Hypothyroidism is a underactive thyroid gland means that the thyroid gland can’t make enough thyroid hormone to keep the body running normally. People are hypothyroid if they have too little thyroid hormone in the blood. Common causes are autoimmune disease, surgical removal of the thyroid, and radiation treatment.
Signs and symptoms of hypothyroidism
Symptoms of hypothyroidism develop slowly, often over several years. At first, you may feel tired and sluggish. Later, you may develop other signs and symptoms of a slowed-down metabolism, including:
- Cold intolerance
- Muscle weakness
- Weight gain despite of not eating more food
- Joint or muscle pain
- Feeling sad or depressed
- Feeling very tired
- Dry skin
- Dry, thinning of hairs
- Slow heart rate
- Less sweating than usual
- A puffy face
- A hoarse voice
- Heavy or irregular menstrual periods and fertility problems
Hypothyroidism poses a special danger to newborns and infants. A lack of thyroid hormones in the system at an early age can lead to the development of cretinism (mental retardation) and dwarfism (stunted growth),therefore most infants now have their thyroid levels checked routinely soon after birth. If they are hypothyroid, treatment begins immediately.
To diagnose hypothyroidism, your doctor will look at your symptoms, physical exam and blood tests.Because the symptoms are so variable and non-specific, the only way to know for sure whether you have hypothyroidism is with a simple blood test for TSH and T4. An abnormally high TSH means hypothyroidism: the thyroid gland is being asked to make more T4 because there isn’t enough T4 in the blood.
Hypothyroidism is a lifelong condition, but taking thyroid hormone pills every day can prevent related health problems. Synthetic T4 (Levothyroxine) is the best medicine for hypothyroidism because it works the same way as your own thyroid hormone. Finding the right dose of thyroid hormone may take time. Your starting dose depends upon your weight, age, and medical conditions. After 6 to 8 weeks, your doctor will check your blood hormone levels. If needed, the amount of hormone will be adjusted until tests show that you are taking the right amount. You should get a checkup at least once a year to make sure your dose of thyroid hormone is still right for you.
The goal of treatment is to get and keep your TSH in the normal range, so you’ll need to have your TSH checked about every 6 to 10 weeks after a thyroxine dose change. You may need tests more often if you’re pregnant or you’re taking a medicine that interferes with your body’s ability to use thyroxine. Babies with hypothyroidism must get all their daily treatments and have their TSH levels checked as they grow, to prevent mental retardation and stunted growth. Once you’ve settled into a thyroxine dose, you may need TSH tests about once a year.
See your doctor if you have these conditions
- Your symptoms not improving or getting worse.
- You want to change your thyroxine dose or brand, or change taking your pills with or without food or want to stop the treatment if you think you are doing well. Rather than stopping your pills completely, you might ask your doctor to try lowering your dose. If your TSH goes up, you need to continue treatment.
- You gain or lose a lot of weight (as little as a 10-pound difference for those who weren’t overweight to begin with).
- You start or stop taking a drug or changing dose of the drug that can interfere with absorbing thyroxine (such as certain antacids, calcium supplements and iron tablets). Medications containing estrogen also impact thyroxine doses, so any change in such a medication should prompt a re-evaluation of your thyroxine dose.
- You’re not taking all your thyroxine pills regular.
Foods should be avoided
Soy – The hormone estrogen can interfere with your body’s ability to use thyroid hormone, Soy is loaded with plant-based phytoestrogen, and some researchers believe too much soy may increase a person’s risk for hypothyroidism. However, because soy hasn’t been definitively linked to hypothyroidism, there are no specific dietary guidelines.
Vegetables (Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, kale, turnips )can interfere with the production of thyroid hormone, particularly people who have an iodine deficiency. Cooking the vegetables can reduce the effect that cruciferous vegetables have on the thyroid gland. Limiting your intake to 5 ounces a day appears to have no adverse effect on thyroid function. Gluten, junk foods, coffee, alcohol also should be avoided.