Hypothyroidism, also called underactive thyroid disease, is a common disorder.

With hypothyroidism, thyroid gland does not make enough thyroid hormone.

Hormones released by the gland travel through bloodstream and affect nearly every part of body, from heart and brain, to muscles and skin.

The thyroid controls metabolism of food. Metabolism affects body’s temperature, heartbeat, and how well you burn calories.

If you don't have enough thyroid hormone, your body processes slow down. That means your body makes less energy, and your metabolism becomes sluggish.

Causes for Hypothyroidism?

The most common cause of hypothyroidism is "Thyroiditis", an inflammation of the thyroid gland. Hashimoto's thyroiditis is an autoimmune disorder. With Thyroiditis, body produces antibodies that attack and destroy the thyroid gland. Thyroiditis may also be caused by a viral infection.

Treating certain cancers, such as lymphoma, requires radiation to the neck. Radiation damages the cells in the thyroid. This makes it more difficult for the gland to produce hormone.

Radioactive iodine treatment is commonly prescribed to people who have an overactive thyroid gland, a condition known as hyperthyroidism. However, radiation destroys the cells in the thyroid gland. This usually leads to hypothyroidism.

Certain medicines to treat heart problems, psychiatric conditions, and cancer can sometimes affect the production of thyroid hormone.

Surgery to remove the thyroid will lead to hypothyroidism. If only part of the thyroid is removed, the remaining gland may still be able to produce enough hormone for the body's needs.

The thyroid needs iodine to produce thyroid hormone. Your body doesn't make iodine, so you need to get it through your diet. Iodized table salt is rich in iodine. Other food sources of iodine include shellfish, saltwater fish, eggs, dairy products, and seaweed.

Postpartum thyroiditis : Although the reason isn’t clear, in sometimes, inflammation of the thyroid occurs after pregnancy. This is called postpartum thyroiditis. Women with this condition usually have a severe increase in thyroid hormone levels followed by a sharp drop in thyroid hormone production. Most women with postpartum thyroiditis will regain their normal thyroid function.

Congenital hypothyroidism : Some babies may be born with a thyroid gland that did not develop correctly or does not work properly. This type of hypothyroidism is called congenital hypothyroidism.

Types of hypothyroidism

  • Primary hypothyroidism is caused by a problem with the thyroid gland itself.
  • Secondary hypothyroidism occurs when another problem interferes with the thyroid's ability to produce hormones.  Eg : The pituitary gland and hypothalamus produce hormones that trigger the release of thyroid hormone. A problem with one of these glands can make your thyroid underactive.

Sometimes, an underactive thyroid that results from a problem with the hypothalamus is called tertiary hypothyroidism.

Symptoms of Hypothyroidism

Symptoms of hypothyroidism may include

Changes in the menstrual cycle
Dry hair and hair loss
Dry skin
Greater sensitivity to cold
Slow heart rate
Swelling of the thyroid gland (goiter)
Unexplained weight gain or difficulty losing weight
Carpal tunnel syndrome

Normally Babies with hypothyroidism may have no symptoms. But if  do occur, they may be

Cold hands and feet
Extreme sleepiness
Hoarse cry
Little or no growth
Low muscle tone (floppy infant)
Persistent jaundice (yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes)
Poor feeding habits
Puffy face
Stomach bloating
Swollen tongue

Hypothyroidism Diagnosing

Thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH)
T4 (thyroxine)
are done for Diagnosing the Hypothyroidism.
A thyroid ultrasound, or thyroid scan, to check for nodules or inflammation.

Lower than normal T4 levels usually mean you have hypothyroidism. However, some people may have increased TSH levels while having normal T4 levels. This is called subclinical (mild) hypothyroidism. It is believed to be an early stage of hypothyroidism.

If your test results or physical exam of the thyroid are abnormal, your doctor may order a thyroid ultrasound, or thyroid scan, to check for nodules or inflammation.

Treatments for Hypothyroidism

Synthetic thyroid hormone T4 are used to treating Hypothyroidism.

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