Hypothyroidism is caused by low hormone production in the thyroid gland. Some disorders can lead to hypothyroidism. They may involve your thyroid gland, either directly or indirectly. Hypothyroidism causes a slowing down of the body’s metabolic rate and you’ll need help from a physician to get back on track.
Thyroid hormones affect cellular processes, along with growth and development, so a thyroid gland that is under-producing can have serious ramifications for your whole body.
What are Thyroid Hormones
Thyroid hormones are, of course, those produced by your thyroid gland. The gland is found in the lower part of your neck. This gland uses iodine, usually from the foods you eat, to produce proper levels of thyroid hormones.
You may find that hypothyroidism symptoms are subtle. They can look like the symptoms of many other health conditions. They may even be attributed to aging.
If your hypothyroidism is mild, you may have no symptoms. They will become more easily seen as your condition worsens. Most of these signs are related to the slowing down of your metabolism.
Common symptoms of hypothyroidism include:
- Intolerance of cold
- Modest weight gain
- Coarse, dry hair
- Dry skin
- Excessive sleepiness
- High cholesterol levels
- Muscle cramps
- Aches and pains
- Leg swelling
- Decreased levels of concentration
As this disease increases in its severity, you may also experience lowered body temperature, a slowing heart rate, puffiness around your eyes and heart failure. The most severe form of hypothyroidism can lead to coma and even death, according to MedicineNet.
If your thyroid is severely under-producing, a coma may be triggered by traumatic injury, stress, surgery or a severe illness. In this situation hospitalisation will be needed for acute management.
Treatment of Hypothyroidism
Hypothyroidism, if properly diagnosed, can be fully treated with replacement thyroid hormones. Left untreated, it can lead to fluid accumulation around the lungs, an enlarged heart and worsening heart failure.
Man-made synthetic hormones are most often used for the management of hypothyroidism, states WebMD. Once your treatments have begun, you will need to schedule regular appointments with your physician to make sure the dosage is correct.
Symptoms of hypothyroidism usually begin to improve within days of the onset of treatment. All of your symptoms should be gone within several months. Children and infants who have hypothyroidism must always receive treatment. People in poor general health and older adults sometimes take a longer time period to respond to the medications.
If you have had your thyroid gland removed or have been treated with radiation and develop hypothyroidism, you will usually need treatment for the remainder of your life. The same is true if your condition was caused by Hashimoto’s thyroiditis.
If your hypothyroidism was triggered by a serious infection or illness, your thyroid levels will probably return to normal after you have recovered.
Some medications can cause hypothyroidism. If this is the case, your thyroid hormone production should return to normal when you stop taking those medications.
Mild cases of hypothyroidism may not initially need treatment. However, you should watch closely for any signs that your hypothyroidism may be getting worse. You and your physician will discuss the positives and negatives of using medications to treat mild hypothyroidism.
Medication doses for hypothyroidism must be carefully watched if you have heart disease as well, since too much thyroid hormone replacement medication will increase the risk for irregular heartbeats and chest pain.
You will probably need some sort of treatment for your hypothyroidism for the remainder of your life. Be sure to take your medicine as directed. Hypothyroidism may worsen with age and your dosage may need to be increased.
If you have questions or concerns about thyroid problems see your local doctor who will arrange for you to see thyroid specialist.