Recognizing and Understanding Hypothyroidism Symptoms
Hypothyroidism certainly is a mouthful, and it’s not exactly a household term when it comes to medical conditions either. More than a few people will almost certainly be asking what hypothyroidism is, and the best way to begin answering that is to define what a thyroid is and the function it serves in the body. The thyroid gland is an endocrine gland in the neck just below the Adam’s apple, and it’s integrally involved in regulating the body’s metabolic rate and its ability to synthesize proteins. Hypothyroidism is when the gland doesn’t produce enough its hormones, and hypothyroidism symptoms will be seen soon after.
The most primary of all hypothyroidism causes is iodine deficiency, and when this deficiency is neglected for an extended period of time then intellectual disabilities may be seen in the individual. Let’s look at those hypothyroidism causes in great detail, and as well as more about the different symptoms of hypothyroidism.
It’s helpful to understand that hypothyroidism symptoms can also be experienced as a result of inflammation of the thyroid gland. This inflammation typically develops slowly over a long period of time and symptoms of hypothyroidism are only noticeable once hypothyroid disease is advanced. However, the most common of hypothyroidism symptoms is autoimmune thyroiditis. This is also called Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, and it results when the individual’s immune system actually begins to attack the thyroid gland and forces it to become inflamed.
Hypothyroidism can also be caused by certain medical treatments, and most commonly this is when treatment of other thyroid conditions requires a surgeon to remove some portion of the thyroid. Most people who undergo this type of surgery will still have enough of their thyroid remaining to produce the amount of hormones required to avoid hypothyroidism symptoms, but others will develop hypothyroidism because the portion of their thyroid remaining isn’t capable of producing enough. Surgery for thyroid cancer and radioactive iodine therapy for benign conditions are the most common of these instances.
It’s fair to say that hypothyroidism symptoms are hard to ignore for anyone who’s in the process of developing this condition. These symptoms will usually increase in intensity depending on how advanced their hypothyroid disease is, and most sufferers will have a combination of these symptoms. Some, however, may have no hypothyroidism symptoms at all.
Hypothyroidism symptoms include:
- General body weakness or chronic fatigue
- Weight gain, or unexplained difficulty losing weight
- Dry, rough, and pale skin
- Coarse, dry hair
- Hair loss
- Less tolerance to cold temperatures than previously
- Muscle cramps and frequent muscle aches
- Memory loss
- Decreased libido
- Abnormal menstrual cycles
Experiencing one or more of these hypothyroidism symptoms may require the individual to see an endocrinologist in addition to their regular general physician.
Symptoms of hypothyroidism need to be given some measure of seriousness when people begin to experience them, because there are very real dangers that are possible with the condition. When the thyroid’s hormone-producing capacity is inhibited, the pituitary gland secretes even more thyroid-stimulating hormone to attempt to promote more thyroid activity. The pituitary gland does so unaware that the thyroid is no longer capable of producing a sufficient amount of thyroid hormones.
What can happen is that the thyroid gland can be come enlarged, and this is one of the hypothyroidism symptoms that’s not identifiable in the way the ones listed above are. When the thyroid becomes enlarged then there is the risk of developing a goiter and complications from this can lead heart failure, coma, or severe depression.
As mentioned, the symptoms of hypothyroidism are nearly always significant enough to lead a person to seek a diagnosis and then treat their condition. Hypothyroidism symptoms and hypothyroid disease can be treated effectively. For most people a synthetic thyroid replacement medication like Synthroid (Levothyroxine) or Tapazole (Methimazole) is all they need to get their hypothyroidism under control. These pills are taken once a day, and first thing in the morning. These medications come in different strengths, and your physician and / or endocrinologist will be able to determine which one is best for you.
For treatment of goiters developing from hypothyroidism, Thyroid Armour is a prescription medication that is very effective. It is helpful to note that the while most patients will notice a moderate reduction in their hypothyroidism symptoms within 1 to 2 weeks of starting medication, the full metabolic response to thyroid hormone therapy is often delayed for a month or two. If you’re not seeing a speedy reduction in your symptoms of hypothyroidism, you can understand that this is entirely normal and you likely will enjoy relief between 4 to 8 weeks in.
After roughly one month of treatment with hypothyroid medication, your physician will give you a blood test to measure thyroid hormone levels and see if yours are now more in line with normal ones. Provided that’s the case, you will most likely see your hypothyroidism symptoms diminish to more manageable levels. One last note is that women who are pregnant need to discuss the suitability of T4 thyroid medication for pregnant women with their doctor, as it may not be appropriate for them to start taking the meds until after they have given birth.
Hypothyroidism is fortunately a very treatable health condition, and as such anyone who has a thyroid hormone level deficiency shouldn’t be overly concerned about risks to their long-term health.