Nearly 1 out of 10 Indians suffer from some sort of thyroid issues. Generally, women are more susceptible to thyroid disorders than men. And people who are already suffering from an auto immune disorders (Rheumatoid disorders, Celiac Disease, Type 1 Diabetes) are also more prone to thyroid disorders.
The thyroid is a butterfly shaped endocrine gland that produces two important hormones, namely Triiodothyronine (T3) and Thyroxine (T4). These two are responsible for some of the most important bodily functions such as growth, metabolism, homeostasis (body temperature control) and calcium utilization. Malfunctioning of the thyroid gland can result in either Hyperthyroidism (excess of thyroid hormones) or Hypothyroidism (lack of thyroid hormones).
Hypothyroidism is nothing but a medical condition in which the thyroid gland Is less active and does not release sufficient thyroid hormones T3 and T4.
Some of the most common signs and symptoms that are seen with underactive thyroid gland are
- Weight gain
- Skin issues
- Hair loss
- Mood swings ( Depression)
- Changes in menstrual cycle
- Stiffness and swelling of joints
- Inflammation: Hashimoto’s Thyroid, an auto immune disorder seen when the thyroid gland is inflamed is one of the most potential causes of hypothyroidism! In a patient with Hashimoto’s disease, their own body produces antibodies against thyroid gland and so there by destroys it.
- A diet that is lacking in Iodine and Selenium: The thyroid gland needs both Iodine and selenium to produce thyroid hormones. So, when a person is consuming a diet that is lacking in both these trace elements, it can lead to lack of functioning of thyroid gland.
- Hormonal Imbalance: Generally the function of thyroid gland is regulated by thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH), which in turn is regulated by the pituitary gland. So if any problem is there with the pituitary gland, then it affects the secretion of thyroid hormones
- Lack of Physical Activity: Doing any type of physical activity helps in managing stress levels which is the most important risk factor for Hypothyroidism. Suggested Read, Stress can hold us back! Here are 10 proven solutions…
- Drug Interactions: Some drugs that are used for treating cancer, heart problems, and psychiatric conditions will interfere with the functioning of thyroid gland and there by leads to hypothyroidism. Example of such drugs includes sulfonyl ureas, potassium iodide, and methimazole etc.
A doctor, particularly an endocrinologist will help in diagnosing the hypothyroidism. He will take into consideration previous medical history, signs & symptoms etc. The doctor may suggest a blood test as well which measures TSH ( thyroid stimulating hormone) and T4 ( Thyroxine) levels.
TSH Testing: Hypothyroidism is a result of decreased levels of both Triiodothyronine (T3) & Thyroxine (T4) hormones. The pituitary gland secretes a hormone called TSH (Thyroid Stimulating Hormone). This TSH acts on the thyroid gland and is the one which is responsible for secretion both T3 & T4. So, TSH is used as a marker of one’s thyroid health. TSH Test measures the amount of T4 that the thyroid gland is signaled to make. TSH is measured in milliunits per liter mU/L. These TSH values vary from lab to lab, person to person and even change over the time of a day. The normal values are as below.
0.45 mU/L to 4.50 mU/L — Normal Range
- If the TSH value is >4.50 mU/L, then the T4 test is done to verify the results. So now high TSH values with low T4 levels indicate Hypothyroidism.
- If your TSH >4.50mU/L and T4 is normal, then the doctor will go for Serum Anti-Thyroid Peroxidase Antibodies Testing (Anti-TPO). If at all the test result is positive it shows Autoimmune Thyroid Disorder, which is a risk factor for Hypothyroidism.
T4 Testing: If your free T4 levels are too low, then it indicates that it shows that a persons thyroid gland is not working properly. The normal range of T4 is 5 to 13.5 micro grams per deciliter.
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Hypothyroidism is mostly a lifestyle disorder that is reversible with simple and sustainable lifestyle changes. But that’s not that easy of a task to do, is it? So some of the treatment options available for Hypothyroidism are :
Hypothyroidism is treated using synthetic thyroid hormone medicines like Levothyroxine. This oral medication will help in restoring the hormone levels and there by helps in reversing the different signs and symptoms associated with it. To determine the correct dosage of this medication, your doctor will monitor your biochemical parameters frequently. If at all the dose is high, then it leads to several complications like insomnia, palpitations, increased appetite etc…So always check with your physician regarding dosage part. Generally, the synthetic medicine contains only thyroxine (T4), the triiodothyronine (T3) that your body requires is prepared from T4. Certain medications like Antacids which contain aluminum hydroxide and Iron supplements will interfere with the functioning of Thyroid medication.
Diet plays an important role in both managing and reversing your thyroid levels. High glycemic carbohydrates like processed grains, sugary foods, cool drinks, juices, low fiber cereals are to be taken in moderation. Virgin cold pressed coconut oil will help in kick-starting the thyroid gland and so there by increasing the metabolism as well. A diet high in the good amount of fats, sufficient amount of protein and moderate carbs works well for people with hypothyroid.
This is Hypothyroid Series and we will be discussing diet and nutrition tips to combat Hypothyroidism in next article of the series. So stay tuned/subscribe for more…
A person with hypothyroid will have low energy levels, inflammation etc. Exercise helps with boosting energy levels and aleviating inflammtion as well. Always consult your doctor before starting any physical activity. Do remember that physical activity should always be balanced with quality of sleep and the right amount of nutrition.
Need expert advise? Consult a Doctor/Endocrinologist @DawaiBox today.