Hypothyroidism is one of the chronic diseases in the world. Hypothyroidism is also known as underactive thyroid; hypo means under or below normal. As we all know, the thyroid gland is the one responsible for regulating the metabolic processes in our body. Hypothyroidism happens when the thyroid gland fails to produce or secrete thyroxine, also known as T4. Our body needs thyroxine. These hormones that are produced or secreted in our body are the ones responsible for the regulation of some essential functions such as heart rate, physical growth, digestion and mental development.
When the body experiences insufficient supply of thyroxine, body functions will slow down and may eventually lead to general symptoms such as loss of energy, fatigue, memory problems and dry skin. This can also damage organs and tissues in every part of the body and may eventually lead to life threatening complications.
Hypothyroidism is known to be at least twice as common in women as it is in men. It is most common in middle-aged or older women. This disease can also occur at any age. There are some factors that need to be considered which increase a person’s risk to develop hypothyroidism. These factors include age, weight and medical history. Women normally suffer from this disease after 50. As for men, they normally experience hypothyroidism after 60. One is more susceptible to hypothyroidism if there is a family history of thyroid problems or a personal history of high cholesterol levels.
Symptoms may not appear for years until the thyroid stops functioning. Symptoms of hypothyroidism are also commonly mistaken as symptoms for other illnesses such as menopause and aging. This condition is known to affect millions of people. Two out of three people are said to be suffering from this condition without them knowing that they are actually suffering from hypothyroidism.
When the body fails to get enough thyroid hormones, the body’s processes start to slow down. This happens when the thyroid gland fails to produce adequate thyroid hormones or thyroxine. One is expected to suffer from hypothyroidism when the thyroid hormone levels are too low. When one’s body functions slow down, one will then notice that they feel colder than usual, easily get exhausted and their skin is getting drier each day. Some also suffer from becoming forgetful and depressed and even start to get constipated.
For some people, they are not aware of having this condition and can’t feel any changes in the body. Symptoms will be more severe the longer and the lower thyroid hormones levels are. Sub clinical hyperthyroidism may cause mild symptoms or even none at all. Until now, no one can tell exactly the symptoms one will undergo when a person develops hypothyroidism.
Most people are very ill when they learn their diagnosis. As for some, even if their blood tests show that they are suffering from hypothyroidism, they only suffer from a few symptoms or even none at all. The symptoms of a person suffering from hypothyroidism varies. The only way to determine if you have hypothyroidism is through blood tests.
Hypothyroidism Symptoms Checklist
Most people refer to hypothyroidism as the “silent disease” since one can go on living life without even knowing they are suffering from hypothyroidism. Early symptoms would be from mild to nothing at all. Symptoms become more noticeable and severe once hypothyroidism is left untreated. This may eventually lead to confusion and mental disorders, breathing difficulties, heart problems, fluctuation of the body temperature and even death.
Below is a checklist of what a person who has hypothyroidism normally feels. These are possible signs and symptoms of hypothyroidism.
- Swollen eyelids
- Irregular menstrual periods
- Hoarse voice
- Problems with memory and concentration
- Goiter (enlarged thyroid gland)
- Muscle pain or Weakness
- Loss of interest in sex
- Decreased heart rate
- Progressive hearing loss
- Weight gain
- Numb, tingling hands
- Dry skin
- Dryness, loss, or premature graying of hair
- Extreme sensitivity to cold
If one is able to feel the above-mentioned symptoms, it is best to go see a doctor to be treated. Again, if hypothyroidism is left untreated, the symptoms become more severe. Go see a doctor and have yourself checked. After all, prevention is still better than cure. Hypothyroidism if left untreated and diagnosed may also result to myxedema. Myxedema is a disease caused by the decreased activity of the thyroid gland.
Interesting Questions about Thyroid:
How does radioactive iodine work?
The thyroid gland absorbs iodine from the blood. When radioactive iodine enters your thyroid, it slowly shrinks the gland over a period of weeks or months.
