According to statistics, hypothyroidism is one of the most frequently occurring endocrine disorders. Hypothyroidism is particularly common in the regions located a great distance from the sea.
Hypothyroidism is a disease caused by insufficient supply of the thyroid hormone to human organs and tissue. This usually occurs when the thyroid gland does not make the vital hormones.
Studies have shown that one in ten females over 65 has the signs of the early phases of this disease.
Why does it happen?
Some of the reasons of hypothyroidism can include:
- thyroid disease (trauma, inflammatory process, hereditary abnormalities),
- surgeries on the thyroid gland;
- inadequate intake of iodine in the diet;
- pituitary disorders (e.g. hypopituitarism).
What takes place exactly?
The decrease in the number of thyroid hormones brings about irregularities in metabolism, and decline in the work of the cardiovascular system, gastrointestinal tract, as well as mental and reproductive activity. Symptoms of hypothyroidism cultivate gradually and unnoticeably, so patients do not visit a specialist for a long time.
The diagnosis of hypothyroidism is made by an endocrinologist on the grounds of patients’ conditions and the alterations in their physical appearance, as well as the following research information:
- blood test for thyroid hormones (thyroxine and triiodothyronine) and thyroid-stimulating hormone;
- insufficient amount of thyroid hormones in the blood system, the levels of thyroid stimulating hormone may be elevated or lowered;
- biochemical blood analysis: hypothyroidism causes an increase in cholesterol amounts, etc.;
- ultrasound may be administered to find out the size and makeup of the thyroid gland;
- some cases may require scintigraphy of the thyroid gland or fine-needle biopsy.
The core of hypothyroidism treatment is the administering of thyroid hormones. Medications are generally well tolerated and simple to use. As a rule, medications should be used every day.
In some cases, surgical treatment of the thyroid may be needed. It most cases it requires a partial or sometimes complete removal of the thyroid tissue. Surgical treatment is a viable alternative when the use of medication is too risky (for instance in pregnancies).
An endocrinologist selects the necessary dose based to the severity and the length of the disease, patient’s age and physical condition. In most instances, the treatment is life long.
Treatment should be monitored with recurring visits to an endocrinologist (once a year) to check the amounts of thyroid hormones and thyroid-stimulating hormones.
If the cause of the disease is shortage of iodine in the diet, patients are prescribed iodine supplements, and are advised to consume more seafood.
Adhering to doctor’s advice and the proper use of drugs can get rid of the symptoms of hypothyroidism. If hypothyroidism is left untreated, patient’s condition worsens.
Untreated hypothyroidism in children leads to stunted growth, as well as stunted physical and mental development.
Prevention of hypothyroidism includes a diverse diet that supplies ample amounts of iodine, and suitable treatment of thyroid disorders.
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