What is Hypothyroidism

Introduction and Definition of Hypothyroidism

To go literally, hypo is decreased and thyroid is a gland (situated in the front of the neck just below the larynx). Making it together, hypothyroidism is the condition in which, the thyroid gland fails to function especially producing enough thyroid hormone due to one or the other reasons. Thyroid hormone is an important factor for body’s day-to-day metabolism and when it is not produced properly, the metabolism starts getting interrupted.

Causes of Hypothyroidism

There is decreased production of two thyroid hormones namely; T3 (triiodothyronine) and T4 (thyroxine). There are many causes for hypothyroidism but common cause include ‘Hashimoto’s thyroiditis’ in which, body’s own immune system attack the gland. Other causes are; surgical removal of thyroid gland, inflammatory conditions, congenital or birth defect and less commonly, failure of pituitary gland to secret a hormone that stimulate the thyroid gland which is called as Secondary Hypothyroidism.

Other than above factors, exposure of the neck to X-Ray radiation, iodine insufficiency, obesity and age over 50 years are triggering factor for causing hypothyroidism.

Symptoms of Hypothyroidism

There are some warming signals for hypothyroidism. Early symptoms include weakness, fatigue, weight gain, depression, joint or muscle pain, thin cum brittle fingernails and hairs, cold intolerance and sometimes paleness. Any of theses symptoms as a single or in bunch are taken as early signs of getting towards hypothyroidism.

If left untreated, they may turn into main symptoms. These late symptoms include dry flaky skin, slow speech, puffy face, swollen hands and feet, hoarseness of voice, abnormal menstrual periods and decreased sensation of taste and smell. The most advanced stage may end up into Myxedema and goiter in which the gland gets enlarged and is visible on the neck as swelling.

Diagnostic factors for Hypothyroidism

Apart from physical examination of neck, limbs, hairs, nails, facial features, response to sensation and other techniques of bodily check-up, laboratory investigation confirms the disease.

Hormonal level of T3, T4 and Serum TSH are major identification factors for the disease. The later stands for Thyroid Stimulating Hormone, which goes high in primary hypothyroidism and low or low-normal in secondary hypothyroidism. Hypothyroidism may disturb other bodily functions like cholesterol levels, liver enzymes, serum sodium, and hemoglobin or complete blood count.

Prevention and Treatment for Hypothyroidism

First and foremost is replacing the deficient thyroid hormone level, which is life-time therapy. The therapy is to be continued even if the symptoms subside. Some of the serious complications like Myxedema coma needs medical emergency which can be treated by admitting the patient in the hospital. One should include enough iodine in diet as it will check for the iodine deficiency causing thyroid dysfunction.

One has to understand that during the thyroid hormonal therapy, certain factors may interfere in your treatment. For instance, during pregnancy, the need of thyroid hormone may go up. Iron supplement can interfere with absorption of thyroid medication inside the bowels. During Oral Estrogen Therapy, there is less free thyroid hormone available to the body cells as it interferes with the thyroid gland’s functions.

Latest researches have shown good results of different yoga posture and some breathing techniques (Pranayama) in hypothyroidism. Certain yoga postures are said to correct the functions of thyroid gland without any side effects.


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