What is Hypothyroidism
Hypothyroidism is a condition that is triggered by a hormone imbalance in the body. Your thyroid gland is responsible for regulating the cellular processes that are involved in:
- Temperature regulation
- Metabolic responses
- Immune system defense
In hypothyroidism, the hormone levels that are responsible for these functions are too low. This causes the bodily processes to become sluggish. If left untreated, they can slow down to a critical pace.
Like the gland itself; the symptomatic process starts out slow. You might experience:
- Sensitivity to cold
- Increased fatigue
- Slower heart rate
- Difficulty concentrating
- Decreased appetite
The difficulty with identifying these symptoms as hypothyroidism is that they mimic many of the things we experience while under “normal” stress.
The best way to tell the difference is to practice some stress management skills. If after reducing stress you still have symptoms, it’s time to talk to a specialist. Failure to do so will allow the symptoms to progress to a point with uncomfortable and dangerous consequences.
Consequences & Treatment
The lower your hormone levels get, the more hypothyroidism wreaks havoc on your hormonal and biological responses.
This is where menstrual cycle changes, sweating, brain fog and complexion changes come into play. Doctors are more likely to notice hypothyroidism at this stage. As the symptoms become more pronounced, they are difficult to mistake for anything else.
At this point your TSH and T4 hormone levels will be checked. TSH is controlled by your pituitary gland, which also controls your thyroid function. T4 is produced directly by the gland. Depending on the results, you might be referred to an endocrinologist. Hormone replacement therapy and iodine supplementation are two of the standard approaches to treatment.
Customized treatment options are available through specialists. The goal of either approach is to stabilize your hormone levels and maintain your thyroid health. There is a misconception that thyroid problems aren’t that serious. In fact, they can be very serious.
A patient who does not seek treatment can go into a coma if their hormone levels dip too low or spike too high. This is not a condition to be taken lightly. Take a self-assessment and review your symptoms with your doctor. If you have a family history of thyroid problems, get your levels checked frequently. The condition can develop over time.
Make sure you are aware of the signs and symptoms ahead of time. Awareness saves lives and helps those lives be longer and healthier. Get the word out about hypothyroidism today.