Hypothyroidism is a medical condition characterized by low production of the thyroid hormones. Thyroid gland is responsible for production of two important hormones: thyroxine T4 and triiodothyronine T3. These hormones play a significant role in maintaining optimum bodily functions on various levels, from metabolic functions to sensitivity to other hormones. Hypothyroidism may cause radical changes in the body such as obesity, joint pain, infertility and heart disease.
Women are more prone to develop health conditions related to the abnormal functioning of the thyroid gland, especially those older than the age of 50. However, this serious health condition strikes men as well.
What causes hypothyroidism in men?
Hypothyroidism in men may occur for a couple of known reasons. The most likely cause of hypothyroidism is the condition known as Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. This health problem is an autoimmune condition in which body’s immune system mistakes thyroid gland for a foreign object and attack the gland to destroy it. The resulting effects are dead or damaged cells of thyroid gland, unable to produce sufficient levels of thyroid hormone. Hashimoto’s thyroiditis may be caused due to the problems with the pituitary gland, or may be simply genetically inherited disorder.
Another known cause of hypothyroidism in men is the iodine deficiency. Inadequate intake of dietary iodine can lead to an enlarged thyroid gland and other serious health disorders. Our bodies need iodine to make thyroid hormones, but it can be obtained only trough the diet. Iodine is found in seafood, iodized salt and some vegetables.
Symptoms of hypothyroidism in men
Hypothyroidism is a health condition that develops gradually, over a long period of time. Signs and symptoms of the disease may not always be present, especially in the earlier stages. Moreover, symptoms may vary from patient to patient, and one of the symptoms may seem to be predominant while the others are mild or not present at all.
Symptoms of hypothyroidism in men usually include a loss of appetite combined with unexplained weight gain, constipation, tiredness, dry hair and fingernails, loss of hair and thinning of the eyebrows, pain and cramps in the muscles, changes in memory and cognitive capacity, frequent mood swings, irritability and depression. Low thyroid levels in men may cause severe sexual dysfunction and loss of sexual desire. Patients suffering from hypothyroidism may complain of delayed or premature ejaculation or complete erectile dysfunction.
Treatment of hypothyroidism
Hypothyroidism is usually treated with synthetic replacement hormone medicine. Patients may spot the improvement in their health condition within the first week of treatment and it usually takes a couple of months for all symptoms to disappear. Diet rich in iodine is also helpful in treatment of low thyroid levels.