Everything to Know About Hypothyroidism

When your thyroid gland does not produce enough hormones, you have hypothyroidism, an underactive thyroid gland. Continue reading to learn more.

by Alex Hales
Everything to Know About Hypothyroidism

When you have hypothyroidism, your thyroid gland produces insufficient amounts of a few important hormones. In its initial stages, hypothyroidism doesn’t show any obvious symptoms. Over time, untreated hypothyroidism can lead to various health issues, including obesity, joint pain, infertility, and heart disease.

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Depending on the severity of the hormone deficiency, there are different indications and symptoms of hypothyroidism. The development of problems is frequently stagnant and takes several years.

The early signs of hypothyroidism, such as weight gain and tiredness, could go unnoticed. Alternately, you could merely blame ageing for them. However, you can experience more obvious problems as your metabolism starts to slow. 

Among the indications and symptoms of hypothyroidism are:

  • Fatigue
  • Higher sensitivity to cold
  • Constipation
  • Gaining weight 
  • Gaining weight 
  • swollen face
  • Hoarseness
  • Muscle stiffness
  • Increased blood cholesterol
  • Joint pain, stiffness, or inflammation
  • irregular or heavier-than-normal menstrual cycles
  • Thinning hair
  • Decreasing heart rate
  • Depression
  • Impaired memory
  • Enlarged thyroid gland (goitre)

Hypothyroidism in infants

Although middle-aged and older women are most frequently affected by hypothyroidism, anybody, even infants, can get this condition. Babies born without a thyroid gland or with a thyroid gland that isn’t functioning properly may not exhibit many symptoms at first. 

  • The whites of the eyes and skin become yellow (jaundice). The majority of the time, this happens when a baby’s liver cannot process bilirubin, a chemical that normally develops as the body recycles old or broken red blood cells.
  • A large, protruding tongue.
  • Trouble breathing
  • Loud crying
  • An umbilical hernia.

Infants with the condition may have difficulty feeding and may not grow and develop appropriately. They might also have:

  • Constipation
  • Muscle tone issues
  • Extreme tiredness

Even moderate cases of newborn hypothyroidism can cause serious physical and mental impairment if untreated.

Teenagers and children with hypothyroidism

The signs and symptoms of hypothyroidism in children and adolescents are generally the same as in adults. However, they may also include:

  • Short stature resulting from poor growth.
  • Permanent teeth form more slowly than normal
  • Delayed puberty
  • Undeveloped mental capacity

Causes of hypothyroidism

Your body’s chemical processes may be out of balance if your thyroid isn’t producing enough hormones. There are numerous potential reasons, including autoimmune diseases, medicines, radiation therapy, thyroid surgery, and treatments for hyperthyroidism.

The thyroid is a tiny gland with a butterfly-like structure located at the front of your neck, directly below your Adam’s apple. Triiodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine (T4), two thyroid hormones, profoundly affect your health and regulate every element of your metabolism. These hormones also influence vital processes like controlling heart rate and body temperature. 

When the thyroid gland is unable to produce enough hormones, hypothyroidism develops. There are numerous potential causes of hypothyroidism, including:

  1. Autoimmune illness
    An autoimmune condition called Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is the most typical cause of hypothyroidism. Autoimmune illnesses develop when your immune system creates antibodies that target your own tissues. Your thyroid gland is occasionally involved in this process.
    Although scientists are unsure of the exact cause, they believe a mix of elements, including your genes and an environmental trigger, may be at play. Regardless of how it occurs, these antibodies interfere with the thyroid’s capacity to produce hormones.
  2. Over-response to treatment for hyperthyroidism.
    Radioactive iodine or anti-thyroid medicines are frequently used to treat people who produce too much thyroid hormone (hyperthyroidism). The purpose of these treatments is to restore normal thyroid function. However, treating hyperthyroidism occasionally has the unintended effect of permanently reducing thyroid hormone production.
  3. Thyroid operation
    Hormone production can be reduced or stopped if all or a significant piece of your thyroid gland is removed. If so, you will require thyroid hormone for the rest of your life.
  4. Radiation treatment
    Your thyroid gland may be harmed by radiation used to treat head and neck malignancies, which could result in hypothyroidism.
  5. Medications
    Several drugs may be a factor in hypothyroidism. Lithium is one such drug that is used to treat specific psychiatric conditions. Ask your doctor about the medication’s impact on your thyroid gland if you take one.

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