A recent study found that as much as 8% of the population in the United Kingdom suffers from low thyroid (underactive or hypothyroid) and that up to a hundred thousand individuals are not receiving treatment they could greatly benefit from. Disorders where the thyroid gland produces insufficient hormones, (the opposite of high or hyperthyroid) often remain undiagnosed, which is why knowing about the symptoms, making a definitive diagnosis and starting treatment are vital to good health.
Causes of low thyroid
Though worldwide, the most common cause of hypothyroidism is iodine deficiency; in developed countries, the causes are different. They usually have to do with conditions such as Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, which causes the body’s immune system to attack the thyroid gland, suppressing its ability to produce sufficient amounts of thyroid hormones.
Stress is a significant risk factor for this disorder. Stress lowers immunity and also disrupts the HPA Axis (responsible for regulating many body processes), causing hormonal imbalances.
In women, low thyroid problems are sometimes seen to begin in the postpartum phase, about 2 to 6 months after childbirth.
Certain drugs, such as mood stabilizers, interferon alpha, interleukin-2, and thalidomide could also induce thyroid disorders.
Symptoms of low thyroid
The symptoms of this disorder can be difficult to pinpoint because they occur gradually and many women mistake them for signs of aging that occur in the normal course.
Fatigue and low energy levels are among the first symptoms of hyperthyroidism since the disorder tends to slow down all the body systems including metabolism, digestion and even the heart rate. Women also find that their memory is not what it was, that they have difficulty in concentrating and even experience mood swings, anxiety and depression without sufficient cause.
Women with low thyroid find that they are unable to lose weight even if they try, or that they put on weight without any significant change in diet or activity levels.
The skin can become dry, brittle and prone to hair loss, and the nails may also become thin and weak and slow growing. Inability to tolerate cold is also a hallmark of the disorder.
Women with hypothyroidism may notice changes in the menstrual cycle such as heavier or irregular periods may have difficulty getting pregnant or even suffer miscarriages.
Digestive changes, such as a sluggish constitution and constipation also occur and the body systems tend to slow down.
Diagnosis of low thyroid
Diagnosis of the disorder is made based on a clinical evaluation of the symptoms that a woman may have. The doctor will look at all the symptoms and perform a blood test to find out what the thyroid levels are, and if there are deficiencies.
It is also a good idea to get checked for thyroid if you are a woman over the age of 60 (being female and advanced age are both risk factors). This may be a good idea particularly for pregnant women, women with a family history of thyroid disease, or those who have conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis or diabetes to get tested to rule out the problem.
Treatment or management of low thyroid
Medications are prescribed to replace the lack of thyroid hormones in system. If the thyroid problem detected is only mild, medications may not be prescribed but a woman would be required to keep a close eye on her symptoms with regular checkups.
The medications that are prescribed for managing thyroid usually are hormone thyroxin (levothyroxine or L-T4) and triiodothyronine (liothyronine L-T3) or most often a drug called “Synthroid”.
These medications will help a woman with hypothyroidism feel better and will also help control the symptoms soon. Though the symptoms may abate, the medications are required to be taken for the rest of a woman’s life.
If problems persist or new symptoms crop up after starting the medication, the doctor may adjust the dose, but it is important to take the medications for low thyroid exactly as prescribed because over dosage or under dosage can cause significant problems. Since some food interrupt absorption of the thyroid medications, they are important to take as directed (for instance Levothyroxine is supposed to be had on an empty stomach). Also any other medications and supplements (particularly calcium supplements because they can interfere with absorption) should be revealed to the doctor so appropriate modifications can be made.
Read more at http://www.womenhealthzone.com/general-health/thyroid-problems/low-thyroid/