Hypothyroidism – deficiency of thyroid hormone

The thyroid gland sits on the front of the throat and produces hormones that affect almost all of the body’s functions. If the thyroid gland produces too little hormones, you may get hypothyroidism. Then you get low metabolism and the body goes at low rpm. You may also get hypothyroidism after the thyroid gland is removed.

The most important function of the thyroid gland is to control the metabolism of the body. It occurs by the thyroid forming hormone called thyroxine or T4, and triiodothyronine or T3. The thyroid function is in turn controlled by the hormone TSH , the thyroid-stimulating hormone, which is formed in the pituitary gland of the brain.

There are several types of hypothyroidism and the most common is that the lack of thyroid hormone is due to chronic thyroid inflammation. Then the immune system affects the organs and it causes a permanent inflammation of the thyroid gland which causes the function to slowly deteriorate. Lifelong treatment with hypothyroidism is usually required.

Symptoms of hypothyroidism

These are examples of early symptoms of hypothyroidism:

  • Fatigue or less energy.
  • Depression.
  • Concentration difficulties.
  • Feeling cold.

Later you may have these symptoms of hypothyroidism:

  • Dry skin and dry hair.
  • Constipation.
  • Weight gain.
  • Memory difficulties.
  • Slow heartbeat.
  • Pain in joints and muscles.
  • More difficult to have children.

If you have had hypothyroidism for a long time without getting treatment, you may get swelling of the face and your voice may get darker.

Hypothyroidism can sometimes cause you to have an enlarged thyroid gland, called a stroke . You can then feel a pressure on the neck and sometimes you can feel the thyroid gland bigger.

When should I seek care?

If you find that the thyroid gland is enlarged or swollen, you should contact a health care center.

You can seek care at any healthcare center you want throughout the country. You also have the opportunity to have a regular doctor’s contact at the health center. 

How can I prevent the disease?

You should choose salt containing iodine. Otherwise, you cannot prevent the disease.

Investigations

Initially, there are usually no visible signs of hypothyroidism. Therefore, when you first meet your doctor, it is important that you tell about your symptoms and previous illnesses. If you have close relatives who have disorders of thyroid function, you should also tell your doctor.

If you are wondering about your thyroid gland, you should discuss it with your doctor during a visit to the health center or at a health check-up. You may have a blood test to find out if you have a malfunction or not.

Blood tests determine the diagnosis

The doctor determines the diagnosis of hypothyroidism by means of  blood tests where the content of thyroid hormone thyroxine and the level of the hormone TSH are examined.  Low levels of thyroid hormone along with high levels of TSH are typical of hypothyroidism. To find out if, for example, an autoimmune disease is the cause, the doctor often also tests the level of antibodies against thyroid oxidase, so-called TPO antibodies.

Examination of the thyroid gland

The study also includes that the doctor feels the thyroid gland. In some cases, for example, if the thyroid gland is also enlarged, you may undergo a more in-depth examination. Some examples of research are these:

  • An  ultrasound examination  that can show the size of the thyroid gland and whether the irregularities in the thyroid gland are fluid or solid.
  • A  pulmonary x-ray examination or computed tomography  that can show whether the enlarged thyroid gland is pressing the trachea inside the sternum.
  • A fine needlepoint of an enlarged thyroid gland that means the doctor with a thin needle retrieves cells from the thyroid gland. The sample is then examined under a microscope.

It is important to get answers to questions about your treatment

If you have been told that you have hypothyroidism, it is advisable to get the following questions from your doctor:

  • How should I know if I am getting the right hormone dose?
  • How do my other medicines affect my treatment for hypothyroidism?
  • How often should I be in control?
  • How long will it take before I feel good?

You have the right to understand

In order for you to be able to participate in your care and make decisions, it is important that you understand the information you receive from the healthcare staff. Ask questions if you don’t understand. You can also ask for information printed so that you can read it peacefully. 