The treatment is safe, simple, convenient, and inexpensive. It is usually given only once, rarely causes any pain or swelling, and does not increase the risk of cancer. However, it must be avoided during pregnancy or nursing, and patients should not become pregnant for at least six months after treatment.
When is radioactive iodine used?
Radioactive iodine is the most common treatment for hyperthyroidism. It does not require hospitalization. About 90% of patients need only one treatment. They usually start getting better in three to six weeks, and most are cured within six months.
This treatment may also be used after surgery for certain thyroid cancers. Radioactive iodine dissolves any cancerous tissue that could not be removed by surgery. The dose of radioactive iodine is larger in this case, and patients usually stay in the hospital for a day or two.
What can be expected with radioactive iodine treatment for hyperthyroidism?
- It is usually given in liquid form or as a capsule. The dose can range from 4 to 29 millicuries.
- It is tasteless.
- There are almost never any side effects. In some rare cases, there can be an inflammation of the thyroid gland causing a sore throat and discomfort.
- Radioactive iodine not taken up by the thyroid gland is excreted in urine and saliva. There is no evidence that the small amount of I131 excreted in the urine and saliva is harmful. Nonetheless, prudent nuclear medicine experts have recommended a wide variety of precautions. While these recommendations are sometimes confusing and inconsistent, it may be appropriate to take a few simple measures to avoid unnecessary exposure of infants and children to I131. Treated patients should rinse out their glasses or cups and eating utensils immediately after drinking and eating. The toilet should be flushed immediately after use, and the rim of the bowl should be wiped dry, if necessary.
- It is advisable to drink two to three extra glasses of water a day during the four- to seven- day period following radioactive treatment so that radioactive material will not collect in the bladder for a long period of time.
- Because radioactive iodine passes into breast milk, breast feeding mothers are asked to wean their babies before treatment.
- It typically takes six weeks before thyroid hormone production is noticeably reduced. The average length of time for the thyroid hormone levels to become normal is about three to four months. If thyroid levels are not considerably reduced six months after treatment, the doctor might suggest repeating the treatment. Ninety percent of the time only one treatment is required; however, it might take as many as three attempts. The patient could be advised to take beta-blocking drugs and other medications the doctor believes are necessary until normal thyroid hormone production is restored.
- Many patients treated with radioactive iodine become hypothyroid. This may happen within weeks, months, or years of treatment. Therefore, patients should be aware of the signs and symptoms of hypothyroidism, and their physicians should monitor their thyroid hormone levels regularly. When the patient becomes hypothyroid, thyroid hormone replacement begins and continues for life-one pill a day.
When are beta-blocking drugs used?
Beta-blocking drugs, also called beta blockers, treat the symptoms of hyperthyroidism. They do not significantly affect the gland or the levels of thyroid hormones in the blood. Instead, they “block” the effects of thyroid hormones.
Beta blockers are most useful for patients whose hyperthyroidism makes them uncomfortable. High hormone levels can cause a faster heart rate and trembling. Beta-blocking drugs help control these symptoms.
Beta-blocking drugs should not be used by patients with asthma.
When is surgery performed?
Surgery (thyroidectomy) is the primary treatment for suspected thyroid cancer and can be used to treat hyperthyroidism. Surgery is used to remove large goiters that make breathing or swallowing difficult. Occasionally, a goiter may be removed for cosmetic reasons.Can you tell me more about cancer surgery?
If thyroid cancer is suspected, your doctor will recommend surgery. The surgeon usually removes only one lobe of the thyroid, unless cancer is confirmed at surgery. A section of the gland is tested during surgery (frozen section) to tell the surgeon whether it is cancerous (malignant) or not cancerous (benign). If it is malignant, all or most of the thyroid is removed. If the cancer has spread outside of the thyroid, lymph nodes in the neck may also have to be removed. In addition, radioactive iodine therapy may be needed six weeks after surgery to destroy any remaining cancer tissue.
How is the cancer surgery operation done?
The operation is usually performed under general anesthesia and takes about two hours. After surgery, patients may stay in the hospital for up to three days. They may also need to take some time off from work (a week or two for a desk job and three to four weeks for physical labor).
