What is hypothyroidism?
Hypothyroidism is a condition that is developed when the body does not possess a sufficient amount of a certain hormone, called the thyroid hormone. The main function of the thyroid hormone is to help the metabolism of the body run smoothly, so the people who are affected by hypothyroidism have a slower metabolism naturally.
This disease has become commonly prevalent in the population of the whole world today. A lot of people are affected by hypothyroidism, nowadays.
What causes hypothyroidism?
The two main hypothyroidism causes are:
- Inflammation of the thyroid gland
When the thyroid gland is already inflamed due to one reason or another, a lot of the cells of the thyroid glands become harmed and dead. So, the produced hormone by the thyroid gland ends up not being enough for the body; this leads to what is hypothyroidism disease. This is also called the failure of the thyroid gland, and it mostly occurs due to autoimmune thyroiditis1. This thyroid condition occurs when the own body of the affected patient reacts in the way that causes inflammation of the thyroid gland.
- Medical Treatments
In order to treat the conditions relating to the thyroid in the body, the treatments often involve removal of some part of the thyroid glands. Due to this, the thyroid gland becomes smaller and its capacity to produce sufficient thyroid hormone decreases. This results in the condition of hypothyroidism as well. Remember, sometimes doctors aim to reduce the size of the thyroid glands. It depends on what the condition of the patient is to determine if the removal will be in favor of or against the health of the patient.
Another reason behind the development of hypothyroidism is the treatment of hyperthyroidism (overactivity of the thyroid gland). In the condition of hyperthyroidism, the thyroid glands of the patient produce too much of the thyroid hormone. So, in order to treat this condition, the thyroid gland is reduced in size with radioactive treatments. Often times, with these radioactive treatments doctors end up reducing the size of the thyroid gland more than they should. So, the patient goes from being a patient of hyperthyroidism to hypothyroidism.
Sometimes hypothyroidism is also called due to inactivity of the pituitary gland. This is a very rare condition. In this condition, the thyroid glands are totally normal in size and are working well on their own, but cannot produce enough of the thyroid hormone because of some problem in the pituitary gland, because the pituitary gland also plays a role in the formation of the thyroid hormone.
Symptoms of Hypothyroidism
Given below are the signs of hypothyroidism disease
- Weight gain or increased difficulty losing weight
- Coarse, dry hair
- Dry, rough pale skin
- Hair loss
- Cold intolerance (you can't tolerate cold temperatures like those around you)
- Muscle cramps and frequent muscle aches
- Memory loss
- Abnormal menstrual cycles
- Decreased libido
These symptoms show in different combinations in different patients. For some patients, all of these symptoms will be available to signify the presence of the condition of hypothyroidism. For other patients, only some of these symptoms will show. For yet some other patients, these symptoms might show in a combination.
For some patients, one of these hypothyroidism symptoms may be the most problematic, yet for another patient of hypothyroidism, the symptom may not be available at all. For some patients, there are no symptoms shown by the body to indicate that the person is suffering from hypothyroidism. What symptoms are shown by the body depends on the body of the patients.
Treatment of Hypothyroidism
It is easy to treat hypothyroidism. The easiest way to treat and the only way to treat it is with thyroid hormone pill called Levothyroxine. This pill is usually taken once a day. It helps in excretion of more thyroid hormone than the hypothyroidism patient’s thyroid gland produces. This medication has different doses. The patient must take the dose that is prescribed by the doctor because the doses vary in strength. If the patient’s hypothyroidism is very serious and only a very little amount of the hormone is produced, they need to take a strong dose of this medication. This treatment has to be continued for the whole remaining life of the patient.
Along with this treatment, the affected patients need some modifications in their lifestyle as well, like
- They need to avoid cold weather
- Their diet must be fat-free
- Their bodies should be kept warm always
- They should exercise daily to keep their body fit
These are the recommended modifications in the lifestyles of people that can lead to living an easier life for the patients. Hypothyroidism is not curable, only treatable. So the modifications and the treatment need to continue for as long as the patient lives. Some patients stop taking their medications or precautionary measures after one or two weeks of taking the medication because they see a reduction in their symptoms. This is a big mistake that must be avoided at all costs. It is necessary for the patient to continue taking medication until the end.
The dose must be taken in the correct amount. Too little a dose would not work fine to treat hypothyroidism and too much a dose causes palpitations2, nervousness, and insomnia in the patients. Too much of the hypothyroid hormone can also result in the loss of calcium from the body.
For people who have heart problems, an incorrect or excessive dose of this medication can worsen up the heart conditions and might result in speeding up of the heart attack.
- WebMD - What is Autoimmune Thyroiditis?
- WebMD - Heart Palpitations