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Hypothyroidism

Written by Courteney

Posted on March 29, 2016 at 6:18 pm

Your thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland at the base of your neck that produces hormones which help control important bodily functions such as your metabolism, growth, appetite, heartbeat and reproductive health. More than 12% of the American population will develop some kind of a thyroid condition during their lifetimes; these conditions are more prevalent in females. There are many ways your thyroid can malfunction but the two main conditions are hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism.

Hypothyroidism

People with hypothyroidism output abnormally low amounts of the proper hormones from the thyroid gland, resulting in a myriad of unpleasant symptoms and related health problems. Usually without proper medical treatment people with hypothyroidism cannot produce enough hormones to keep the body functioning efficiently. Some causes include underlying autoimmune diseases such as Lupus or Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, surgical removal of the thyroid gland, certain medications, radiation treatment or an iodine imbalance.

Symptoms of Hypothyroidism

Signs and symptoms of the disorder include:

  • Irregular periods
  • Weight gain even without increasing diet
  • Feelings of depression
  • Fatigue
  • Skin changes (pale or dry)
  • Hair loss
  • Slow heartrate
  • Puffiness in the face
  • Chronic constipation

While many of these symptoms are broad and can be related to many other illnesses, if you are experiencing several of these you should certainly talk to your doctor or one of our highly qualified DocChat physicians. The doctor will order blood tests to determine if your thyroid is underactive. Severe hypothyroidism will need to be treated immediately, as in rare cases it can lead to a life-threatening myxedema coma.

Treatment

Treatment for hypothyroidism includes thyroid medications such as levothyroxine; it may take a while to find the right balance with these medications. Too high of a dose can cause symptoms of hyperthyroidism such as elevated or irregular heartbeat, tremors or insomnia. Follow-up blood tests will be conducted after a couple months to ensure your thyroid levels are healthy, and then about once a year as maintenance. These tests can help find the right medication balance by catching your levels if they rise or drop too much. People with heart disease will often start with a low dose of some of these medications as they have the unlikely potential to worsen some conditions.

Pregnancy And Hypothyroidism

It is particularly important for pregnant women suffering from hypothyroidism to get treatment right away as the condition can adversely affect the developing fetus. Pregnant women’s hormone levels will need to be closely monitored so the correct dose of medication is ensured. In some cases the condition may disappear after pregnancy, but sometimes it is a lifelong affliction. If you are pregnant and have some of the symptoms of hypothyroidism, it can’t hurt to visit your doctor to make sure you don’t have the condition.

Stay tuned later today to read our next post on the thyroid, ‘Hyperthyroidism’.

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