What Is Hypothyroidism?


Are you feeling tired, constipated, confused, and gaining weight like never before? Then, there is a high probability that you are suffering from hypothyroidism. Or, in other words, your body is producing lesser amounts of thyroid hormones than it is actually supposed to. 

Hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid) is a condition in which your thyroid gland doesn’t produce enough of certain important hormones. Hypothyroidism may not cause noticeable symptoms in the early stages. Over time, untreated hypothyroidism can cause several health problems, such as obesity, joint pain, infertility, and heart disease. The signs and symptoms of hypothyroidism vary, depending on the severity of the hormone deficiency. Problems tend to develop slowly, often over several years. 

At first, you may barely notice the symptoms of hypothyroidism, such as fatigue and weight gain. Or you may simply attribute them to getting older. But as your metabolism continues to slow, you may develop more-obvious problems. 

Hypothyroidism signs and symptoms may include fatigue, increased sensitivity to cold, constipation, dry skin, weight gain, puffy face, hoarseness, muscle weakness, elevated blood cholesterol level, muscle aches, tenderness, and stiffness, pain, stiffness or swelling in your joints, more substantial than usual or irregular menstrual periods, thinning hair, slowed heart rate, depression, impaired memory, and enlarged thyroid gland (goiter). 

Although hypothyroidism most often affects middle-aged and older women, anyone can develop the condition, including infants. Initially, babies born without a thyroid gland or with a gland that doesn’t work properly may have few signs and symptoms.  

When your thyroid doesn’t produce enough hormones, the balance of chemical reactions in your body can be upset. There can be many causes, including autoimmune disease, hyperthyroidism treatments, radiation therapy, thyroid surgery, and certain medications. 

Your thyroid is a small, butterfly-shaped gland situated at the base of the front of your neck, just below your Adam’s apple. Hormones produced by the thyroid gland — triiodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine (T4) — have an enormous impact on your health, affecting all aspects of your metabolism. These hormones also influence the control of vital functions, such as body temperature and heart rate.  

Untreated hypothyroidism can lead to some health problems such as constant stimulation of your thyroid leads to release more hormones may cause the gland to become more prominent — a condition known as a goiter. Although generally not uncomfortable, a large goiter can affect your appearance and may interfere with swallowing or breathing. 

Hypothyroidism may also be associated with an increased risk of heart disease and heart failure, primarily because high levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol — the “bad” cholesterol — can occur in people with an underactive thyroid. 

Depression may occur early in hypothyroidism and may become more severe over time. Hypothyroidism can also cause slowed mental functioning. Long-term uncontrolled hypothyroidism can cause damage to your peripheral nerves. These are the nerves that carry information from your brain and spinal cord to the rest of your body — for example, your arms and legs. Peripheral neuropathy may cause pain, numbness, and tingling in affected areas. 

Low levels of thyroid hormone can interfere with ovulation, which impairs fertility. Also, some of the causes of hypothyroidism — such as autoimmune disorder — can also impair fertility

Infants with untreated hypothyroidism present at birth are at risk of severe problems with both physical and mental development. But if this condition is diagnosed within the first few months of life, the chances of healthy growth are excellent. 

While it may be difficult to prevent thyroid diseases, you can prevent its complications by getting diagnosed immediately after you notice a change in the way your body functions and following the treatment that your doctor prescribes. 

Until Next Time, 

Team Doctor ASKY! 


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