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Hypothyroidism – Causes and Symptoms of Hypothyroidism

Hypothyroidism is a condition in which enough thyroid hormone is not produced by the thyroid gland. The body’s metabolic activities are performed by thyroid hormone. But if there is deficiency of this hormone, it leads to slow metabolism. It is a more common disorder than hyperthyroidism i.e over-active thyroid. This condition occurs due to intake of certain drugs that decrease the thyroid functioning. Medical treatments for hyperthyroidism can also follow the condition hypothyroidism.

The condition is more common in women and the risk increases with age. It is estimated that 10 million Americans are affected with this disorder.

Causes of Hypothyroidism
Hypothyroidism has many causes. The condition mainly results from a chronic disease condition called, thyroiditis in which the thyroid gland gets inflamed. In this condition, the immune system doesn’t recognise the thyroid gland and attacks it assuming it to be a foreign body. Hence, thyroid gland is destroyed and thyroid hormone is not produced. The other factors that cause hypothyroidism include:

  • Surgical removal of thyroid gland due to other thyroid disorders cause hypothyroidism.
  • Radiation treatments for neck and head can destroy the thyroid gland.
  • Medications that include iodides, lithium and nitroprusside elements can cause the condition.
  • Bacterial and viral infections that have an effect on thyroid gland can reduce the production of thyroid hormone.
  • It can be a congenital defect in which the infants are born with improper thyroid gland functioning.
  • Pituitary gland generally produces thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) that stimulates the thyroid functioning. In some cases, malfunction of this pituitary gland may cause hypothyroidism.
  • Certain environmental toxins on reaching high levels may cause hypothyroidism.
  • Iodine-deficient diet like foods that include spinach, peaches, peanuts and cabbage have a serious effect on thyroid hormone production.

Symptoms of Hypothyroidism
Symptoms of hypothyroidism vary according to the severity and length of the disease condition. The signs and symptoms generally observed in hypothyroidism are:

  • Weakness
  • Fatigue
  • Dry and coarse hair
  • Sudden weight gain and difficulty in losing weight
  • Hair loss
  • Rough and dry skin
  • Muscle cramps
  • Intolerance to cold conditions
  • Depression
  • Constipation
  • Loss of memory
  • Irritability
  • Abnormal menstrual cycles

Seek medical professional help if you experience these symptoms of hypothyroidism. Also, you need the help of an endocrinologist who can diagnose the cause for the disease and gives the necessary treatment.

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