Hypothyroidism

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Overview

Hypothyroidism is a disorder in which the levels of thyroid hormones in the blood are below normal limits. Since the thyroid hormones are very important in maintaining the metabolism of the body, any decrease in the levels of these hormones, leads to significant slowing of the metabolic rate.

Causes

Hypothyroidism has many various causes:

  • Autoimmune destruction of thyroid gland
  • Treatment of hyperthyroidism (Antithyroid medications)
  • Surgical removal of thyroid gland
  • Medications (Lithium)
  • Congenital disorder of the thyroid gland
  • Pituitary disorders
  • Iodine deficiency
  • Pregnancy

Symptoms

Since the symptoms of a slowed down metabolism are somewhat general, and can be attributed to other things, it’s easy to miss them early on in the disease. The following are the symptoms of hypothyroidism:

  • Fatigue
  • Weight gain despite decreased appetite
  • Sleepiness
  • Increased sensitivity to cold
  • Dry skin
  • Constipation
  • Puffy face
  • Muscle weakness
  • Irregular periods
  • Slow heart rate
  • Depression

Diagnosis

For the diagnosis of hypothyroidism, the main test is to detect the levels of the thyroid hormones in the blood. These are called thyroid function tests:

  • T3 levels
  • T4 levels
  • TSH levels

Treatment

Treatment of hypothyroidism is simply to replace the deficient thyroid hormones with synthetic thyroid hormones, such as, Levothyroxine. This oral medication leads to the thyroid hormone levels to become normal, and restore adequate body functions.

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