When the thyroid gland is affected, leading to the thyroid disorder of an underactive nature, it is termed as hypothyroidism. The thyroid gland which is found in the lower portion of the neck is critical to the proper functioning of the human body’s metabolism. In simple words, the thyroid hormone being released by this gland has to travel throughout the body to help in the use of energy gained from the food consumed and to keep the vital parameters such as the heartbeat in the right condition. When some antibodies attack the thyroid gland, and don’t permit it to release adequate amounts of hormones into the system, the hypothyroid condition results.
The Causes for Hypothyroidism
An inflammation caused to the thyroid gland can result in this condition. This is an auto-immune disorder, in the sense that some internal factors can trigger this inflammation. Medically, the inflammation is termed “thyroiditis”. There are also other factors that can cause hypothyroidism. These include radiation therapy. If the therapy has been administered near the neck area and the rays have penetrated to the thyroid gland, the inflammation can occur. Even those suffering from hyperthyroidism, the overactive form of thyroid and given radioactive iodine treatment can suffer from this condition due to the damage caused to the gland. Lastly, certain specific medications, if consumed regularly, can cause the condition.
Particular Sections of the Community at Risk
While there is no strict division among the population on vulnerability to be affected by hypothyroidism, research has indicated that women, and that too older women, may be more at risk. Men may be at a lower risk. Besides this, there are other profiles such as race and age which can also have a bearing on the level of risk. Of particular significance is that people who already suffer from autoimmune disorders are more likely to suffer from hypothyroidism than others.
Symptoms and Diagnosis
Many symptoms might not be unique to the hypothyroidism condition and can be misleading. Constipation, depression, hair loss and fatigue are some of them and an experienced medical practitioner will weigh the other factors, including the profiles explained above to reach the proper conclusion. The conventional TSH (thyroid-stimulating hormone) and T-4 (thyroxine) blood tests will be advised by the physician and the results should provide a reasonable confirmation of the condition. If doubts still persist an ultrasound or scan can also be ordered.
As mentioned, for the body’s metabolism to function normally, it is essential that the thyroid gland releases the thyroid hormone in sufficient quantities. Treatment of hypothyroidism is therefore very essential. The most frequently followed treatment is to prescribe regular intake of the synthetic thyroid hormone called T4. It is usually available in the form of a pill and has to be taken daily. The physician will know the concentration and dosage to be advised. Periodically testing your blood is necessary to monitor the levels.