Hypothyroidism is a common endocrine disorder that results from the deficiency of the thyroid hormone. The thyroid gland, when unable to produce a sufficient amount of thyroid hormone into the blood, slows down the body’s metabolism (breakdown of food).
A thyroid gland is a small butterfly-shaped gland in the neck, in front of the trachea. It produces hormones triiodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine (T4). These hormones regulate the body’s metabolism.
Hypothyroidism affects both men and women. Meanwhile, it is most common in women who have attained menopause. A severe type of hypothyroidism is life-threatening. Meanwhile, less-severe types are treatable by hormone replacement therapy. There is no way for preventing hypothyroidism because it is an immune system condition.
Hypothyroidism is caused by autoimmune conditions (like Hashimoto’s disease), thyroiditis, iodine deficiency, pituitary gland damage, hypothalamus disorder, pregnancy and certain hypothyroidism treatments.
Symptoms of hypothyroidism are tiredness, sensitivity to cold, elevated cholesterol, goitre, dry scaly skin, weight gain, constipation, slow movement, slow thoughts, brittle hair, brittle nails, depression, loss of sex drive, irregular heavy periods, muscle aches, muscle cramps and drooping eyelids. If left untreated for a long time, symptoms like anaemia, hearing loss, hoarse voice, puffy face and slow heart rate develops.
Complications of hypothyroidism are goitre, pregnancy complications and heart problems.
Laboratory diagnosis of hypothyroidism is by Thyroid Function Test which measures the Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH), Thyroxine (T4) and Triiodothyronine (T3).
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