Understanding Hypothyroidism

Understanding Hypothyroidism


Simply put, Hypothyroidism is having an under active Thyroid gland. This small butterfly shaped gland is located in the front side of the neck. An underperforming thyroid gland results in the sub optimal production of thyroid hormone, thereby reducing the body’s ability to function normally. To elaborate, the following functions of the body get affected.

  • Growth
  • Heat regulation in the body
  • Fertility
  • Absorption of nutrients – proteins, carbohydrates and vitamins
  • Usage of inhaled oxygen

In addition to the above, it also alters the production and effect of other hormones.

Symptoms and Causes of Hypothyroidism

Due to the reduced levels of thyroid induced hormones in the body, the general body processes start slowing down. This is revealed in the symptoms such as,

  • Getting tired easily
  • Skin becoming dry
  • Feeling cold at room temperature
  • Memory starts failing
  • Regular constipation

There are many causes which lead to this abnormality. These can be temporary or permanent. Doctors estimate that 95% cases start with the thyroid gland itself (called Primary hypothyroidism). In case the problem starts from the pineal gland, which is the controller of thyroid, it is termed as secondary hypothyroidism. The main causes are,

  • Deficiency or excess of iodine – the thyroid gland relies heavily on iodine for manufacturing its hormones. Primary source of iodine is through food and consuming excess or less amount of iodine has its role to play in developing this abnormality
  • Autoimmune disease – the defense mechanism of the body often mistakes thyroid cells for invaders and generates cells to fight and destroy them. Gradually, there are no more cells left to produce the hormones in thyroid gland. Women are more susceptible to this phenomenon than men
  • Damaged pituitary gland – also called as the master gland, the pituitary gives orders to all other glands and regulates their functioning. When this gland suffers an injury, slows its working or develops abnormality due to radiation or other causes, this immediately disturbs the thyroid gland

Diagnosis of Hypothyroidism

Doctors advise that when this condition runs in the family from generation to generation, one should start taking care from the very beginning. Else, a physical examination of the skin, health and energy levels, heart rate and traces of swelling reveal the presence or absence. However, the best way is to go for a simple blood test.

Curing Hypothyroidism

There are a wide variety of considerations to be made prior to treating hypothyroidism. Factors such as age, gender, rate of recovery, dietary habits are some of the important points. Let’s face it, this cannot be completely cured. However, this has been successfully controlled in multiple cases. Pills are prescribed to patients to increase the levels of hormone in the body. However, low levels of intake do not help and excess lead to hyperthyroid. Hence, doctors rightly say that the cure is quite complex and should be under regular supervision of a qualified doctor.

What Would Work For You?

While it is important to understand the basics behind certain health condition, it is not necessary to panic. Medicine and research has improved to such an extent that the ability to control most of the diseases are in hand. Our suggestion,

Firstly, in case you feel you have some of the symptoms mentioned above, immediately consult a doctor and undergo a blood test

Secondly, if the results are positive, consult a doctor to understand the best way to plan the cure.

Remember 20% of the world’s population shows symptoms of this condition and there have been enough advancement in this field to address the issue.

Reviewed By:

Dr. Kaushal M. Bhavsar (MBBS, MD)

Assistant Professor in Pulmonary Medicine, GMERS Medical College, Ahmedabad