When you lose control of your thyroid function, your body metabolism may run havoc. The implication of insufficient thyroid hormone in the body is the occurrence of a medical condition called hypothyroidism. The insufficiency of thyroid hormones in the body is fairly common and not everyone with the condition know they have hypothyroidism.
Significance of hypothyroidism
About 10% of the American population has hypothyroidism and it is most common among women. Unfortunately, the condition is usually underdiagnosed. Rarely does the condition results in serious complications, but when it does it can cause coma, heart failure and severe depression. These complications occur when hypothyroidism is left untreated and progresses.
The pituitary gland releases more thyroid stimulating hormone in response to the normal release of thyroid hormone in the body. If there is insufficient amount of thyroid hormone, increased levels of the thyroid stimulating hormone is produced, thereby causing thyroid gland enlargement that forms a goiter. This condition is often termed as compensatory goiter.
Hypothyroidism is a manageable and treatable condition. It is easily diagnosed by a simple blood test, but in the presence of other medical conditions, your doctor will require a detail laboratory examinations and test to confirm a diagnosis. Drug treatment is the main course of treatment but it may not always an ideal treatment in certain cases. Every individual with hypothyroidism may need a specific therapy under their circumstances.
The cause of hypothyroidism
There are two known causes of hypothyroidism namely the inflammation of the thyroiod gland and autoimmune thyroiditis. The first cause is currently under study where the inflammation of the thyroid gland may leave a large portion of the thryroid cells highly damaged and non-functional that prevents the sufficient production of the thyroid hormone. The autoimmune thyroiditis is caused by the body's own immune system that causes the thyroid gland to inflame. This condition is also called Hashimoto's thyroiditis and is covered by a broad spectrum of medical treatment for hypothyroidism.
Surgical removal of the thyroid gland is often warranted in Hashimoto's thyroiditis. This is to prevent hypothyroidism from occurring when there is already insufficient amount of thyroid hormone that is being supplied according to the body's needs owing to the extent of the damage to the thyroid cells. In certain causes, the presence of nodules to the thryroid gland may also indicate surgery. In this case, only a portion of the thyroid gland that is affected by the nodule growth is removed and the rest of the intact portion of the gland work effectively in producing thyroid hormones. When smaller amount of the thyroid gland is left, however, it may not release sufficient hormones over the years eventually.
Hypothyroidism may also be caused by a non-functional pituitary gland. Under this condition, the thyroiod gland is normal but the thyroid gland will not produce enough thyroid hormone when the pituitary gland does not work to produce thyroid stimulating hormones that induces its release of the thyroid hormones.
Symptoms of hypothyroidism
Hypothyroidism manifest itself through various symptoms. This includes the feeling of wekness and fatigue, dry hair, loss of hair, weight gain, dry skin, difficulty to lose weight, depression, constipation, irritability, cold intolerance, muscular ache, muscle cramps, memory loss, abnormal menstrual cycle and decreased libido.
The extent of the symptoms usually vary depending upon the length of time that the body fails to produce the thyroid hormone. The extent of the thyroid hormone deficiency will also dictate the severity of the symptoms. Not all of these symptoms are present in every individual with hypothyroidism. In certain cases, a combination of these symptoms may be experienced by one patient while others may have only one or two of these symptoms. Occasionally, patients with the condition rarely manifest any symptoms, making them unaware that they have hypothyroidism.
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