Thyroid, underactive

Other names: Hypothyroidism

DEFINITION

Hypothyroidism is a condition where the thyroid gland does not produce enough hormones. It can lead to various health problems like obesity, joint pain, infertility, and heart disease. However, with proper diagnosis through thyroid function tests and treatment with synthetic thyroid hormone, the condition can be effectively managed.

SYMPTOMS

Symptoms of hypothyroidism include fatigue, sensitivity to cold, constipation, dry skin, weight gain, muscle weakness, depression, and slowed heart rate. If left untreated, it can progress to more severe symptoms like an enlarged thyroid (goiter) and myxedema which can be life-threatening.

CAUSES

Causes of hypothyroidism include autoimmune disease (Hashimoto's thyroiditis), treatment for hyperthyroidism, thyroid surgery, radiation therapy, and certain medications. Less common causes include congenital disease, pituitary disorder, pregnancy-related factors, and iodine deficiency.

RISK FACTORS

Risk factors for hypothyroidism include being a woman over 60 years old, having an autoimmune disease, undergoing certain treatments or surgeries affecting the thyroid gland, recent pregnancy, or a family history of thyroid disorders.

COMPLICATIONS

Untreated hypothyroidism can lead to complications such as goiter, heart problems, mental health issues like depression, peripheral neuropathy, myxedema coma, infertility, and birth defects in infants born to mothers with untreated thyroid disease.

TESTS AND DIAGNOSIS

Diagnosis is based on symptoms and blood tests measuring TSH and thyroxine levels. Treatment involves synthetic thyroid hormone levothyroxine to restore hormone levels. Proper dosage adjustment over time is crucial for effective management.

TREATMENTS AND DRUGS

Levothyroxine is the standard treatment for hypothyroidism. It should be taken consistently to avoid symptoms returning. Proper absorption of levothyroxine may be affected by certain medications or foods. Alternative natural extracts are available but should be used with caution due to lack of regulation.


QUESTIONS

  1. What are the common symptoms of hypothyroidism?

Common symptoms include fatigue, weight gain, sensitivity to cold, dry skin, and muscle weakness.

  1. What are the potential complications of untreated hypothyroidism?

Complications may include heart problems, mental health issues like depression, infertility, and birth defects in infants.

  1. How is hypothyroidism diagnosed?

Diagnosis is based on symptoms and blood tests measuring TSH and thyroxine levels.

  1. What is the standard treatment for hypothyroidism?

The standard treatment involves daily use of synthetic thyroid hormone levothyroxine.

  1. Why is proper dosage adjustment important in hypothyroidism treatment?

Correct dosage adjustment ensures effective management and prevents side effects.

  1. What are some risk factors for developing hypothyroidism?

Risk factors include being a woman over 60 years old, autoimmune diseases, recent pregnancy, or family history of thyroid disorders.

  1. Can untreated hypothyroidism lead to infertility?

Yes, low levels of thyroid hormone can interfere with ovulation leading to fertility issues.

  1. Are natural extracts a safe alternative for treating hypothyroidism?

Natural extracts containing thyroid hormones should be used cautiously as their potency and purity are not guaranteed.

  1. What role does TSH play in managing hypothyroidism?

TSH tests help determine the right dosage of medication initially and over time for effective management.

  1. When should you see a doctor for suspected hypothyroidism symptoms?

If experiencing symptoms like fatigue or unexplained weight gain along with dry skin or hoarse voice.