Explain Hypothyroidism disease to me

You may very well have hypothyroidism and not even know it for a long time. Yet there are symptoms that will be obvious if you examine yourself closely, or preferably, have a checkup in your doctor’s office. Hypothyroidism is a disease of the thyroid gland in which there is not sufficient production of the thyroid hormone.

Some causes of hypothyroidism

Some three percent of the population is affected by this disease, and that can be at any age, from infant on. One of the main causes of this disease is exposure to iodine or a deficiency in iodine.

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Hypothyroidism may be the result of postpartum thyroiditis which affects about five percent of mothers within the first year of giving birth. This may be seen as hyperthyroidism (overly active thyroid gland) initially, then as the thyroid gland returns to normal, develops into hypothyroidism.

Hypothyroidism may also be an inherited trait, known as an autosomal recessive. It may also be caused by the intake of a high amount of iodine.

In many instances, the disease is classified according to its site of origin.

  • Primary: has its point of origin with the thyroid gland itself, most commonly resulting from an overabundance of iodine or an autoimmune disease.
  • Secondary: the pituitary gland will not be creating sufficient amounts of TSH or thyroid stimulating hormone and so there is not enough thyroxine and triiodothyronine produced. Most likely these symptoms are the result of some damage done to the pituitary gland (most likely causes include radiation, tumor, or surgery).
  • Tertiary: The hypothalamus does not produce enough hormones.

Occasionally hypothyroidism may be the result of mood stabilizers which are lithium based and intended to treat a bipolar disorder (manic depression). Another cause may be ADHD or sluggish or inattentive awareness.

Symptoms vary

The symptoms of hypothyroidism vary according to length of time the person has been affected by the disease.

  • Early symptoms: include fatigue, depression, goiter, intolerance to cold, poor muscle tone, brittle fingernails and hair, paleness, weight gain, water retention, and constipation.
  • Late symptoms: Puffy dry facial skin, hoarse voice and slowed speech, low body temperature, thinness of the outer one third of eyebrows.
  • Less commonly seen symptoms: include hair loss, anemia, impaired memory, inattentiveness (brain fog), shortness of breath, irritability, unstable mood swings, decreased libido, and a puffy face along with hands and or feet.

How to diagnose hypothyroidism disease

The most common tests for this disease include measuring the thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) amount that is produced by the patients pituitary gland. High levels of this hormone show that the thyroid gland is not giving out enough in specific hormones as is necessary. These hormones include thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3). Also relevant are testing basal body temperature and anemia testing.

Treatments vary

Hypothyroidism disease is commonly treated with thyroxine (L-T4) and also triiodothyronine (L-T3). There are animal derived as well as synthetic forms of thyroid hormone which are taken daily. A doctor will keep an eye on blood levels to assure the dose is sufficient. Some of the treatment protocols are controversial and can vary from patient to patient. Some will respond better than others as well.