroidism. This is dangerous and the symptoms include intense cold intolerance and giddiness followed by profound sluggishness or lethargy that finally leads to unconsciousness called as Myxedema Coma. The coma can worsen by sedatives, stress and other infections in the body. The condition requires immediate medical attention and is treated with intravenous thyroid injections under strict observation during hospitalization.
The babies born to women, who were not treated for hypothyroidism properly, may have increased risk of birth defects as compare to babies born to normal women. These babies are more susceptible to serious intellectual and development problems. Their milestones are delayed and some of the important milestones may be missed.
A pregnant lady with hypothyroidism delivers ‘still birth’ if left untreated. One of the most dangerous complications of hypothyroidism in pregnant lady is miscarriage. The thyroid levels are to be kept in normal positions throughout the pregnancy period in woman. It is always better to prevent hypothyroidism going into complications as once the disease progresses, it is quite difficult to treat and the process turns to irreversible situation.
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Side Effects of Hypothyroidism Medications
The thyroid is a small gland that actually has a great deal of control on how your body functions. It is responsible for the secretion of several hormones that are essential to the well-being of your body and health. When your thyroid is in good health, you will not be able to feel it at all. Should it not function the way it is supposed to, you will find a glandular swelling to be one of the first symptoms.
Those who suffer from hypothyroidism are often prescribed medication, such as levothyroxine. It basically works at replacing hormones that manage metabolism; this it does when the body is unable to do it on its own. Once these hormones are put in place, the body will be able to function on its own and continue with its natural processes without causing any other problems; but in most cases, this medication can be the cause of a range of side effects.
Levothyroxine Side Effects
Among the side effects of levothyroxine, one of the most common is an allergic reaction. This can manifest itself in several ways such, as a skin rash or even hives. You may find it difficult to breathe, and you may experience tightness in your chest.
In some cases, there is also a swelling of the mouth and face.
Listed above are the more common symptoms that are generally mild. There are a range of problems though that can be quite severe. These include various kinds of sleep disorders, painful headaches, a sudden fluctuation in weight and even hot flashes. For many women, their menstrual cycle goes haywire, and they experience a general restlessness. These more severe symptoms do not occur very often.
People who have suffered from cardiac issues or even an earlier thyroid problem will always have to consult their doctor on the safety of taking medication. There can be severe complications that arise when you take thyroid drugs while suffering from a heart condition, anaemia or any form of diabetes. There is whole list of drugs that cannot be taken along with thyroid medications, so make sure your doctor knows about any other prescriptions you are on. You will also need professional advice for such medication if you are pregnant.
How you use the medication too is extremely important, and you will have to use it in the manner prescribed. Never consider taking doses larger than what your doctor prescribes. In most cases, you will be instructed to take the medicine a half hour before a meal and with a whole glass of water. Picking up your prescription promptly, taking it as scheduled and in the correct manner may help you see results in a short while, but they are not something you can escape.
If you experience any of the symptoms mentioned above, it is important that you make an emergency appointment with your doctor and have your prescription altered. If you think you have taken more than you should, then seeking medical help immediately is important. These drugs must never be mistaken for recreational drugs.
Less common thyroid medication
There is another far less common thyroid medicine made from animal glands. It is more natural but its potency varies so it cannot always be relied upon. If you have the patience, you could ask your doctor about trying this one first. Some of its brand names are S-P-T, Armour Thyroid, Thyroid Strong and Thyrar.
There are a few other medications, but whether they work at all is under debate. There are a few common symptoms that can announce the onset of a side effect of hypothyroidism medications. Seek medical help if:
1. You have unexplained chest pain
2. If you notice that your heart is beating faster than usual
3. If you are regularly unable to sleep well
4. Symptoms such as feeling nauseated, having regular headaches or running a high temperature frequently should be checked
5. If you cannot handle a bit of heat, then your menstruation cycle may be haywire
6. If you find yourself constantly hungry and have unexplained weight loss
Natural treatments for hypothyroidism
Considering the several problems this medicine can cause and the amount of care that needs to be taken to prevent the side effects of hypothyroidism medications, many people have turned to a more natural form of healing for hypothyroidism. There are several forms of natural medication that one can take to manage hypothyroidism.
There are several naturopaths who are certified to treat you for this condition. The only thing you will have to do is find a reliable practitioner who assures you that he is able to assess your condition and prescribe a treatment plan that will make a difference.
Acupuncture, homeopathy and Chinese medicine also offer natural treatment for thyroid problems. These forms of healing are becoming more common, so it might not be too hard to find a specialist near you.
