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Hypothyroidism: Under Functioning Thyroid Gland – Expert Advice by Dr. Vandana Lal

Hypothyroidism Causes and Symptoms Dr. Vandana Lal - Teachers' Grace

According to the available data, 42 million women in India suffer from Hypothyroidism. In the USA 12% of women at some stage of their life get affected by the problem of Hypothyroidism.

In India figures could be much higher, probably it goes unnoticed, or in rural areas, it goes doesn’t get detected on account of lack of availability of pathology tests as well as on account of lack of awareness.

5 common thyroid diseases prevalent in India – (1) Hyperthyroidism (2) Hypothyroidism (3) Goiter and iodine deficiency disorders (4) Thyroid cancer and (5) Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis.

Studies have suggested that 1 in 2500 neonates are affected with Hypothyroidism. In a study done in Mumbai on 800 children with Thyroid conditions, 79% were suffering from Hypothyroidism.

Subclinical Thyroid is largely prevalent in India, it affects close to 12% of women and approximately 6% of men.

In this article, we will focus on Hypothyroidism, the most common ailment prevalent in India.
The Thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland located in front of the windpipe in the neck region of the body. The primary function of Thyroid Gland is to convert iodine into Thyroid Hormones. These Hormones further travel through the blood and regulate all important functions in the body.

It secretes very important hormones which regulate several metabolic functions in the body like heart, muscle & digestive function, brain development & bone maintenance. Normal functioning of the gland requires iodine from the diet.

Hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid) is a condition of a gland malfunction in which your thyroid gland does not secrete enough of certain important hormones. These hormones are commonly referred to as:

•      T3

•      T4

•      TSH

Early symptoms of Hypothyroidism generally go unnoticed, in fact, in most women, it has been accidentally found through pathology tests.  However, over a period of time, untreated hypothyroidism can be the reason for a number of health problems.

Inadequate levels of Thyroid Hormones may lead to decreased metabolism, slower heart rate, and additional symptoms.

Modern pathology has made available accurate thyroid function tests to diagnose hypothyroidism.

Modern medicine has synthetically created thyroid hormone, the treatment of hypothyroidism which is generally safe and effective, regular intake usually requires different dosage levels at different times, your doctor with the aid of pathology test will advise the adequate dose for you.

Also Read: Vitamin-D Deficiency: Causes And Remedies- Expert Advice By Dr. Meenakshi Ahuja

What Causes Underfunctioning thyroid gland:

•      Deficiency of iodine in your diet

•      Thyroid cancer

•      Past radiation or surgery carried out on the thyroid or other parts of the neck

•      Medicines like Lithium and Amiodarone

•      Autoimmune diseases

•      Congenital

Hypothyroidism Symptoms in adults may include:

•      General fatigue

•      Increased sensitivity to cold

•      Constipation

•      Pale dry skin

•      Weight gain, with normal dietary intake

•      Puffy face

•      Hoarseness

•      Muscle weakness

•      Elevated blood cholesterol level-higher LDL levels

•      Muscle aches, tenderness and stiffness

•      Inflammation, pain, or stiffness of the joints

•      Heavier than normal or irregular menstrual periods/infertility

•      Thinning hair

•      Slowed heart rate

•      Depression

•      Impaired memory

•      Enlarged thyroid gland (goiter)

Hypothyroidism in infants

Generally, hypothyroidism most often affects middle-aged and older women, however, anyone can develop the condition, including infants. Initially, babies born without a thyroid gland or with a gland that does not work properly may have few signs and symptoms of hypothyroidism but later they develop problems which include:

•      Pale skin and whitening of the eyes

•      Large protruding tongue

•      Difficulty in breathing

•      Hoarse crying

•      Umbilical hernia

Hypothyroidism in children and teens

Children and teenagers with hypothyroidism have the same signs and symptoms as adults, but they may also exhibit the following:

•      Poor growth resulting in short stature

•      Delayed development of permanent teeth

•      Delayed puberty

•      Poor mental development

Risk factors: Hypothyroidism can occur to anyone at any stage of life, however, you are at an enhanced risk if you: 

•      Are a woman

•      Are older than 60

•      Family history of the thyroid disease/genetic inheritance

•      Suffering from autoimmune diseases, such as type 1 diabetes or celiac disease

•      Have consumed radioactive iodine or anti-thyroid medications

•      Exposed to radiation on your neck or upper chest

•      Have had thyroid surgery (partial thyroidectomy)

•      Pregnant or women who have delivered a baby in the past six months are at a higher risk

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