Are there any risks to thyroid surgery?
Thyroid surgery is a safe treatment. However, as with any surgery, there are risks. About 1% of patients develop problems with normal speech caused by damage to nerves leading to the voice box, which lies very close to the thyroid. Occasionally, there may be damage to the parathyroid glands, which control the level of calcium in the blood. If this happens, the patient will need to take calcium and other medicines to prevent future problems. Minor risks of surgery include infection, bleeding, and a scar. The chance of death is very small.
What can be expected with thyroid surgery?
- Patients will be in the hospital for one to three days.
- Surgery is usually done under general anesthesia and lasts about two hours.
- A small cut approximately three to four inches long is made along the natural crease of the neck.
- After going to the recovery room for a few hours, patients are returned to their rooms. Patients can usually get out of bed, eat, and have visitors the evening of the surgery.
- It can take up to a year for the scar to heal and the redness to disappear.
- Because most of the thyroid gland is removed, some patients will have to begin lifelong thyroid hormone replacement.
What are the possible complications of thyroid surgery?
- The four parathyroid glands located around the thyroid gland can be accidentally damaged causing low calcium levels that can lead to muscle spasms, convulsions, and the formation of cataracts, if untreated.
- Minor voice changes are not uncommon, but only 1% of those operated on have major voice problems. The nerves from the larynx (voice box) are very near the thyroid gland and sometimes pass through the gland. It is sometimes unavoidable that they are damaged during surgery.
- As with any surgery, there is the risk of surgical death, bleeding, and infection.
Have more questions? Need more answers? Check our Full Thyroid FAQ
It is best to go see a doctor if you have unexpectedly experienced hypothyroidism symptoms, a doctor who treats hypothyroidism based on symptoms not the disease as a whole. Unfortunately hypothyroidism can’t be cured. No one is still able to determine how to make the thyroid gland work normally again. One is advised to follow their daily treatment religiously. Hypothyroidism may be treated by replacing the amount of thyroid hormones that the body needs to function as it should. If the thyroid hormones needed by the body can be put back to their normal levels one can prevent the symptoms, thus controlling hypothyroidism.
Normally, natural or synthetic thyroid hormones are prescribed to a person who has hypothyroidism to restore the hypothyroid hormone levels. However, it takes several months to completely determine the dosage of either synthetic or natural thyroid hormones one should be given. Your doctor will prescribe the right medication for you. It is not advised to switch your medication without your doctor’s permission. A regular diet and eating high-fibre foods can also help maintain thyroid gland function and prevents one from having constipation.
Congenital Hypothyroidism means a new born baby who suffers from hypothyroidism. Thyroid hormones are essential in a woman’s pregnancy. It helps the brain develop normally. During the first stage of pregnancy the mother supplies thyroid hormones to the fetus until such time as the fetus thyroid gland can secrete and develop thyroid hormones on its own. Once the babies are born, they are then dependent to their own thyroid gland.
Not having enough thyroid hormones hinders the brain from developing normally. If a pregnant woman has hypothyroidism and is left untreated and undiagnosed, she cannot provide enough thyroid hormones to her baby, putting her baby’s brain development at risk. Her baby who has an active thyroid gland will have a lower IQ than the way it should have been. If a baby is diagnosed to be hypothyroid, the baby cannot develop thyroid hormones before and after birth. Babies that have hypothyroidism that are left untreated before birth until three years old have a very high risk of being mentally retarded. Severe hypothyroidism in babies if left untreated hinders brain development and physical growth or cretinism.