Today, with several medical practitioners touting the benefits of integrative medicine, one can even merge natural medicinal methods with the more conventional scientific ones. There is a lot of data that confirms that this has been beneficial in several cases.
Thyroid Effects On Fertility
Thyroid disease can be a cause for infertility if it is not discovered and goes untreated. If you have not made an appointment with your doctor to be tested for a thyroid problem, then consider the following:
When you get this test, make sure you know your thyroid stimulating hormone level (or TSH level) when the test is concluded. This is important. You need more than just a result that says you are within normal parameters. The normal range is considered to be somewhere between 0.5 and 5.5. TSH over 5.5 indicates an underactive thyroid gland or hypothyroidism. A TSH under 0.5 signifies hyperthyroid or an overactive thyroid gland. Endocrinologists are in disagreement about the normal range should be.
Some endocrinologists with great experience in this field believe that most women are not at a normal level unless their TSH level reads between 1 and 2, which most endocrinologists consider quite low. Some of these experts also believe that a female that has developed any indication of thyroid disease cannot get pregnant or remain pregnant at a TSH that is higher than 2. Statistics have proven that women can sustain a successful pregnancy at a TSH level falling between 1 and 2.
Be sure to get your exact TSH level and find an endocrinologist with a great deal of experience and a good success rate working with thyroid-related infertility.
There is a huge benefit to getting antibodies tested especially in someone experiencing infertility or suffering recurrent miscarriage, especially if TSH levels have been checked, and have been found to be middle or high normal. Antibodies can show if the thyroid is in the process of autoimmune failure. This alone could be all it takes to affect the fertility or ability to maintain pregnancy for a full term.
There is already evidence that indicates how antibody level can have an adverse effect on fertility and a healthy pregnancy maintained to full term. There are experts that state the existence of thyroid antibodies as being just cause for treatment with very limited amounts of thyroid hormone. They feel this is the best approach to take especially when a woman trying to get pregnant. It always helps to get another opinion from knowledgeable endocrinologists and those that share the same view.
One case study reported a connection between immunologic complications and infertility. Based on this study it was observed that a rather large increase in IVF birth rates occurred in women who had tested positive for anti phosphor lipid antibodies or APAs. The same was true for women who had tested positive for anti thyroid antibodies or ATAs. The two above situations occurred when small doses of heparin, which is an anti blood clotting agent and aspirin with or without intravenous immunoglobulin G were administered.
In another research study, experts observed that the IVF failure also occurred in women who produced antibodies to their thyroid glands whether there were clinical indications of an underactive thyroid function (hypothyroidism) or not. Many women manifest with ATAs, especially if it runs in the family.
“The observance of ATAs is connected to several symptoms of less than optimal reproductive performance ranging from infertility and miscarriage to prematurity and intrauterine growth retardation. In the worse case scenarios where there is late pregnancy, even foetal death. These complications can exist even when there are no clinical signs or symptoms of hypothyroidism.
If thyroid disease goes undiagnosed and untreated, it can lead to infertility or recurrent miscarriage. Have you been tested for a thyroid problem? If not consider the following:
1. The first thing you want to do is ask your doctor for a thyroid stimulating hormone test or what is commonly referred to as a TSH test. It should include a full panel of thyroid levels including Free Thyroxin and thyroid antibodies.
2. Remember to get the actual numerical result for the TSH level, not just the descriptive result such as “normal”. The complete answer should include the numerical value.
3. Always observe your TSH level. For most laboratories, the normal range is considered to be somewhere between 0.5 to 5.5, However, some endocrinologists feel that a woman that has developed thyroid disease can have complications in her pregnancy or even in trying to get pregnant if her TSH level is higher than 2.0.
4. If have what is considered a “high-normal” TSH with or without elevated antibodies your doctor may not want to treat you. In such a case you will need to find an endocrinologist with a good track record in working with thyroid-related infertility.
5. Check to be sure you are ovulating. You can do this by using an ovulation predictor.
Free T3 and Free T4 level tests are known to be the only accurate way to measure actual active thyroid hormone levels in the bloodstream.
While using free hormone levels, the patient will find that when thyroid stimulating hormone or TSH is within the normal range T3 and T4 will be lower than normal. This also holds true when TSH is found to be at the lower end of the normal range. Patients with these types of lab results improve greatly after treatment with a decline in hypothyroid symptoms.
Sabyasachi Rakshit is involved in healthcare market research since 2010. He loves to write about various healthcare topics such as herbal medicines, alternative health etc.