Hypothyroidism Can Develop When:
- There is a total lack of thyroid hormone production as a result of thyroid removal, or after ablation with radioactive iodine, (this is done to treat hyperthyroidism and thyroid cancer).
- Babies born with inherited disorders where the thyroid fails to secrete enough thyroid hormones. Today there is a test that is performed on the newborn (Heel Test or Neonatal Screening), to detect these diseases in time and receive the corresponding therapy.
- But temporary hypothyroidism can also occur when the gland becomes inflamed (thyroiditis), this can be of autoimmune origin (Hashimoto’s thyroidism), or by a cold virus, or by postpartum thyroiditis.
- Another cause is chronic lack of iodine in the diet. That is why it is recommended to consume iodized salt.
- In other cases, the hypothalamus or thyroid gland stops secreting the thyroid-stimulating hormone TSH, whether due to a tumor, an infection or a cancer, then the thyroid gland, no matter how healthy, stops manufacturing thyroid hormones because it does not receives the indication to do so from the hypothalamus.
Symptoms of Hypothyroidism:
It is very easy to confuse it with another disease since its symptoms are not very specific, and they progress gradually, for example:
- Lack of energy.
- Constant tiredness
- Trouble sleeping.
- Changes in weight (you can gain weight even by eating a little).
- Muscle cramps and stiffness.
- Tingling and pain in the hands (Carpal Tunnel Syndrome).
- Rough, thick and dry skin.
- Rare, rough and dry hair.
- Depression symptoms (sadness for no apparent reason).
- Decrease in the pulse.
- Abundant menstrual periods.
- Greater sensitivity and poor tolerance to cold.
- The palms of the hands and feet acquire a slightly orange color (carotenemia).
- Hair loss and eyebrow hair.
- Older people may be more forgetful or confused.
If hypothyroidism is not treated, it evolves into an even more serious complication that is myxedema where the person acquires certain characteristics such as being an expressionless face, swelling of the face and around the eyes, an enlarged tongue and the skin becomes rough and pasty, signs and symptoms of anemia and heart failure also appear. Pregnant women who after giving birth (4 months), begin to feel more tired than usual or have variations in their weight, in their mood, and this persists even after the year, they should consult the doctor because they may be developing a postpartum thyroiditis. Babies born with congenital hypothyroidism may have a sad look, swollen face, hoarse crying, protruding tongue, more normal sleepiness, constipation, feeding problems, lack of muscle tone. If this is not detected and treated the child may grow more slowly (short stature), dry and fragile hair, poor diet, suffocation episodes. At the beginning it may be that the baby does not present any symptoms (that is why neonatal screening is done to all newborns), but as it grows the symptoms appear slowly.
Diagnosis of Hypothyroidism:
The diagnosis is made in newborns through the heel test. But in older people the doctor will check your neck for any bumps and check your skin, hair and heart for other signs that guide you in your diagnosis. The definitive diagnosis will be given by the tests or blood tests indicated by your doctor, which determine the levels of thyroid hormone and TSH in the blood. In addition, your doctor may ask for other blood tests to check your cholesterol, sodium and other levels that are usually abnormal.
The treatment consists in replacing what the organism lacks. Usually the doctor recommends a medicine called levothyroxine that is a substitute for synthetic T4 hormone. The doses are usually small and then the doctor regulates the dose according to your need. Women who are pregnant and have hypothyroidism should visit their doctor because they are likely to need to adjust the doses they receive. The duration of the treatment will be determined by your doctor, in case you have an underactive thyroid or have had your thyroid removed you will have to follow a treatment for life.
Data to Consider:
Never stop taking the medicine because you started feeling better. Never take thyroid hormone with supplements such as calcium, iron, multivitamins, antacids. Always try to take them on an empty stomach. If you change the brand of medication, let your doctor know, you may have to check your levels.