Your thyroid gland is responsible for supplying hormones that keep your metabolism running at an optimum level.
When these hormones are not produced in the quantities needed, they can’t be distributed to the rest of your body, which results in an inability to function properly. Hypothyroidism is more common among adults, although children can get it as well.
Advanced Hypothyroidism Can Be Deadly
Advanced hypothyroidism, or Myxedema, is a life-threatening but rare condition that can occur with long term, undiagnosed hypothyroidism. Women are six times more likely to suffer from myxedema than men are, although it’s not clear why.
There are 3 main hormones that are produced by the thyroid gland:
- T-4 or Thyroxine
- T-3 or Triiodothyronine
T-3 and T-4 are responsible for maintaining the rate at which we utilize fats and carbohydrates. They also play an important role in our heart rates and protein synthesis. Calcitonin regulates the production of calcium in the blood.
The part of the brain that is in charge of body temperature, thirst, hunger gland is called the hypothalamus. Together, with the pituitary gland, they work to control the release of the hormones T-3 and T-4.
Causes of Hypothyroidism
Overtreatment of an overactive thyroid condition via radiation or surgery Thyroiditis, which is an autoimmune inflammation of the thyroid gland
An iodine deficiency could result in reduced production of thyroid hormones, Lithium, Pituitary gland disorder, and pregnancy.
Risk Factors for Hypothyroidism
There are certain risk factors that could raise the chances of suffering from this condition. Among them are:
- Being a female over the age of 50
- Being treated with anti-thyroid drugs or radioactive iodine
- Anyone over 60 years of age, male or female
- Anyone who has a close family member who suffers from an autoimmune disease Radiation exposure
- A Thyroidectomise is partial removal of the thyroid by surgical methods
Signs and Symptoms of Hypothyroidism
The most common signs of hypothyroidism are lethargy and fatigue. Most symptoms will take years to develop and if left untreated can become quite severe and can include depression, slow thought processes and an inflamed thyroid.
Some of the more common symptoms include:
- Dry, itchy skin
- Bloated face
- Weight gain
- Hoarse voice
- Sensitivity to cold
- Frail fingernails
- Muscle weakness
- Stiff or swollen joints
- High blood cholesterol levels
How Hypothyroidism is Diagnosed
Many doctors recommend that women be screen annually for this condition. They will ask patients if they’ve experienced any of the above symptoms and a blood test may be performed.
Pregnant women are also tested for this condition, and steps are taken to protect the foetus in case of a positive diagnosis.
Treatment for Hypothyroidism
There are several treatment options available for this condition, including a supplement known as levothyroxine. This is a synthetic thyroid hormone that helps increase T-4 levels. This supplement has no side effects and is relatively inexpensive compared to other drugs. Patients on this supplement will likely need to continue for the rest of their lives, adjusting the dosage as needed and as recommended by their doctor.
Hyperthyroidism, also called overactive thyroid, is a disorder where the thyroid gland over-produces thyroid hormones. This can occur as an acute condition (happening over a short period of time) or a chronic condition (continuing over a long period of time). The condition affects about 2 out of every 1,000 women between the ages of 20-40 years old, which is 10 times the rate of incidence among men.
The most common cause of hyperthyroidism is Graves’s disease, which is an autoimmune disorder. For unknown reasons, the body begins attacking the thyroid gland resulting in increased production of thyroid hormones. Other causes of hyperthyroidism include:
- Overconsumption of iodine
- Inflammation of the thyroid gland
- Swollen thyroid
- Noncancerous growths on the pituitary or thyroid gland
- Tumour on the ovaries or testes
- Overdose of thyroid hormones
- Certain medications such as the anti-arrhythmic drug amiodarone
Symptoms of Hyperthyroidism
Unlike hypothyroidism, symptoms of hyperthyroidism are readily apparent. However, the condition does share several symptoms with low thyroid and lab tests will generally need to be conducted to determine which disorder you are suffering from. Signs of hyperthyroidism include: * Fatigue
- Difficulty concentrating
- Menstrual irregularities
- Hair loss
- High blood pressure
- Nervousness and restlessness
- Weight loss (occasionally weight gain)
- Increased appetite
- Heat intolerance and increased sweating
- Frequent bowel movements including diarrhoea
- Nausea or vomiting
- Rapid, irregular, or forceful heartbeat
- Clammy skin
- Eyelid retraction
Left untreated, hyperthyroidism can cause several medical complications to arise. The most common is thyrotoxicosis (thyroid crisis) in which the symptoms of hyperthyroidism suddenly worsen, possibly due to stress or infection. Symptoms include abdominal pain, fever, and decreased mental alertness. A person with this condition requires immediate medical attention.
Other complications related to untreated hyperthyroidism include rapid heart rate, congestive heart failure, increased risk for osteoporosis, and nerve damage to the voice box.
Hyperthyroidism may be treated in couple of different ways depending on the cause. Typically, the person will be prescribed anti-thyroid medications like carbimazole. Another treatment option is radioactive iodine which is typically given to older patients. Both of these treatments can cause serious side effects including hypothyroidism. A last resort option is surgery to remove the thyroid, particularly if goitre has formed.
A healthy thyroid is essential to your overall health and wellness. If your treatment for hyperthyroidism has led to the onset of hypothyroidism, read our hypothyroidism treatment reviews to find all-natural products that can improve your thyroid health without the harmful side effects.
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.