Hypothyroidism, is a common disorder of the thyroid gland. In this condition, your thyroid gland is underactive and does not produce enough hormones. Women are more likely to develop this condition than men, especially those older than 60, although it can happen at any age to anyone. The prevalence of hypothyroidism worldwide is about 4-5%. The prevalence of hypothyroidism in India was 11%, according to a study done in 2014
Symptoms of hypothyroidism may include:
- Bodily weakness
- Unexplained weight gain and difficulty losing it
- Dry, coarse hair
- Hair loss
- Intolerance to cold temperatures (while others around you remain normal)
- Frequent muscle aches and cramps
- Memory loss
- Decreased libido
- Abnormal menstrual cycles
- Goitre (Due to the pituitary gland releasing extra TSH or thyroid stimulating hormone to entice the thyroid gland, which causes its enlargement)
When to see a doctor?
See a doctor if you or your loved ones experience any of the above mentioned symptoms. Always trust premier medical institutions like Paras Hospitals Group that have specialized departments to take expert care of your condition.
Causes and Risk Factors
The most common cause of hypothyroidism, is Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, which is an inflammation of the thyroid gland. Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is an auto-immune disease, in which the body starts producing antibodies to attack and destroy the thyroid gland. Other causes might be:
- Recent radiation therapy to neck area might cause this condition
- Radioactive iodine treatment to correct hyperthyroidism usually results in hypothyroidism.
- Thyroid surgery to remove thyroid results in hypothyroidism
- Too little iodine in diet results in hypothyroidism, once a prime cause of this disease.
- Age: The chances of getting diabetes increase as one gets older, especially after 45.
- Pituitary gland dysfunction can be another reason for this condition
Risk factors of hypothyroidism include:
- Being Female
- Being over than 60
- Exposure to radiation in neck region
- Family history of thyroid disease
- Family history or personal history of auto-immune disease (like type 1 diabetes)
Treatment and Management
The standard treatment for hypothyroidism is daily dosage of the hormone levothyroxine. This is a medication taken orally, and reverses the effects of hypothyroidism. This is lifelong treatment, although you need to check TSH levels every year or as directed by your doctor, because the needed dosage might change. To ensure proper absorption of levothyroxine, you’ll need some supplements and include some things in your diet like:
- Iron (in food, or through supplements)
- Calcium (in food, or through supplements)
- Aluminium Hydroxide (found in antacid tablets)