Underactive Thyroid Hypothyroidism

Underactive thyroid hypothyroidism is a condition in which your thyroid glands do not produce enough thyroid hormones.  The thyroid affects many bodily functions such as growth, development and metabolism – under production of thyroid hormone slows down metabolism. Therefore underactive thyroid hypothyroidism can result in several health disorders, the symptoms of which should be dealt with promptly once they’re noticed, and diagnosed.

The common symptoms of underactive thyroid hypothyroidism include:

  • unexplained fatigue,
  • dry and coarse skin,
  • inflammation of skin,
  • puffiness around eyes, fingers, toes etc,
  • depression,
  • constipation,
  • slow healing of wounds,
  • hair fall,
  • slowing down mentally,
  • unexplained weight gain,
  • fertility issues and others.

Although these are common symptoms of hypothyroidism, not all of them will necessarily develop in a single patient.  A patient may have a few, or them may have a number of them.  Furthermore, these symptoms don’t just suddenly appear; they develop gradually and will worsen with time if not properly treated.  Unfortunately though it’s all too easy to overlook them, particularly in their early stages.

Another problem with these symptoms is that many of them are common across a number of other health issues as well.  Therefore, they may be assumed to be symptomatic of those issues and ignored, particularly if the issue is not serious.   This can lead to potentially more dangerous conditions developing.

Interesting Questions about Thyroid:

How is Thyroid Disease Treated?

If you have thyroid disease, your doctor can discuss which treatment is right for you. The two basic goals for treating thyroid disease are to return thyroid hormone levels to normal and to remove potentially cancerous lumps. Treatments include radioactive iodine, antithyroid drugs, beta-blocking drugs, thyroid hormone pills, and surgery. There are several types of treatment:

  • Radioactive iodine is used to shrink a thyroid gland that has become enlarged or is producing too much hormone. It may be used on patients with hyperthyroidism, a goiter, or some cases of cancer.
  • Surgery is normally used to remove a cancer and may also be used to remove a large goiter.
  • Thyroid hormone pills are a common treatment for hypothyroidism, for patients with a goiter, and for patients who have had thyroid surgery. The pills provide the body with the right amount of thyroid hormone.
  • Anithyroid drugs and beta-blocking drugs are used to treat hyperthyroid patients.
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What are the signs and symptoms of hypothyroidism?

Possible effects of hypothyroidism are:

  • slow heart rate (less than 70 beats per minute)
  • elevated blood pressure
  • feeling slow or tired
  • feeling cold
  • drowsy during the day, even after sleeping all night
  • poor memory
  • difficulty concentrating
  • muscle cramps, numb arms and legs
  • weight gain
  • puffy face, especially under the eyes
  • husky voice
  • thinning hair
  • dry, coarse, flaky, yellowish skin
  • in children, short height
  • constipation
  • heavy menstrual flow
  • milky discharge from the breasts
  • infertility
  • goiter (an abnormal swelling in the neck caused by an enlarged thyroid gland).
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What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Thyroiditis?

Thyroiditis can cause either hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism, or one followed by the other.

Common signs and symptoms of hyperthyroidism include:

  • fast heart rate (100-120 beats per minute, or higher)
  • nervousness or irritability
  • increased perspiration
  • muscle weakness (especially in the shoulders, hips, and thighs)
  • trembling hands
  • weight loss, in spite of a good appetite.

Common signs and symptoms of hypothyroidism include:

  • slow heart rate (less than 70 beats per minute)
  • feel slow or tired
  • drowsy during the day, even after sleeping all night
  • poor memory
  • difficulty concentrating
  • muscle cramps, numb arms and legs
  • weight gain
  • constipation
  • heavy menstrual flow.
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Have more questions? Need more answers? Check our Full Thyroid FAQ

Women More Susceptible To Underactive Thyroid Hypothyroidism

Women are known to be more prone to developing underactive thyroid hypothyroidism compared to men, especially after pregnancy due to the rise and fall in hormone levels. One in eight women will develop thyroid problems at some stage in their life and many of those will go on to develop full blown hypothyroidism.  The risk factor for women to develop hypothyroidism also increases with their age and is most common in women over 50.  By comparison, only one in every 1000 men is known to develop hypothyroidism.

However, the fact is that anyone can develop an underactive thyroid hypothyroidism at any point of their life.  There are various triggers that can result in impaired thyroid activity.  These include:

However you develop hypothyroidism it needs to be treated.  If left untreated hypothyroidism can lead to cardiac problems like an enlarged heart as well as increase the risk of heart attack and strokes.  It can also cause problems for your lungs thus affecting two of the most important organs in your body.

If you do develop symptoms of underactive thyroid hypothyroidism, the first step is to speak to your doctor.  They will probably order a blood test to confirm a diagnosis of hypothyroidism.  The test will measure the levels of TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) in your blood.  During the early stages of hypothyroidism it’s not uncommon for thyroid hormones levels to be within an acceptable range.  However, if your thyroid is starting to play up your pituitary gland will begin producing more TSH.

The treatment for hypothyroidism is usually life long. The diagnosis and doses of medicine for hypothyroidism vary with age and other health conditions. If you are taking any separate vitamins to help you deal with the symptoms of hypothyroidism you first need to consult a physician to guide with the right amounts and timings of those vitamins.

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Donna Morgan

Donna Morgan

Crank It is where inspiration, aspiration and solution converge to make things ‘happen’. Turn on your life or turn it around and see where it takes you!

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