The thyroid gland is one of the largest endocrine glands in the body. It is stated in the neck, below the thyroid cartilage, or the Adam’s apple, and at the same level as the cricoids cartilage. The thyroid gland plays an important role in a couple of essential bodily processes such as making the proteins, determining the rate at which body uses energy, and controlling the sensitivity to other hormones.
Low thyroid levels
Low production of thyroid hormones, T3 and T4, is medically known as hypothyroidism. Hypothyroidism occurs as a result of inactive or under-active thyroid gland and includes a great number of symptoms. This condition is very common, and it is estimated that approximately 10 million Americans suffer from low thyroid levels. Thyroid abnormalities are more common in women, and as many as 10% of all women seems to have some sort of thyroid deficiency.
Signs and symptoms of hypothyroidism
Hypothyroidism includes a wide range of possible symptoms. The number of symptoms and their severity depends on the severity of the thyroid deficiency. In some patients, one symptom will be dominant while the others may appear in milder forms, or not appear at all. However, there is a significant portion of completely asymptomatic patients in which this disorder may go unnoticed.
Symptoms of low thyroid levels include tiredness, excessive weight gain, dry hair and skin, hair loss, inability to tolerate cold, muscle cramps, problems with digestion, lower cognitive functions, depression, irritability, memory loss, abnormal menstrual cycles, and decreased sexual desire.
Causes of hypothyroidism
Low thyroid levels are most commonly caused by one of the two predominant health conditions. First condition is known as Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. In this condition, hypothyroidism results from a previous inflammation of the thyroid gland. This leaves the cells of the thyroid gland dead or damaged, and incapable to produce sufficient levels of hormone.
The second most probable cause of hypothyroidism is iodine deficiency. The body is unable to synthesize iodine, and must get it from the daily diet. Iodine is an element that is essential for the production of thyroid hormone. Iodine deficiency can lead to the enlargement of the thyroid gland or even to mental retardation in infants and children whose mothers were iodine deficient during pregnancy.
Treatment of low thyroid levels
Persons who have been experiencing symptoms of hypothyroidism should consult a doctor and get the thyroid blood test. In treatment of hypothyroidism doctors usually prescribe synthetic thyroxine pills as a substitute for normal thyroid hormone. If the condition develops as an effect of iodine deficiency, patient will be advised to include foods rich in iodine and selenium to the daily diet.