What is Hypothyroidism?
The thyroid is a very important gland located in the front part of your neck, responsible for the production of some crucial hormones: triiodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine (T4), which influence on virtually every cell in your body. Hypothyroidism occurs when something interferes with the normal function of the thyroid gland, causing a decreased hormone production and severe consequences in your body metabolism.
Hypothyroidism Signs and Symptoms
Signs and symptoms related to hypothyroidism can vary widely depending on every person and also on the severity of the hormone deficiency. Usually, symptoms tend to develop gradually over time and they might be very unspecific at the beginning.
Some of the signs and symptoms include:
- Muscle fatigue.
- Dry skin.
- Weight gain.
- Extreme sensitivity to cold.
- Extreme tiredness.
- Puffy face.
- Progressive swelling of the thyroid (Goiter).
Hypothyroidism occurs when the thyroid gland is not able to produce the required amount of hormones that ensure a normal metabolism function. There are multiple causes related to this condition and some of them include:
- Autoimmune disease. The most common example is a disorder known as Hashimoto’s disease, which is an autoimmune disorder that destroys the thyroid tissue.
- Thyroid gland surgical removal.
- Secondary effects of radiation therapy.
- Using too much medication to treat the opposite disorder, hyperthyroidism (producing too much thyroid hormones).
The diagnosis of hypothyroidism is based on your symptoms and some lab tests. You may have an endocrinologist, a doctor who specializes in the endocrine system, oversee your care. An endocrinologist is particularly knowledgeable about the function of the thyroid gland and the body’s other hormone-secreting glands. Your endocrinologist will perform a proper physical exam and a blood test to measure the levels of TSH (thyroid-stimulating hormone), the hormone produced in your brain that stimulated the thyroid, and thyroid hormones (T3 and T4). A low level of T4 or T3 and a high level of TSH indicate an underactive thyroid. He may test for Thyroid antibodies.
The treatment of hypothyroidism involves the supplementation of the deficient hormones by taking a synthetic thyroid hormone. This medication will gradually restore thyroid hormones levels and will reverse the signs and symptoms caused by hypothyroidism.
There are some important facts for you to know about synthetic thyroid hormones
- During treatment, your doctor will increase or decrease your dose, depending on your blood hormone levels.
- In order to ensure proper absorption, you might need to take it with an empty stomach, ideally during the morning and wait at least one hour before eating or drinking.
- If you start feeling better, don’t quite your medication. The symptoms might come back.
If you have a lump, nodule, or other growth on your thyroid, an endocrinologist should examine it. Most are harmless, but occasionally a more serious change is happening.
If You have an enlarged thyroid gland, or goiter. A goiter is an enlargement of part or all of your thyroid gland. If you have one, see an endocrinologist to help decide what treatment will help.
Sometimes the problem is in the pituitary gland and not the thyroid for it not to work. Pituitary gland is in the brain and controls your body’s production of thyroid hormone. Rarely the pituitary gland fails to release the thyrotropin-releasing hormone (TRH), which stimulates the production of thyroid hormone. This is a complicated condition and you need to see an endocrinologist to help you .
If you want to get pregnant or you become pregnant, it is very important see an endocrinologist to monitor your thyroid hormone medication treatment closely. Most women need to increase the dose of thyroid hormone while pregnant. Another reason to work with an endocrinologist during pregnancy is that untreated hypothyroidism increases the risk of having a miscarriage.