Table of Contents
- Hypothyroidism: Definition
- Causes of Hypothyroidism
- Risk Factors for Developing Hypothyroidism
- Symptoms of Hypothyroidism
- Diagnosis of Hypothyroidism
- Treatment of Hypothyroidism
- Dietary Considerations
- Consequences of Untreated Hypothyroidism
Understanding Hypothyroidism: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment
Hypothyroidism, also known as underactive thyroid, is a condition where your thyroid gland does not produce enough thyroid hormones (T3, T4), leading to a generalised slowing down of metabolic processes in the body.
Causes of Hypothyroidism
Some of the causative factors of hypothyroidism are a family history of autoimmune thyroid disease, such as Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, an injury to the thyroid, surgical removal of the thyroid gland, radioactive iodine therapy, inflammation of the thyroid gland, and taking medications that contain lithium or iodine.
Risk Factors for Developing Hypothyroidism
Factors that can increase the risk of developing hypothyroidism include being female, older age, family history of Hashimoto’s thyroiditis or any other autoimmune disease, personal history of an autoimmune disease, being pregnant or postpartum, too much or too little iodine consumption, receiving radiation to the neck or upper chest, and being treated with certain medications (for example, lithium for bipolar disorder).
Symptoms of Hypothyroidism
Symptoms vary depending on the magnitude of thyroid hormone deficiency and may include constipation, fatigue, weakness, weight gain, hair loss, dry skin, intolerance to cold, menstrual disturbances, depression, and the development of a goitre in long-term cases. Some patients may also experience hoarseness in voice, edema, and hearing difficulty.
Diagnosis of Hypothyroidism
Hypothyroidism is diagnosed with a blood test. People with a TSH level above the normal range, with lowered levels of thyroid gland hormones, are considered to have hypothyroidism.
Treatment of Hypothyroidism
Synthetic thyroxine (T4) supplementation is the treatment of choice. The goal is to supplement thyroid hormone and normalize TSH levels in the body. The dosage of thyroxine will depend on age, requirement, severity, and duration of hypothyroidism. TSH should be measured every 2-3 months to assess the adequacy of the supplementation.
There isn’t much scientific evidence that specific foods definitively help treat hypothyroidism. It is important, however, to get an optimal amount of iodine in your diet. Good sources of iodine include iodized table salt, saltwater fish, dairy products, and eggs. The single best thing you can do for your thyroid function is to eat a well-balanced and nutrient-rich diet.
Consequences of Untreated Hypothyroidism
Hypothyroidism responds well to thyroid supplementation, but if left untreated, it can lead to health issues. The thyroid gland, under stress