Hypothyroidism is the most common hormone disease along with Diabetes Mellitus and Female Hormonal Disturbances. Hypothyroidism is more commonly seen in women than men, but can affect all people and of all age groups. Hypothyroidism many a times it goes unnoticed and undiagnosed.
What is Hypothyroidism?
Hypo means under activity. Under activity of the thyroid gland is called as hypothyroidism. The circulating thyroid hormones in body becomes less than sufficient and causes symptoms.
What are the types of Hypothyroidism?
Hypothyroidism is classified into 2 types based on the level of problem
Primary Hypothyroidism :
Thyroid gland is at fault and is unable to produce sufficient hormones, this type of hypothyroidism is called as primary hypothyroidism.
In Secondary Hypothyroidism the defect is at the hypothalamo-pituitary axis and there is an insufficient TSH production, which leads to less stimulation of the thyroid gland and in-turn leads to decreased production of T3 and T4 and leads to hypothyroidism.
What are the causes of Hypothyroidism?
Hypothyroidism is a multifactorial disease and has many causes and some of the most common causes of hypothyroidism are :
- Iodine deficiency is the most common cause of hypothyroidism in many parts of world.
- Auto- immune thyroiditis or hashimoto’s thyroiditis is the most common cause of hypothyroidism in western countries, especially in USA
- Previous surgical treatment for hyperthyroid or thyroid nodule.
- History of radiation / radiation therapy to thyroid gland.
- Certain drugs : Medication used for Hyperthyroidism, Psychiatric diseases, Heart problems can lead to hypothyroidism.
What are the symptoms of Hypothyroidism?
- Fatigue, weakness, exhaustion, sluggishness.
- Weight gain
- Cold intolerance or decreased tolerance to cold.
- Hair loss and Coarse, dry hair and/or thinning of hair.
- Dry, rough, pale and itchy skin.
- Depression, mood swings, Irritability.
- Memory loss, Difficulty in concentrating.
In Women :
- Abnormal menstrual cycles : increased or irregular menstrual flow.
- Frequent miscarriages, unable to conceive (Infertility).
- Puffy, swollen face & swelling of feet.
- Swelling of the thyroid gland (Goiter).
- Hoarseness of voice and slow speech.
In Children :
- Stunted growth, short stature, late development of teeth, Delayed puberty, slow mental development and dullness with delayed learning and poor memory can be the only symptom in school going children suffering with Hypothyroidism
How is Hypothyroidism Diagnosed?
- Diagnosis of hypothyroidism is mainly based on results of thyroid hormone levels in body. Generally Thyroid hormone (T3 and T4 ) levels in body can be deficient or normal and Thyroid stimulating hormone(TSH) level in body is elevated in primary hypothyroidism and decreased in case of secondary hypothyroidism.
- Anti TPO antibodies testing is done to diagnosis Auto-Immune Thyroiditis,
- To detect a nodule or infiltrative disease, ultrasonography of thyroid gland is performed.
What are the measures to keep the disease under control?
- Monitor your Thyroid hormone levels regularly. Every 6 months to 1year you should get your thyroid hormone levels checked or as advice by your doctor.
- As many patients suffering with hypothyroidism also have high cholesterol in body you may need to regularly check your lipid profile. To decrease other complications arising out of high cholesterol levels diet high in fats should be avoided.
- Reduce your stress, try to relax, avoid stress/tensions, try practicing yoga & meditation or other relaxing techniques convenient for you . Habituate a healthy life style and have good sleep.
- Regular Exercise,
- Avoid goitrogens in food ex : cabbage, cauliflower, Broccoli
- Eat plenty of fresh leafy vegetables and fruits