Hypothyroidism is a condition where the thyroid gland is not producing enough thyroid hormones. The underactive thyroid gland could be a result of an autoimmune disease, surgical removal of the thyroid, damage to the pituitary gland, thyroiditis, radiation, too much iodine, etc. When thyroid hormone levels are too low, all of the cells in the body cannot obtain a sufficient amount of hormones to function. As a result, the body’s processes begin to slow down. Symptoms a person may experience include: fatigue, weight gain or increasing dificulty losing weight, dry skin, forgetfulness, swelling, slower reflex, temperature sensitivity, and depression. Blood tests have to be conducted to determine if a person has hypothyroidism.
Hypothyroidism can be inherited from family members. If this condition exists in your family, and you notice the common symptoms, you may want to inform your physician and have Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH) Tests done. The TSH test for hypothyroidism measures how much of the thyroid hormone, thyroxine (T4), the thyroid gland is being asked to make. If you have been diagnosed with hypothyroidism, TSH tests should be conducted at least once a year. There is no cure for this condition; however, there are cases where patients with viral thyroiditis (inflammation of the thyroid gland) have their thyroid function return to normal. As long as an individual with hypothyroidism takes doctor administered doses of medication, symptoms should disappear as conditions improve.
It is very important to maintain a balanced diet and acquire all the essential vitamins and minerals. The thyroid gland must have iodine to make thyroid hormone. Iodine is obtained through consumed food and travels through the blood to the thyroid. Iodized salt is a common source of iodine in most people’s diet. It is important to control the amount of iodine that enters the body since too much iodine can cause or worsen hypothyroidism.
Hypothyroidism is treated with thyroxine (T4) replacement medication. Again this condition cannot be cured but can be completely controlled. Synthetic thyroxine pills contain the same hormone your body would naturally produce. If an individual is taking a higher or lower dose than needed, there are side effects related to this form of therapy. Some of the side effects related to higher dosage include fatigue, inability to sleep, greater appetite, nervousness, shakiness, shortness of breath, weak muscles, temperature sensitivities, and racing or skipped heart beat. A person taking a lower dose than needed continues the affects of hypothyroidism.
Always consult your doctor before taking any medication. Once a hypothyroidism patient has settled into the correct thyroxine dose, they can try supplemental therapies.