The most common disease of the thyroid especially in women is hypothyroidism or low production of the thyroid hormones. This causes the slowing down of all the mechanisms of the body making you listless, fatigued, cold and depressed.
What causes an under active thyroid?
There are a number of reasons for the thyroid to function below par. Firstly, if the body is not getting enough iodine, the thyroid can’t produce enough thyroid hormone. The low hormone production in the thyroid will cause the pituitary to produce more TSH. This can cause the thyroid to become enlarged. An enlarged thyroid, one that is visible as a swelling over the neck is called a goitre. Goitre used to be pretty common earlier because of a lack of iodine in the diet especially in adolescents but with the trend of iodine-fortified salts and food it has become comparatively uncommon.
Aging is another big risk factor for hypothyroidism. As we age the hormone production by the thyroid begins to decline. Another factor is genetics. Thyroid disease often runs in families. So a careful examination of the family history is required. If you have a first-degree relative (a parent, sibling or child) with thyroid disease, it would make sense to get your thyroid evaluated.
Another reason for the thyroid to be under-active is autoimmune disease. An auto immune disease means that the defense mechanisms of the body which normally attack foreign cells mistakenly start attacking the body's own tissues. Sometimes, the thyroid comes under such an assault.
Sometimes the thyroid has to be surgically removed for medical reasons causing hypothyroidism as a consequence. Also if the thyroid has been exposed to radiation or has been compromised chemically as in lithium intake, it will result in hypothyroidism.
Excessive iodide as in cold and sinus medicines, heart medicine amiodarone, or certain contrast dyes given before some X-rays can expose a person to too much iodine. This can cause the thyroid to not function optimally.
Whatever may be the reason for a low functioning thyroid it must be diagnosed and treated properly. If left untreated it causes a poor quality of health and vitality in the patient. Further, it can cause serious health problems such as elevated cholesterol and heart disease. It can also make the patient go into a coma.
Symptoms of Hypothyroidism?
Hypothyroidism can cause such a vast array of symptoms that often it becomes difficult to diagnose. Many symptoms may be hidden or mimic other diseases and conditions, compounding the difficulty. The best way to know for sure is to get the TSH levels checked.
The symptoms can include : constant fatigue, unexplained weight gain, feeling listless and depressed, dryness of skin and hair, intolerance of the cold, memory lapses, slower heart rate and a sluggish bowel. Moreover, in women it can cause menstrual problems.
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