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Hypothyroidism

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Hypothyroidism (an underactive thyroid) is a medical term characterized by low levels of thyroid hormones produced by the thyroid gland. It is more common in females than males, and the incidence increases with age. Numerous disorders result in hypothyroidism. Because thyroid hormone directly impacts growth, development, and several cellular processes in the body, inadequate levels can have widespread consequences for the body.

Hashimoto's disease treatment involves using a synthetic hormone called levothyroxine (T4). The synthetic hormone works like the T-4 hormone naturally produced by the thyroid. Hashimoto's thyroiditis is one of the common hypothyroidism causes in adults. Before synthetic levothyroxine, desiccated thyroid tablets obtained from animal thyroid glands were used. Synthetic T4 is widely available as a hypothyroidism medication, which is why desiccated thyroid tablets have become out of use. Levothyroxine is the best medicine for hypothyroidism, which replaces the thyroxine hormone, which your thyroid gland cannot make in enough quantity. A doctor can recommend the best hypothyroidism treatment.   

What is Hypothyroidism?

Insufficient thyroid hormones in the bloodstream and low metabolism cause hypothyroidism. It happens when your thyroid gland doesn't create and release sufficient thyroid levels in your body. Myxedema is a rare and extreme complication associated with hypothyroidism; it happens when the thyroid level decreases too low. Severe hypothyroidism, or myxedema, could be fatal, causing multiple organ abnormalities. It is a serious and life-threatening condition that requires immediate treatment. The symptoms of myxedema include:

  • Heart failure
  • Low body temperature
  • Anaemia
  • Confusion
  • Coma

Though it is not a life-threatening disease; however, it can become a serious and life-threatening medical condition without treatment. Hypothyroidism is also a life-long medical condition requiring regular medication, especially for those with low thyroid hormone levels. Easy treatment options are available to manage hypothyroidism. 

 

How does the thyroid work? 

Small in size, a thyroid gland looks like a butterfly-shaped organ in your larynx (under the voice box of the neck). The main work of the thyroid is to control your metabolism. Metabolism transforms the food you eat into energy through which your body function. T4 and T3 are hormones that the thyroid creates to control metabolism. These hormones work in the body to tell body's cells to use the required energy; in other words, these hormones control your body's heart rate and temperature. Healthy thyroid glands constantly release hormones and produce new hormones to replace what's been used. This cycle keeps your metabolism functioning well in the body.

The pituitary gland (also called hypophysis, a pea-sized gland located below the hypothalamus {hypothalamus is a base of your brain}) controls the thyroid hormones in the bloodstream. The pituitary gland adjusts its TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) level and sends it back to the thyroid to balance hormone amount when it senses either a lack of thyroid hormone or too much.

The entire body gets affected if the amount of thyroid hormones is too high (hyperthyroidism) or too low (Hypothyroidism). 

 

Who can get affected by hypothyroidism?  

People of all ages and genders can be affected by hypothyroidism; however, it is a more common medical condition in women after menopause. 

 

Difference between hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism 

The main difference between both is the quantity. The thyroid makes less hormone in hypothyroidism; on the other hand, the person with hyperthyroidism makes too much thyroid hormone.

Hypothyroidism slows down your metabolism, whereas, in the case of hyperthyroidism, it speeds up your metabolism. Many things fall opposite between these two conditions, such as you may have difficulty dealing with a cold if you have hypothyroidism, and you may not be able to handle the heat in case of hyperthyroidism. The right treatment can enable your thyroid gland to function well in both conditions. 

 

What causes hypothyroidism?

Hypothyroidism can cause primarily low levels of thyroid hormones and secondary failure of the work of the pituitary gland; however, the primary condition is much more common as this could be hereditary.

The other causes of hypothyroidism include:

  1. Thyroid inflammation (also called thyroiditis), in some cases, thyroiditis can happen after pregnancy or in viral illness.
  2. Iodine deficiency
  3. Hashimoto's thyroiditis (an inherited condition
  4. Pituitary or hypothalamic disease
  5. Use of certain medications
  6. Severe iodine deficiency
  7. Hyperthyroidism treatment (surgical or radiation removal of the thyroid)

Notes:

  1. It is important to manage thyroid levels during pregnancy; thyroid hormones are important for fetal development as they help develop a brain and nervous system. Untreated hypothyroidism during pregnancy can lead to miscarriage or preterm labour.
  2. The medication dosage may increase if you are on birth control pills; a doctor consultation helps you know the right dosage and method to consume birth control pills if you have a thyroid disease.
  3. Hypothyroidism can cause low testosterone levels due to hormonal imbalance. In some cases, the connection between erectile dysfunction (ED) and untreated hypothyroidism has been reported.

