Hypothyroidism

What is Hypothyroidism?

The human body is made up of many organs, glands, nerves, and tissues that perform to keep our body in a healthy condition. The thyroid glands is a ductless endocrine gland that secretes hormones directly into the blood. Two types of hormones are produced by thyroid gland - Thyroxine T4 AND Triiodothyronine T3.  Together, these two hormones are known as thyroid hormones.  Any abnormalities in the thyroid glands and its hormones lead to health issues. These hormones help to burn calories and regulate the heart rate. Here, we will study about hypothyroidism hormone. In addition, we shall also learn about the precautions for hypothyroidism, if one faces health conditions.

You know by now that the thyroid is a butterfly-shaped endocrine gland (secreting hormones directly into the blood) in your neck. It makes and secretes two hormones directly into the blood- thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3). These hormones are essential for all cells in the body to function normally.   The thyroid gland also secretes a protein hormone called thyrocalcitonin or TCT. This hormone is responsible for regulating calcium levels in the blood. It is essential to have a balanced metabolism in the body to keep it fit and healthy. Fig.1

(Image to be added soon)

Sometimes, there may be an imbalance in the metabolism. Note that to have a balanced metabolism, a balanced secretion of thyroid hormone is vital. The balance in the flow of thyroid hormones sometimes sees an impairment. This impairment can lead to overproduction or underproduction of hormones. When the thyroid produces more hormones, it leads to hyperthyroidism. When there is less production or underproduction, the condition is known as hypothyroidism.


Hypothyroidism  

Hypothyroidism is a condition when the thyroid gland does not produce enough thyroid hormones to meet the needs of the body. In other words, we can say that the thyroid gland becomes underactive. The opposite of hypothyroidism is hyperthyroidism- a situation where the thyroid gland is overactive. It is important to note that there is a link between hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism and it is complex- one can lead to the other, in some circumstances. 

(Image to be added soon)

Causes of Hypothyroidism 

Thyroid hormones regulate the rate of metabolism in our body. Or, we can say that it shows the way how our body uses energy. If the production of thyroxine levels are low in the body, many of the functions in the body slow down.  Let us know about some causes that lead the thyroid gland to under-produce the all-too vital thyroxine hormone. Some of the common causes of hypothyroidism are:

  • Some types of medications. 

  • Severe deficiency in Iodine

  • Hashimoto’s thyroiditis 

  • Any disorders in the pituitary gland.  

  • Exposure of neck area to radiations. 

  • Removal or damage to the thyroid gland by surgery. 


Symptoms of Hypothyroidism

The symptoms in case of hypothyroidism may depend upon the severity. In most cases, the symptoms may differ from person to person. The signs and the symptoms also depend upon the level of the hormonal deficiency. When the thyroid gland is underactive or produces less hormone, the situation can slow down other activities of the body. It is difficult to initially realise the condition of hypothyroidism. With time, as the metabolism or the use of energy slows down, prominent signs and symptoms emerge. Here are a few symptoms of hypothyroidism to look out for:

1 – Fatigue or tiredness 

2 – High cholesterol along with weight gain. 

3 – Problems with memory. 

4 – A dull, pale, and coarse skin. 

5 – Dry hair and hair loss. 

6 – Frequent constipation issues 

7 – Abnormal menstrual cycles 

8 – Depression and irritability 

9 – Excess sleep and lack of energy. 

10 – Muscle cramps 


Treatment for Hypothyroidism 

There is no permanent cure for this condition. However, medications and lifelong therapies work. Specific drugs work and are useful in controlling the imbalance by replacing the levels of T4 and T3 hormones.  Some thyroid supplements are available to treat this underproduction.  The doctors typically check the age, causes, and hormone levels before they can prescribe any medications.

Along with the treatment, it is essential to follow some precautions and adopt lifestyle changes to address the issue. Regular testing also helps. Some changes and measures include having a balanced diet, regular exercise, walking, and weight loss programs. Plus, quitting smoking habits and cutting down on consumption of alcohol, and drinking lots of water.

FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

1. What Are The Symptoms Of Hypothyroidism In Women And Children?

The symptoms of hypothyroidism are – tiredness, weight gain, slow heart rate, joint and muscle pain, and constipation. The physical signs also include dry skin, thin, brittle hair or fingernails, a feeling of pins and needles, heavy periods or menorrhagia. Additional symptoms include insomnia, balance and co-ordination issues, loss of sex drive, recurrent urinary and respiratory tract infections anaemia, and depression.  If left untreated, it can even lead to hoarseness, puffiness in the face, thinned or missing eyebrows, slow heart rate, and hearing loss.  In children, some of the symptoms are same, but they may experience weak growth, late development of teeth, and delayed puberty.

2. Does The Inclusion Of Iodine In The Diet Help Counter Hypothyroidism?

There is a connection between iodine deficiency and hypothyroidism. It is a crucial mineral for efficient thyroid function. Iodine deficiency is the leading cause for Goitre or the abnormal enlargement of the thyroid gland. It helps to maintain adequate levels of Iodine for most people. Those individuals with autoimmune thyroid disease can be sensitive to the effects of Iodine. It means that Iodine can worsen the condition of hypothyroidism. They must consult their doctor if they are vulnerable to iodine effects. Diet can change how the body absorbs thyroid by medications.  Using iodized salt in diet and vitamins can help maintain levels.