Hypothyroidism is a condition in which the thyroid gland, which helps regulate metabolism and other bodily functions, is underactive. With this condition, the body doesn’t produce enough thyroid hormone, which means it is low on energy. This results in many wide-ranging symptoms. If you believe you may have hypothyroidism, take the time to learn about how it occurs, what its signs are, and how it is diagnosed and treated.
Causes of Hypothyroidism
Hypothyroidism can be caused by many different factors. Inflammation of the thyroid gland, known as Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, is the most common cause of the condition. Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is an autoimmune disorder in which the body’s immune system attacks the thyroid, leading to inflammation that disrupts thyroid function.
Other potential causes include a viral infection, previous radiation therapy to the neck area where the thyroid gland is located, previous radioactive iodine treatment, previous thyroid surgery, and the use of certain medications. A lack of iodine in the diet can also lead to thyroid issues, but this is rare in the United States. This nutrient is found in table salt, shellfish, saltwater fish, eggs, dairy products, and seaweed.
Symptoms and Diagnosis
This condition may manifest with any combination of the following symptoms:
-Menstrual cycle changes
-Dry skin and hair
-Unexplained weight gain
-Difficulty losing weight despite lifestyle changes
-Slowed heart rate
-Swollen thyroid gland
-Carpal tunnel syndrome
-Sensitivity to cold temperatures
In infants with congenital hypothyroidism, there are often no symptoms. If you are experiencing the symptoms above and we suspect hypothyroidism during your consultation, our medical professional will check for abnormal levels of thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) and T4 (thyroxine). If issues are detected, a thyroid ultrasound may be used to confirm the diagnosis by looking for nodules or inflammation.
Hypothyroidism is treated with synthetic thyroid hormone T4, taken daily in pill form. You’ll also need to undergo regular blood tests to ensure your hormone levels remain normal, as well as medication adjustments when necessary. Left untreated, hypothyroidism can lead to serious complications, including cardiac problems, obesity, infertility, joint pain, and even coma or death. In pregnant women, low thyroid hormone levels can have a severe impact on the health of the growing baby.
Set up a time to visit Envoque MD if you are experiencing concerning symptoms such as those described above. We will conduct the appropriate tests to confirm the presence of hypothyroidism and develop a treatment plan personalized for your needs. If you have this condition, you don’t have to live with the symptoms. Our experts can help. Contact us today at either of our offices in Scottsdale or Mesa to schedule your consultation and get started.