Treatment for hypothyroidism

If too little thyroid hormone is formed, you may need to take artificial hormone in tablet form in order for the metabolism to become as it should be. If you get more severe hypothyroidism with very low hormone production it can affect the heart and nervous system. You must then be treated in a hospital.

Sometimes you may need to be on sick leave for up to one month. The symptoms may initially remain, but usually, they subside and are gone after a few weeks of treatment. Sometimes it may take a long time for the symptoms to disappear.

Most people with hypothyroidism feel good after receiving treatment. It is usually lifelong and it is important that you continue the medication. You also need to go to regular doctor’s exams to check your values ​​and tell you how you are doing. It is important that your treatment for hypothyroidism is well-timed, ie you do not take too little or too much medicine. Here you can read more about medicines for hypothyroidism.

Risks if you do not receive treatment

Failure to receive treatment poses serious risks as the thyroid hormone is a vital hormone. The doctor checks that the thyroxine dose is adequate. Signs of too high a dose may be insomnia, warmth or high heart rate.

It is uncommon for side effects and they are usually due to you taking too high a dose of hormone for an extended period of time.

What happens in the body?

The thyroid gland, also called thyroid, sits on the front of the neck just below the larynx. It produces vital hormones that affect almost all of the body’s functions. The thyroid’s most important function is to control the metabolism of the body. It occurs by the thyroid forming hormone called thyroxine, T4, and triiodothyronine, T3. The thyroid function is in turn controlled by the hormone TSH, the thyroid-stimulating hormone, which is formed in the pituitary gland of the brain.

Sufficient amount of hormones provides balance

In order for the body to be balanced, the hormone must be produced in sufficient quantity. Hypothyroidism produces too little thyroid hormone. If the thyroid instead produces too much hormone, it feels like the body is going high. The condition is called hyperthyroidism.

Chronic thyroid inflammation

Chronic thyroid inflammation is an autoimmune disease, which means that antibodies are formed in the blood against cells in the body. The immune system, which is supposed to keep viruses and bacteria away, is wrong and in this disease destroys the body’s own thyroid cells. You can get hypothyroidism if you have chronic thyroid inflammation as the disease over time causes the thyroid function to deteriorate to a formless hormone.

Sometimes the thyroid enlarges, but it can also decrease in size. This form of the disease is usually divided into Hashimoto’s thyroid inflammation as the thyroid enlarges, and atrophic autoimmune thyroid inflammation which causes the thyroid to decrease in size.

Other causes of hypothyroidism .

Hypothyroidism may also have any of these causes:

  • You have previously had surgery for the enlarged thyroid gland, so-called  stroma, or too high metabolism
  • The thyroid gland has previously been treated with radioactive iodine, drugs or with radiation to other parts of the neck.
  • You have a previous thyroid disease.
  • Temporary disruption of the production of metabolic hormones after you are pregnant. It usually goes by itself, but in some cases treatment is needed.
  • There is a form of congenital hypothyroidism, which is very uncommon but serious. Therefore, the thyroid function of all newborn children in many countries is examined with blood tests, so that treatment can be started immediately. This treatment is lifelong.
  • Some medicines may cause hypothyroidism. This is a common side effect of medicines containing amiodarone, which is a heart medication, or lithium used for various mental illnesses. A more rare side effect is that of drugs containing carbamazepine or interferon. Therefore, the level of thyroid hormone should be regularly checked when taking these drugs

A disease of the pituitary gland can cause hypothyroidism. This type is called secondary hypothyroidism, and is uncommon.

Pregnancy and hypothyroidism

If you have a malfunction of the thyroid gland, it is important that you receive treatment so as not to reduce the possibility of becoming pregnant. If you have hypothyroidism and are treated with thyroid hormone and your values ​​are as they should be, it is not harder to get pregnant. The crucial thing is that you have ovulation.

It is good if your doctor checks the metabolism samples before you become pregnant so that the thyroxine dose is set correctly. You should also contact your doctor as soon as you become pregnant as you will often need to take an increased daily dose of thyroxine. If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, you may want to go for tighter controls to allow your doctor to change the dosage of thyroid hormone when needed. 

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