 

Common symptoms of hypothyroidism

Hypothyroidism symptoms usually develop slowly over time; sometimes, it takes years. The common symptoms include: 

  1. Feeling fatigued (tired) and depressed.
  2. Weight gain
  3. Experiencing numbness and tingling in hands
  4. Experiencing soreness, decreased sexual interest
  5. Change in voice or physical change in the face (like dropping eyelids or eye puffiness)
  6. Menstrual issues
  7. Abnormal blood cholesterol level, unable to tolerate cold temperatures
  8. Experiencing dry, coarse skin and hair
  9. Feeling difficulty in recall

 

Diagnoses of Hypothyroidism 

A blood test called TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) is ideal for diagnosing hypothyroidism. Diagnosing this condition without a test can be difficult because the symptoms can easily be confused with other health conditions. Sometimes, a doctor may physically examine if a thyroid is enlarged. He may also ask you for a blood test to check Hashimoto's disease (an autoimmune disorder).     

How to treat hypothyroidism?

Hypothyroidism is a manageable disease with a specific medication. Hypothyroidism is when your thyroid gland cannot release sufficient thyroxine hormones; medication can help make these hormones in most cases. The common oral medication, Levothyroxine/Thyroxine, successfully treats hypothyroidism in most patients. This medicine for hypothyroidism increases your body's thyroid hormones; however, it is important to take this medicine regularly to normalize the number of hormones in your body for the rest of your life. Follow your doctor's advice and prescription medications to treat thyroid issues. In rare cases, it is also found that hypothyroidism is treatable with certain asanas or exercises, but no pieces of evidence are available.

 

How does untreated hypothyroidism act?

Untreated hypothyroidism can become a serious and life-threatening disease without proper treatment. The symptoms can become more severe, including:

  1. Trouble in breathing
  2. Heart issues
  3. Developing mental health issues
  4. Developing enlarged thyroid gland (goitre)
  5. Unable to maintain normal body temperature
  6. Developing myxedema (refer above about this condition)

 

Is hypothyroidism can be prevented? 

Hypothyroidism is an unprevented medical condition. Timely doctor consultation and following treatment are the only prevention to control the symptoms. 

 

Best food to eat for hypothyroidism 

In the Western diet, most food contains iodine (a mineral that helps the thyroid gland to produce hormones). Eat food rich in iodine to boost your hormone level. The most reliable way that increases hormone levels is a prescription medication. Consult a doctor/nutritionist for the best diet/ meal plan to treat hypothyroidism. Food high in iodine includes dairy products, eggs, edible seaweed, meat, poultry, seafood and iodized salt.

Note - Do not consume too much iodine because the effect can be paradoxical.

 

Can hypothyroidism go away on its own? 

If you are temporarily affected by hypothyroidism symptoms, they can fade over time or go away as soon as you start treatment. For example, in some cases with high diabetes, you may experience hypothyroidism symptoms, but as your diabetes gets controlled, the symptoms go away on their own. Talk to your doctor to know more about this.

How can you take thyroid hormone?

Thyroid medicine should be taken on an empty stomach daily. After taking the medicine, avoiding eating or drinking for 30 to 60 minutes is recommended. Most patients are advised to take thyroid hormone in the morning after waking and before 30 minutes of breakfast.

What is the best medicine for hypothyroidism?

Hypothyroidism or underactive thyroid is usually treated by taking a daily hormone replacement tablet called Levothyroxine. Levothyroxine is used to replace the thyroxine hormone, which your thyroid gland does not make in enough amounts.

For how long does one need to take a Hypothyroidism tablet?

Levothyroxine is a commonly prescribed hypothyroidism medicine that replaces the missing thyroid hormone thyroxine. Treatment with synthetic hormones is usually lifelong. If you stop taking Levothyroxine, your symptoms are likely to appear again.  

What is the best hypothyroidism treatment?

The best treatment for hypothyroidism includes taking the daily thyroid hormone medicine levothyroxine. This thyroid medicine is taken orally. It lowers the elevated hormone levels to a healthy range, eliminating hypothyroidism symptoms.

How is hypothyroidism treated?

Hypothyroidism is treated with pure synthetic thyroxine (T4), taken orally once daily to treat hypothyroidism in most patients. The oral medication fully replaces the thyroid gland and successfully treats the symptoms of hypothyroidism. Branded synthetic forms are Eltroxin and Thyronorm.  

What is the common medicine for hypothyroidism?

The main medicine to treat hypothyroidism or an underactive gland is Levothyroxine, an artificial version of thyroxine (T4) hormone naturally produced by the thyroid gland. Available in the form of tablets, Levothyroxine can be sold under the brand names Thyronorm and Eltroxin.

How does medicine for hypothyroidism work?

Levothyroxine is an artificial hormone identical to a naturally produced thyroxine hormone. It replaces thyroxine in case your thyroid gland cannot produce it and prevents symptoms of an underactive thyroid.

What hypothyroidism treatment do you need?

Treatment for hypothyroidism usually depends on how low your thyroid hormone levels have dropped. Doctors usually treat this thyroid disorder with an artificial hormone called Levothyroxine (thyronorm, Eltroxin). Levothyroxine is a medicine that increases thyroid hormone levels.

How do doctors treat hypothyroidism?

Hypothyroidism is treated by replacing the thyroid hormones that your thyroid gland can no longer make. The doctor prescribes Levothyroxine, a thyroid hormone identical to a hormone produced by a healthy thyroid gland.

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