Thyroid FAQ & Links to Related Articles
|There are four parathyroid glands that are normally having the size of a single rice grain. In some normal cases, they can be as big as the size of a pea.|
|Also called underactive thyroid, hypothyroidism is a disorder that is characterized by abnormal level of thyroid hormones in the body, which is too low.|
|The thyroid is a butterfly (pear)-shaped gland, it consists of 2 symmetrical lobes joined by a central isthmus that normally covers the 2nd & 3rd tracheal rings.|
|Congenital hypothyroidism is a thyroid gland disorder that may lead to deafness or mental retardation if left undetected.|
|Hypothyroidism can cause depression. Most people don?t realize that this feeling is depression caused by the thyroid gland not functioning as it should.|
|Papillary thyroid cancer is one of the thyroid cancer types. This type of thyroid cancer arises from the follicles in the thyroid gland.|
|The thyroid gland is located immediately below the larynx on each side of and anterior to the trachea. It is one of the largest of the endocrine glands|
|These thyroid hormones are responsible in regulating the body?s metabolism, which is how much food will be broken down into useful energy for consumption.|
|When the thyroid gland produces too much thyroid hormone, one may suffer from hyperthyroidism.|
|The thyroid stimulating hormone is produced by the pituitary gland. The thyroid stimulating hormone promotes the growth of the thyroid gland.|
|Thyroid hormones are chemical substances produced by the thyroid gland. The thyroid gland is located in the front of the neck.|
|Natural thyroid supplements are helpful as a remedy to thyroid disorders. Its natural ingredients assure one of its safeties in taking it.|
|The thyroid gland is an endocrine gland that is the primary responsible in regulating the body?s metabolism.|
|Thyroid surgery is used to treat people with thyroid problems such as thyroid cancer, thyroid nodules and hyperthyroidism.|
|Thyroid tests or thyroid function tests are done to check the thyroid function in one?s body. A doctor will be able to determine and diagnose the thyroid disorder.|
|Treatment for thyroid disorders should be done to prevent unwanted results caused by the severity of the condition. Consult a physician for more of these treatments.|
|Thyroidectomy is a surgical process wherein the whole or a part of the thyroid gland is removed. This surgical process is used to treat thyroid disorders.|
|Having an underactive thyroid is a minor problem but it seeks proper attention to avoid further health problems. Consult a physician about any thyroid problem.|
|Low thyroid, also known as hypothyroidism, is a condition where the thyroid gland is under active.|
|Following a healthy meal plan, exercise and proper medication goes hand in hand to treat hypothyroidism. Consult a physician for a more individualized plan.|
|Each thyroid cancer treatment depends on the type of thyroid cancer and the extent or stage of the thyroid cancer one is suffering from.|
|Parathyroid hormones are considered to be the most important endocrine regulator. It basically regulates the calcium and phosphorus concentration in the body.|
|Studies show that since 1925, the standard treatment for parathyroid disease is to surgically remove the parathyroid gland(s) which are overproducing parathyroid hormones.|
|Parathyroid adenoma is a small tumor of the parathyroid gland and is known to be the most common disorder of the gland.|
|Medullary thyroid cancer is one of the types of thyroid cancer. This type of thyroid cancer is more common in women than in men.|
|Most people don?t feel any symptoms. Others can just lose weight and just feel depressed for no reason at all.|
|Suppose you go in for a routine checkup and your doctor decides to test your thyroid function. You?ve experienced no thyroid disease symptoms|
|Hypothyroidism develops for over a long period of time. It?s normally from several months to even several years.|
|People who are suffering from hypothyroidism are advised to get plenty of exercise and have a balanced and healthy diet. The diet must be rich in protein and iodine.|
|Self medicating one’s thyroid disorder with hypothyroidism diet pills without proper information of the diet pill does not address the problem.|
|Hyperthyroidism is when the thyroid gland is overactive and produces too much thyroid hormones more than the body needs.|
|Hypothyroidism is one of the chronic diseases in the world. Hypothyroidism is also known as underactive thyroid; hypo means under or below normal.|
|Anaplastic thyroid cancer is a type of thyroid cancer that is rare and aggressive. It affects the thyroid gland and most especially its function.|
|Problems arise if the thyroid gland is overactive or underactive. There are three common thyroid disorders. These are hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism and the thyroid nodules.|
|Hair loss may happen for so many reasons but it is commonly associated to thyroid problems such as hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism.|
|Thyroid Function Tests are the different tests conducted to assess and determine the cause of an individual?s thyroid problems.|