By Niranjana S. Rajalakshmi, MVSc (Vet. Microbiology)
Science Writer (Freelance)
Check out the previous post for the functions of the thyroid gland and hyperthyroidism.
In hypothyroidism, the thyroid gland does not produce enough thyroid hormones to meet the body’s needs. It could be due to previous or ongoing inflammation of the thyroid gland when most of the thyroid cells are damaged or dead and are not able to produce sufficient hormones.
The main causes of hypothyroidism include
Similar to hyperthyroidism, the common cause of hypothyroidism is also an autoimmune disorder. It is called Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. Unlike Graves’ disease where the antibodies against healthy cells of the thyroid turn on the thyroid gland to overproduce thyroid hormones, in Hashimoto’s disease, the antibodies attack the thyroid gland and cause damage. Hence, enough hormones are not released for normal body functions. A combination of various factors including heredity, sex, and age may determine the likelihood of developing Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. However, middle-aged women are commonly susceptible.
Surgical removal of a part of or the complete thyroid gland may be warranted in some of the thyroid conditions (mainly thyroid cancer). In such cases, the remaining cells will not be able to meet the body’s demands always, thus paving the way to hypothyroidism.
Radioactive iodine therapy
For some conditions pertaining to the overactive thyroid gland, radioactive iodine therapy is performed to kill the cells of the gland for preventing the excessive production of hormones. Occasionally, the treatment could also damage the gland resulting in an underactive thyroid.
Most people will have a combination of the following symptoms
• Weight gain
• Muscle cramps
• Cold intolerance
• Dry, coarse hair
• Abnormal menstrual cycles
• Increased BP/Cholesterol
Treatment and prevention
o Medications that boost the level of thyroid hormones is the easiest and the most common way of treating hypothyroidism.
o There is no known way to prevent this condition.
Note: Please consult a medical professional regarding specifics of your health and symptoms.
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