The thyroid gland is the human body’s largest endocrine gland. This butterfly-shaped endocrine organ is in charge of controlling the body’s metabolic processes and cellular respiration.
Thyroid hormones triiodothyronine (T3) and tetraiodothyronine – thyroxine are produced by the thyroid gland (T4). The secretion of thyroid hormones into the bloodstream enables the smooth running of metabolic processes at the cellular level.
Hyperthyroidism is characterized by increased thyroid function and excessive thyroid hormone release, whereas hypothyroidism is characterized by decreased thyroid hormone secretion.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS AND SIGNS OF HYPOTHYROIDISM?
Decreased thyroid function can cause the following symptoms and signs:
- Lack of energy;
- Brittle and dry hair;
- Hair loss;
- Dry skin;
- Brittle nails;
- Weight gain despite decreased appetite;
- Difficulty losing excess weight;
- Constipation (constipation);
- Cold intolerance;
- Muscle and joint pain;
- Muscle cramps;
- Swelling of the arms and legs;
- Memory impairment;
- Difficulty concentrating;
- Swelling around the eyes;
- Menstrual disorders in women and impotence in men;
- Decreased libido;
The clinical picture of diminished thyroid function is unique to each person and may include a varied combination of any of the symptoms and indicators listed above. The severity of the symptoms is determined by the disease’s severity (how much is the lack of thyroid hormones, how long is the period of hormonal deficiency, etc.).
There may be no symptoms or they may be quite mild in some cases, therefore the disease can go unnoticed for years. Consult your doctor or a specialized endocrinologist if you have any of the above symptoms.
WHAT HAPPENS IF HYPOTHYROIDISM IS NOT TREATED?
Early detection and treatment of hypothyroidism can lead to:
1.Goiter. Because the body requires thyroid hormones but does not produce enough due to hypothyroidism, the body secretes more of another hormone known as TSH (thyroid-stimulating hormone). The purpose of this hormone is to encourage the thyroid gland to produce more thyroid hormones. An enlarged thyroid gland and goiter can result from TSH “bombardment” of the thyroid gland.
2.Cardiac issues. Thyroid dysfunction can lead to heart difficulties. Thyroid hormone deficiency raises LDL (bad cholesterol) levels, which can lead to a heart attack. Hypothyroidism can also lead to pericardial effusion (fluid surrounding the heart), which makes the heart work harder.
3.Infertility. If the level of thyroid hormones is extremely low, it can affect ovulation and consequently the woman may have difficulty conceiving.
4.Peripheral neuropathy. Pain, tingling, and decreased sensitivity to touch are just some of the symptoms that may indicate that untreated hypothyroidism has caused damage to peripheral nerves. Symptoms most often occur on the hands and feet.
5.Health problems in newborns. If a woman is pregnant and has a thyroid disease for which she is not receiving appropriate therapy, the likelihood of the baby having intellectual and developmental problems is significantly higher. Newborns with thyroid hormone deficiency are at serious risk of retarding physical and mental development. Fortunately, with timely detection of the condition and appropriate therapy, the risk is virtually eliminated.
6.Myxedem. It is a condition that occurs in people with severe, untreated hypothyroidism. In addition to generalized edema, there is heart failure, pericardial effusion, hyponatraemia, decreased intestinal motility, and coma.
HOW IS HYPOTHYROIDISM DIAGNOSED?
Due to the different clinical picture of the disease, diagnosing hypothyroidism can be a major medical challenge. To make an accurate diagnosis, it is necessary to take a good history and make a detailed physical examination. For a definitive diagnosis, it is necessary to perform additional laboratory tests for T3, T4 and TSH levels.
Treatment for hypothyroidism consists of daily intake of synthetically produced thyroid hormones. A period of time must elapse before determining the appropriate dose for a particular patient.
Oral therapy for hypothyroidism is taken for life.