See All You Need to Know About Hypothyroidism
Hyperthyroidism is a health condition that occurs when the body produces little or no thyroid hormones at all. The thyroid is a gland that has the shape of a butterfly and is located in the neck region. It plays a requisite role in the release of the thyroid hormone that helps the body use and regulates energy.
Almost all the organs of the body have their energy provided and regulated by the thyroid gland. It performs the following functions for vital body organs;
When thyroid hormone is produced or secreted in little amounts in the body, these major organ functions will begin to slow down.
Statistics showed that hypothyroidism affects more women than it affects men, and also, people ages 60 and above tend to suffer from it more.
When a person is diagnosed with hypothyroidism, supplements are given to boost the production of the thyroid hormone. Or recommendation of artificial thyroid hormones that will replace the faulty one and return the body’s processes and organ functions to normal is another suggested option. The treatment of hypothyroidism is usually safe, simple, and effective. The most important thing to do is report symptoms early enough to enhance effective treatment and speedy recovery.
Signs and Symptoms of Hypothyroidism
The symptoms of hypothyroidism vary largely and depend on individuals. In addition, the severity and degree of effect or damage caused to the body by this health condition depend on the kind of symptoms that appear in different individuals.
Some of the first symptoms of hypothyroidism include constant fatigue and weight gain. These symptoms become more obvious and as you grow older. Usually, most people do not attach any significance to these symptoms. However, more concern is raised when other weird symptoms begin to appear.
The following are some of the most typical symptoms of hypothyroidism;
- Weight gain
- Dry skin
- Thinning hair
- Slowed heart rate
- Fertility issues
- Weird menstrual changes
- Memory decline
- Reduced sweating
- High cholesterol levels in the blood
- Muscle and joints stiffness
- Hoarse voice
In some people, these symptoms appear small and begin to develop and complicate as time goes on. The slower the production of the thyroid hormone, the more the symptoms begin to appear. In general, symptoms become more defined as people age.
If by chance you suspect that the symptoms you are feeling may be as a result of the slow production of your thyroid hormone, then it is best to speak to your doctor about it, as blood tests will be carried out to check if truly your symptoms are of hypothyroidism.
Causes of Hypothyroidism
The possible causes of hypothyroidism include;
Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is an autoimmune disease; by autoimmune, the immune system, which is supposed to fight off invading cells, begins to confuse healthy cells for unhealthy ones and begins to combat or destroy both the unhealthy cells and the healthy cells. Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is one of the health conditions that occur when the immune system is in such a confused state. It causes severe thyroid inflammation by attacking the thyroid gland. This inflammation then goes on to slow down the production of the thyroid hormone. This health condition affects most middle-aged women but can also be seen in young men of that same age bracket, as well as children. Hashimoto’s thyroiditis attaches itself to the family history of anyone who suffers from it. Thus, it is possible that you can suffer from hypothyroidism and Hashimoto’s thyroiditis if your direct family member suffered from it.
Treatment for Hyperthyroidism
When the thyroid gland generates more thyroid hormones than the body requires, you can be said to be suffering from hyperthyroidism. Treatments for hyperthyroidism helps to return the thyroid gland’s functions back to normal. On rare occasions, some of these hyperthyroid treatments can drop the levels of your thyroid hormone production and cause it to remain low for the rest of your life, thus, making you live on drugs and supplements for that long. Except a miracle happens, of which miracles rarely happen in science. This treatment effect is usually common after hyperthyroidism treatment with radioactive iodine.
When your thyroid gland is completely removed as a result of thyroid-related problems, you will begin to develop symptoms of hypothyroidism, and with time, you will eventually experience full-blown hypothyroidism. However, the most basic or primary treatment of any thyroid-related issue is living on thyroid medications for the rest of your life.
However, if the surgical removal involves the removal of only a part of the thyroid gland, the thyroid gland may nevertheless be able to produce just enough thyroid hormone for your body. In addition, more checks and tests will be conducted to know how much drug or medication support your thyroid gland would need to produce enough of its hormones to your body if a part of it is removed.
Undergoing radiation therapy as cancer treatment, especially head or neck cancer, can expose you to the risks of developing hypothyroidism. The thyroid hormone is usually slowed down as a result of cancer radiation therapy, and this always leads to hypothyroidism.
Some medications have been discovered to reduce the function of the thyroid gland, thus leading to hypothyroidism. These medications that have the potentials of causing this harm to the thyroid gland include drugs that are used to treat heart diseases, cancer, and some psychological illnesses.
Risk Factors of Hypothyroidism
Some of the factor that can lead you developing hypothyroidism include;
- Age; irrespective of gender, 60 years and above
- Gender; mostly common among females
- Underlying autoimmune diseases like type 1 diabetes
- Hypothyroidism family history
Complications of Hyperthyroidism
When hypothyroidism is left untreated over a very long time, it gets complicated and could lead to one or more of the following;
- Carpal tunnel syndrome
- Nerve injury
- Myxedema coma
- Peripheral neuropathy
- In severe cases, low kidney function
- Sleep apnea (obstructive)
Special Dietary Suggestion for People with Hypothyroidism
Although there are no special meal plans or diet people with hypothyroidism should adopt. However, here are some dietary suggestions that might just be helpful.
For the thyroid to function accurately, it needs enough supply of iodine. Iodine is an essential mineral needed by the body to function properly. In order to get enough iodine, add iodine-rich food to your diet. You necessarily do not need to use iodine supplements to get enough iodine content into your body. Some of the foods that contain iodine include;
Reduce Your Soy Intake
Soy inhibits the absorption of the thyroid hormone. Eating foods that contain high levels of soy properties may reduce the effectiveness of your thyroid medications. Foods that contain soy include;
- Vegan cheese
- Soy milk
- Soy sauce
For you to get maximum hypothyroidism treatment, you need to be consistent with the drugs, and the desired dosage must not reduce by any percentage. Taking soy products alongside thyroid medications could reduce the effectiveness of the thyroid medication by reducing the level at which the thyroid hormone gets produced.
Reduce Your Fiber Intake
Just like soy, fiber also inhibits the absorption of thyroid medications. Fiber is essential to build a healthy body; thus, it is advisable not to avoid it completely but reduce your intake of fiber to a significantly low level in order to strike a balance.
Do Not Combine Thyroid Medications with Other Medications
This could lead to the interaction of both medications, which its result can be harmful. If, by chance, you are suffering from other health conditions asides from hypothyroidism, and you find yourself taking more than one medication for different illnesses, try to take both medications at different times, with a number of hours gap in-between. Since thyroid medications get interacted easily with other medications and sometimes food, it is best to take the thyroid medication on an empty stomach and without combining it with other medications.
In conclusion, living with hypothyroidism is not a death sentence, and it does not confine you to one strict and permanent diet. It just involves slight changes to dietary and lifestyle choices. Some of the risk factors associated with hypothyroidism include; the effects of certain medications, age, gender, underlying autoimmune health issues, and sometimes poor dietary choices. Treatment requires the intervention of professional medical practitioners and cannot be treated at home.