Hypothyroidism Signs Symptoms Causes Treatment Medication
Posted By Rupa Jaiswal
Posted on July 12, 2021
Are you feeling sudden tiredness these days without any apparent reason,
experiencing dryness of skin and frequent constipation? All these could be
early indications of underactive thyroid gland.
Underactive thyroid, also called hypothyroidism is a common disorder which
is prevalent in India. In hypothyroidism women or older people tend to suffer
more than men. Understanding this serious condition in detail would help in its
What is Hypothyroidism?
Hypothyroidism is an under active thyroid. It is a disorder in which the thyroid gland
does not produce enough thyroid hormones.
In this condition, human body lacks the optimum level of the thyroid hormones
triiodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine (T4). These hormones regulate the vital body
functions like Metabolic, heart rate, body weight, body temperature, LDL-bad cholesterol
levels, etc. A normal human body should have these hormones in an equilibrium state.
Appropriate balance of T3 and T4 hormones is regulated by both the pituitary gland
and hypothalamus, in coordination.
The major role of the thyroid gland is
to produce the two hormones T3 and
T4, which requires many resources,
reactions and events. When any of the
requirements are not met with, the
gland fails to produce adequate
quantity of hormones. When the
production of thyroid hormones fall
below the body's normal need,
certain signs and symptoms are
exhibited, and this Cancer condition
is called hypothyroidism. hypothyroidism is a more frequent dysfunction disorder of thyroid.
Hypothyroidism is of two types viz. primary and secondary hypothyroidism. Primary
hypothyroidism is caused due to disorders of the thyroid gland. Secondary hypothyroidism
is caused by disorders of the hypothalamus and pituitary gland, thereby leading to
decreased secretion of thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH). Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH)is the hormone responsible
for stimulating production of thyroid hormones by the thyroid gland. Major causes
of secondary hypothyroidism are the pituitary adenomas, radiotherapy and surgery.
What causes hypothyroidism
Hypothyroidism is generally more common in people who are already suffering from
autoimmune disorders. One of the possible causes is presence of high fat cell deposition
in the body, which produces leptin that leads to increased production of TSH. Elevated
TSH levels in the blood indicate less amount of the thyroid hormones because of poor
working of the thyroid gland.
Some of the common causes of hypothyroidism are explained below:
1. Hashimoto's thyroiditis
This is an autoimmune disorder of the thyroid gland. It is the most common cause of
underactive thyroid. In this condition, the thyroid cells are identified as foreign by the
body and thus are under constant attack by the immune system. Autoimmune thyroiditis
can begin suddenly or it can develop slowly over years with higher incidence occurring
in women of childbearing age.
2. Thyroidectomy or radiation therapy
Radiation is used for the treatment of overactive thyroid or thyroid cancer. Thyroidectomy
is a surgical procedure used to remove some part or all of the gland. Goiter, which is a
condition of enlargement of the thyroid gland can be treated by thyroidectomy. Thyroidectomy
slows down or inhibits the production of thyroid hormones. The after-effects of radiation
therapy on thyroid hormones might develop gradually without apparent signs and symptoms
until several years.
3. Severe lodine Deficiency
lodine deficiency is the most common cause of primary hypothyroidism. The trace element
iodine is required by the body for making thyroid hormones. The iodide taken up by the thyroid
gland eventually oxidizes to iodine with the help of enzymes thyroid peroxidase. The iodine
further goes through a series of reactions within the thyroid gland for the production of thyroxine
(T4) and triiodothyronine (T3).
4. Central hypothyroidism
Central hypothyroidism is caused due to insufficient thyroid gland stimulation by thyroid
stimulating hormone (TSH), occurring from pituitary gland or hypothalamus dysfunction.
Both these glands produce hormones that influence thyroid hormone production and also
play a part in the central nervous system.
The most common cause of hypothyroidism is known to be chronic
autoimmune thyroiditis (Hashimoto's
thyroiditis), which is characterised by
inflammation and damage to the
thyroid tissue. This causes thyroid to
either partly or completely fail to
synthesise the required quantities of
thyroid hormones. The secondary
causes of hypothyroidism include:
Thyroid Test at home
Surgical removal of the thyroid
gland either for hyperthyroidism or
A deficiency in dietary iodine
Congenital thyroid absence, failure
or defect .
Signs and symptoms of Hypothyroidism
The nature and severity of the symptoms of thyroid disorders vary from person to
person. They are also dependent on the amount of decrease in thyroid hormones
and the duration of time it has been present. For most patients, the symptoms are
mild and can often be confused with other problems such as the natural aging
process, menopause and stress. This is why, many patients remain undiagnosed
and untreated for years. The symptoms may include a few or many of the
Fatigue, muscle swelling or cramps
Tingling in the fingers
Loss of equilibrium
Dry skin and cold intolerance
Goiter (enlarged thyroid
causing a lump in the neck)
Infertility or miscarriages
Myxedema fluid infiltration of
tissues causing puffiness (mainly on face) .
When does hypothyroidism get confirmed?
When the patient has majority of the symptoms and
also presents with an increased levels of TSH with
decreased levels of FT3 and Free Thyroxine Ft4. This is true in 98%
of the cases of hypothyroidism, though in some
cases, the same may not be met with fully.
Treatment for hypothyroidism
Since hypothyroid patients are deficient in thyroid
hormones, they are treated with chemically
synthesised hormones. Synthetic supplements of the
hormone, T4 also called as thyroxine, is given to
hypothyroid patients, which is available on
prescription in medical stores. Thyroxine hormone
tablet is known to be safe and people take it for
decades without any documented side effects .
Its effectiveness may be decreased due to the
patient's age or by interactions with other drugs.
Therefore, it is essential that the physician be
informed about any other medications the patient
may be taking. The dosage required depends on the
magnitude of the deficiency, weight and age of the
patient (% age loss of thyroid activity).
The physician aims to bring the elevated TSH levels
within the normal range by varying the dosage, using
blood tests results as a guide. Once blood tests
confirm that the patient is on the correct dose of
medication, follow-ups of hormone levels can be
done once in six months initially and then annually.
How long should thyroxine supplementation be continued?
Thyroxine supplement is
basically thyroid hormone
synthesised and packed in
convenient doses of 25, 50 and
100 mg. In majority of the cases,
thyroid hormone supplementation is for life. In some cases,
mild hypothyroid symptoms
may resolve and the patient
might be withdrawn from the
dose. A hypothyroid individual
may need any where from 25 mg
to 200 mg depending on severity
of the condition
Thyroid function tests are then
carried out and if thyronormalcy
is indicated, the medication may
be frozen, reduced or withdrawn completely.
Leading a normal life
Once the patient is put on
appropriate medication after
hypothyroidism is diagnosed, the patient no more has
thyroid hormone deficiency
and hence all the associated
problems should reduce
substantially. The patient
should be regular in taking
the recommended medicines
in the correct dosage and
frequency. Intake in excess of
the recommended dosage
can also cause discomfort.
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Did You Know the fact?
Many thyroid patients are prescribed tonics and
high calorie diets when the clinician is not able
to diagnose the thyroid problem.
What is Secondary hypothyroidism?
Secondary hypothyroidism is
not a thyroid disorder, but a
pituitary gland disorder. TSH is
responsible in stimulating cells
of the thyroid gland to produce
its hormones. When the
pituitary fails to synthesise the
desired quantity of TSH there is
a simultaneous deficiency of
thyroid hormones in the body.
Such patients will have all the
signs and symptoms of hypothyroidism, but will not have
an elevated TSH level and
hence, may not be diagnosed
in time. In management,
through thyroxine, the blood
tests should be carefully interpreted.