The thyroid gland is a butterfly-shaped gland present in the lower part of the front of the neck. It produces the crucial hormones (triiodothyronine or T3 and thyroxine or T4) that are responsible for vital bodily functions affecting nearly all organs through their impact on all aspects of metabolism. Additionally, T3 and T4 contribute to the control of body temperature and heart rate.
What is hypothyroidism?
If the thyroid gland doesn’t produce enough hormones a condition develops called hypothyroidism or underactive thyroid. Hypothyroidism may remain undiagnosed for years as its symptoms may pass unnoticed during the early stages. However, an untreated underactive thyroid gland may cause serious complications over time that lead to obesity, heart problems, joint pain, and infertility. Diagnosis and treatment of hypothyroidism are relatively simple once suspected.
Causes of hypothyroidism:
A number of causes lead to the development of hypothyroidism including:
- Autoimmune diseases known as Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, where the immune system mistakenly attacks the body by producing antibodies that impair the thyroid gland’s ability to adequately produce hormones.
- Certain medications such as lithium used to treat some psychiatric diseases; amiodarone used to treat irregular heartbeats; and interferons used to treat some types of cancer and viral infections.
- Iodine deficiency whichis very rare nowadays due to the addition of iodine to table salt.
- Congenital diseases leading to underdevelopment or absence of the thyroid gland at birth. This is identified by state-mandated thyroid screening tests performed within 5 days of birth.
Who’s at risk of developing hypothyroidism?
Hypothyroidism is more common in:
- Individuals older than 60 years old.
- Being pregnant or giving birth in the past 6 months.
- Having a family history of thyroid disease.
- Having autoimmune diseases such as type 1 diabetes mellitus and celiac disease.
- Prior treatment with radioactive iodine or anti-thyroid mediations for hyperactive thyroid disease (or hyperthyroidism).
- Radiation therapy to the head or neck.
- Individuals who had prior thyroid surgery performed.
Symptoms of hypothyroidism:
Symptoms of hypothyroidism develop slowly over several years and include:
- Unexplained fatigue and tiredness.
- Sensitivity to cold.
- Weight gain.
- Depression and memory problems (especially in the elderly).
- Slow movements and thoughts.
- Muscle pains, cramps, and weakness.
- Dry, scaly skin.
- Thinning of hair.
- Loss of sexual drive.
- Irregular or heavy periods
- Increased blood cholesterol levels.
- Children with hypothyroidism may exhibit slower growth and development compared to their peers.
It is uncommon for hypothyroidism to pass unnoticed once the symptoms above appear.However, in the rare instances when such symptoms are missed, more serious symptoms may develop such as:
- Ahoarse, low-pitched voice.
- A puffy face.
- A slow heart rate.
- Thinning of the eyebrowsor missing outer part of the eyebrows.
- Hearing loss.
- Slow movements and thoughts.
Diagnosis and treatment of hypothyroidism
Hypothyroidism is easily diagnosed by a blood test for the level of TSH (thyroid-stimulating hormone) and that of T3 and T4. Treatment involves the use of the synthetic thyroid hormone – levothyroxine. Patients usually improve significantly following the start of treatment with resolution and reversal of most, if not all, symptoms. Follow-up TSH blood tests are then used to help the doctor determine the correct dose of levothyroxine for each patient.
The role of hydration in hypothyroidism
Hydration doesn’t have a direct effect on thyroid disease. However, adequate hydration such as the intravenous (IV) hydration provided by Vida-Flo can relieve the symptoms associated with hypothyroidism.
The carefully formulated 1,000 mL normal saline or Lactated Ringer’s lactate solution bags for IV hydration at Vida-Flo which contain vitamins, minerals and antioxidants provide relief from constipation, dry skin, dry hair, and brittle nails. An adequate fluid balance also helps regulate body temperature. Additionally, hydration and other treatment options like Glutathione, helps clear the body from toxins.