What Is Hypothyroidism?
Hypothyroidism is characterized by an underactive thyroidgland, which doesn’t produce enough of its hormones. Women after the age of 50 arefound to be at an increased risk of developing this condition. A person sufferingfrom some autoimmune diseases or someone whose close family member hadautoimmune disease is also discovered to be exposed to an increased risk of hypothyroidism.Patients treated with anti-thyroid drugs or radioactive iodine forhyperthyroidism or those who had thyroid surgery are also considered to be atrisk to develop hypothyroidism. Radiation of the neck or upper part of thechest may also mean that you are now at a higher risk for development of thismedical condition.
Consequences of Untreated Hypothyroidism
It is very rare to see any signs in the early days of hypothyroidismbut the condition is known to progress and it can cause many health problems. Goiter,heart problems peripheral neuropathy and myxedema are just some of thepotential issues. Patients who haven’t been treated for hypothyroidism may alsoexperience some mental health difficulties or infertility. Pregnant women whosehypothyroidism was not properly managed may give birth to children with certain birthdefects.
Goiter is caused by the constant stimulation of the thyroidgland to produce more hormones. Constant stimulation leads to this enlargementof the thyroid gland. Besides being an esthetic problem, large goiter may negativelyaffect your breathing and swallowing.
Hypothyroidism may cause increase of the “bad” (LDL)cholesterol and provoke many heart problems.
Peripheral neuropathy is often seen in these patients andthey experience tingling, numbness or even pain in the areas of the bodyaffected by this complication.
Myxedema occurs in people whose hypothyroidism was nottreated for a very long period of time. This problem is extremely severe andmay end up fatally.
Mental health problems, such as depression and slower mentalfunction are not rare in patients suffering from hypothyroidism.
Hypothyroidism has been known to provoke infertility andcause birth defects in babies born by mothers whose thyroid problem was nottaken care of.
How To Treat Hypothyroidism?
Levothyroxine is a synthetic form of the thyroid hormone usedas the treatment for people suffering from hypothyroidism. People using thesetablets often feel first improvement after a week or two after the start of thetreatment. This drug can increase the level of thyroid hormones in the body,decrease the fatigue and reverse weight gain.
Most patients prescribed with levothyroxine must use it forthe rest of their lives, but the required dose might change from time to time.Your doctor might warn you to avoid calcium and iron supplements, antacid drugswith aluminum hydroxide and cholestyramine, for these drugs and supplements areknown to affect proper absorption of levothyroxine.