The thyroid produces hormones that regulate the body’s metabolism, among other things. In hypothyroidism, hormone production is reduced which can lead to a number of symptoms such as fatigue, coldness, and depression. Treatment is by prescription drugs that balance hormone production.
APPOTEK can help you with Hypothyroidism.
The thyroid gland is located in the front of the neck, just below the larynx. Part of the body’s hormonal system, it secretes hormones that control metabolism – how the body’s cells use energy. Hormones affect heart rate, body temperature, muscle strength and many other functions of the body.
Two areas of the brain, the hypothalamus and the pituitary gland, control the hormone balance in the blood and the number of thyroid hormones to be produced and secreted.
Hypothyroidism means that the metabolism runs at a low speed because you have a lack of thyroid hormone – thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3). As hormone levels fall, the thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) rises. The result is that you can feel tired, frozen and depressed. It is more common for women to get sick, especially around menopause, but hypothyroidism can occur at all ages.
Symptoms are initially nonspecific, with fatigue and depression as the first signs. After a longer period of time however, low thyroid production becomes more apparent. Common symptoms of hypothyroidism are:
- difficulty in concentration
- general joint and muscle pain
- weight gain
- low heart rate and low blood pressure
- slow heartbeat
- swelling of the face
- memory loss
- changed menstrual cycle
- difficulty getting pregnant.
A prolonged untreated hypothyroidism can cause symptoms called myxedema. In addition to increased symptoms, the entire body becomes swollen and a general slowness is experienced.
In connection with hypothyroidism, you can also have an enlarged thyroid gland – goiter. It can put pressure on other tissues and cause a change of voice, hoarseness, sore throat and difficulty swallowing.
The symptoms of hypothyroidism can be similar to other conditions, such as depression, or menopausal disorders in women.
Thyroid problems can have several causes. Occasionally, the body may have a temporary thyroid disorder, which in medical terms is called subclinical hypothyroidism. These symptoms are transient and hormone levels return to normal within a few weeks.
The most common reason for hypothyroidism is underproduction of the thyroid hormone. In cases where hypothyroidism is autoimmune (Hashimoto thyroiditis – a chronic inflammation caused by autoimmune disease) it may be linked to other autoimmune conditions, such as diabetes mellitus, rheumatoid arthritis, celiac disease, and vitiligo (patchy skin pigmentation).
In Hashimoto’s disease, the immune system produces antibodies, which are called anti-TPO (Anti-thyroid peroxidase) and impair hormone production. When the function of the thyroid gland is altered, it can lead to growth, which is called the goiter. You may have symptoms of Hashimoto with or without goiter.
If you are treated for hyperthyroidism, elevated metabolism, then after treatment it can turn into hypothyroidism.
Radiation or operation of the thyroid gland can affect hormone production and result in permanent hypothyroidism.
Temporary hypothyroidism can also occur during or after pregnancy – when about a fifth of cases turn into permanent hypothyroidism and need drug treatment.
It is known that some drugs affect the functioning of the thyroid gland. In these cases, hypothyroidism is a side effect of the medication.
Congenital hypothyroidism is an unusual form that is tested and treated immediately upon discovery.
Prevention and protection
Hypothyroidism may be prevented by adding iodine to commonly used foods, like iodized salt.
If you are treating with medicines, it is important that you follow your prescription correctly.
Blood tests can show if you have any signs of hypothyroidism. Early symptoms of hypothyroidism are vague and diverse, so different values are measured to find out what causes the malfunction of your thyroid gland.
If the thyroid gland is also enlarged, further investigations are done. Both physically, to note any soreness or change in shape, and also with ultrasound and a needle biopsy for cell samples. If there is any pressure on nearby tissues, x-ray or tomography can be used for further investigation.
Hypothyroidism is treated with a prescription tablet replacement hormone to stabilize metabolism. It may take time to set the right dose and regular blood tests are common in the meantime.
When to consult a doctor
If you experience fatigue for no other reason, in combination with coldness, depression and slow weight gain, you should consult your doctor for further investigation.
If your thyroid is enlarged, swollen, sore or in pain, you should seek immediate treatment.
How Appotek can help
You can contact APPOTEK for help with hypothyroidism. A nurse or physician will make an individual assessment based on your symptoms, after which you may be prescribed medicine or referred on to a specialist.
If your child has a problem, they should always see a doctor.
Our psychologists can also help with hypothyroidism, if you have been diagnosed and need someone to talk to.