Subclinical hypothyroidism which is also known as underactive thyroid is a common condition, although the treatment for it has been largely debated. It has been observed that the incidence of sub clinical hypothyroidism grows with age and is common in women.
The associated conditions comprise enhanced risk of atherosclerosis and high cholesterol levels. In atherosclerosis, fat collects on the arterial walls.
Hypothyroidism happens when the body produces an unusually reduced amount of thyroid. The hormone controls growth and development, along with certain cellular procedures.
Sub clinical hypothyroidism is the condition in which the symptoms are not prominent. Although the amount of hormone produced is normal, the blood tests show higher numbers of TSH.
TSH is a kind of thyroid stimulating hormone which is also called thyrotropin. It is secreted by the thyrotrope cell in the pituitary gland. The high numbers indicate that the pituitary works too hard to achieve the normal levels. When the TSH levels of a patient exceed a particular level, they are prone to acquire hypothyroidism with visible symptoms.
Importance of Treating Subclinical Hypothyroidism
Any kind of sub clinical hypothyroidism can be left untreated since the symptoms are not visible. Once the thyroid hormones are replaced, the cholesterol levels improve. In case there is no problem with cholesterol and the patient does not suffer from adverse effects, they will be kept under observation.
Blood tests will have to be repeated within 4 to 6 months to ensure that the conditions do not worsen. If the symptoms increase, action should be taken. If there are no ill effects felt, it can be autoimmune hypothyroid disorder. Untreated subclinical hypothyroidism may lead to primary myxedema that may destroy the thyroid and Hashimoto’s thyroiditis (usually associated with goiter).
Since the condition of sub clinical hypothyroidism is common, it is generally found in women, and in a small number of men. The incidence appears to grow with age. Patients who have Hashimoto’s disease or take lithium are at a greater risk, along with people having postpartum, silent, and infectious thyroiditis.
Symptoms of Subclinical Hypothyroidism
Sub clinical hypothyroidism is caused by the inadequate production of the thyroid hormone by the thyroid gland. The prevalent symptoms are obesity, sleepiness, exhaustion, and depression, intolerance to cold, swelling in the legs, constipation, coarse or dry hair, dry skin, flailing concentration, high cholesterol, muscle cramps and aches.
However, people with sub clinical hypothyroidism may not experience any symptoms at all. The condition affects about 13 million people in theUS, 90% of which are women.
- Skin Conditions: The skin symptoms of hypothyroidism like a yellowish orange color on the palms, scaly skin and yellow bumps in the eyes can be observed before clinical detection.
- Emotional Symptoms: Hypothyroidism may lead to depression, problems in concentration, anxiety and irritability.
- Sluggishness: Hypothyroidism can lead to slow thinking, movement, learning, heart rate and circulation.
- Low Energy Levels: The common signs of sub clinical hypothyroidism include fatigue, poor digestion, waking up tired and lack of energy.
- Body Temperature: Hypothyroidism is manifested by chill, low body temperature, low temperature in the armpits and cold hands.
Patients taking inadequate amounts of the replacement hormone, too many anti thyroid medications and those with reduced thyroid functions are prone to risk. Subclinical hypothyroidism can be diagnosed with thyroxine or T4 and thyroid-stimulating hormone or TSH tests.
Cure for Subclinical Hypothyroidism
The good news is that treatment for hypothyroidism is comparatively easy. Since it is an underperforming thyroid, the hormones which are not being produced by the thyroid can be replaced by a thyroid supplement which is orally ingested. This is a daily treatment and should be carried on for life.
However, controlling the imbalances of T3 and T4 with only a pill is not that inconvenient. The most common option by far is the hormone replacement supplement, levothyroxine. This treatment is comparatively non-allergenic and harmless.
The problem with the supplement, however, is that it can interfere with your other medicines and food supplements. This is why you should strictly follow your doctor’s advice. There are different protocols for subclinical hypothyroidism and something that works efficiently for one patient may not function for another. The ray of hope in this condition is that it is not life threatening, although it can make you feel totally drained. Endocrinologists recommend going for a blood test once in 3 or 4 years, particularly for those over 35 years.