What is Hypothyroidism?

manYou may experience symptoms of hypothyroidism when the hypothyroid gland does not produce enoughT3 and T4 hormones. These hormones are essential to regulating metabolism, assisting the body with endocrinal processes and maintaining internal temperature homeostasis. In collaboration with the pituitary gland, which controls thyroid functioning by excreting thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH), the thyroid gland also plays a part in calcium absorption.

Signs of Mild Hypothyroidism

Patients suffering from mild cases of deficientT3 and T4 hormones may experience:

  • Dry, tight skin
  • Problems with memory and concentration
  • Muscle weakness and cramping
  • Persistent fatigue
  • Intolerance to cold temperatures
  • Puffiness under the eyes
  • Constipation
  • Hoarseness and/or husky voice
  • Mild depression
  • Weight gain without appetite increase

When hypothyroidism remains undiagnosed and untreated, thyroid output of hormones may continue to dwindle, causing symptoms to intensify. People with untreated hypothyroid disorder usually present these more noticeable symptoms:

  • Continued weight gain resulting in obesity
  • Worsening depression or anxiety
  • Noticeable cognitive impairment
  • Chronic lack of energy
  • Problems with gait due to increasing muscle weakness
  • Heavier than normal menstrual bleeding
  • Abnormally low blood pressure

In addition, hypothyroidism has been correlated with an increase in total cholesterol levels, including low and high density lipoproteins which are responsible for elevating the risk of cardiovascular problems. However, some research results suggest that the association between cholesterol and TSH may be heightened in individuals who suffering from insulin resistance, or diabetes.

Causes of Hypothyroidism

The most common cause of hypothyroidism is autoimmune thyroiditis, which occurs when immune system cells erroneously attack cells constituting the thyroid gland. After persistently attacking the thyroid for a period of time, the immune system effectively depletes thyroid enzyme levels that are necessary to produce sufficient amounts of hormone. Frequent forms of autoimmune thyroiditis include atrophic thyroiditis and Hashimoto’s thyroiditis.

Other reasons for hypothyroidism include:

  • Individuals diagnosed with thyroid cancer, nodules or Graves’ disease may require surgery to remove diseased areas of the thyroid. As a result, hypothyroidism may occur, especially if most of or the entire thyroid needs to be excised.
  • Undergoing radioactive iodine therapy for cancer, Hodgkin’s disease or nodular goiter will cause people to experience hypothyroid symptoms as thyroid functioning eventually ceases altogether.
  • Infants who are born with deformed thyroids or without thyroids will suffer from congenital hypothyroidism and need to take medication for the rest of their lives.
  • Medications such as lithium (for bipolar disorder) and interferon alpha (anti-viral, anti-tumor medication) interfere with thyroid functioning and may also cause hypothyroidism.

Depending on the cause of hyperthyroidism, treating symptoms of hypothyroid is only successful when medication is taken as prescribed. Some people find that supplementing their diet with selenium, which is a trace mineral that helps convert T4 into the more active hormone T3 , may help alleviate the problems of hypothyroidism as well. However, remembering to take your hyperthyroid medication is the most important factor determining whether you successfully manage hyperthyroid disease. Enroll today in one of Pill Pal’s convenient programs to be reminded when to take your medication to keep your symptoms under control and your health at its best.