HYPOTHYROIDISM/HASHIMOTO’S DISEASE: Too Little Thyroid Hormone
Hypothyroidism is a condition where the thyroid is underactive, chemically destroyed, or surgically removed, and therefore unable to produce sufficient levels of thyroid hormone. A person with mild hypothyroidism may feel just fine â€” in fact, the condition might cause no symptoms at all. However, symptoms can become more obvious if hypothyroidism progresses. Hypothyroidism is usually easily diagnosed with a physical examination and blood tests. People with underactive thyroids might feel depressed and sluggish. They might gain weight, even though they’re not eating more or getting less exercise than usual
Treatment of Hashimotoâ€™s disease, the autoimmune condition that often results in hypothyroidism, is more controversial. Some practitioners believe that Hashimotoâ€™s requires no treatment, and will only treat a patient with thyroid hormone replacement drugs. There is some evidence that treating Hashimotoâ€™s disease with thyroid hormone replacement drugs before the thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) level rises may alleviate some symptoms.
Defects in the production of thyroid hormone: Hashimoto’s thyroiditis occurs when there are defects in the production of thyroid hormone, resulting in an increased amount of TSH. The increased TSH results in a goiter (enlargement of the thyroid gland itself that can be seen as an obvious swelling in the front of the neck).
The most common cause of thyroid gland failure is called autoimmune thyroiditis (also called Hashimoto’s thyroiditis), a form of thyroid inflammation caused by the patient’s own immune system. Growth, development, metabolism, organ function, fertility and body temperature; these are all vital body functions we tend to take for granted. It may come as quite a surprise then, that the regulation of these vital tasks is due to one tiny endocrine gland â€“ the thyroid – located in your neck just below your Adam’s apple.
The treatment of many thyroid conditions warrants surgical removal of a portion or all of the thyroid gland. Sometimes, this remaining thyroid lobe and isthmus will produce enough hormone to meet the demands of the body. Similarly, goiters and some other thyroid conditions can be treated with radioactive iodine therapy. If the pituitary does not produce enough thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) then the thyroid simply does not have the “signal” to make hormone.
- Loss of thyroid tissue: Treatment of hyperthyroidism by radioactive destruction of thyroid tissue or surgical removal of thyroid tissue can result in hypothyroidism.
- Antithyroid antibodies: These may be present in people who have diabetes, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, chronic hepatitis, or Sjogren’s syndrome. These antibodies may cause decreased production of thyroid hormones.
- Congenital: Hypothyroidism can be present from birth. This is commonly discovered early with nationwide newborn screening for this disease.
Symptoms of Hypothyroidism
- Weight gain or increased difficulty losing weight
- Coarse, dry hair
- Dry, rough pale skin
- Hair loss
- Cold intolerance (you can’t tolerate cold temperatures like those around you)
- Muscle cramps and frequent muscle aches
- Memory loss
- Abnormal menstrual cycles
- Decreased libido