Hypothyroidism – Taking A Deeper Look

 

Today we’re taking a deeper look at hypothyroidism, the causes, symptoms and the ways you can prevent it.

Hypothyroidism is caused by damage to the thyroid glandwhich prevents it from producing the necessary levels of the thyroid hormones T3 and T4. However,  dietary factors and certain medications have also been shown to cause the condition. https://www.nhsheroes.co.uk/

It affects about 1 in 1,000 men and 1 in 50 women. The symptoms include depression, tiredness and weight gain (which all of us experience at some time!), and memory problems…so, without blood tests, it may be misdiagnosed.

The depression may be blamed on the period before and after pregnancy, and the memory issues have, at times, been incorrectly blamed on Alzheimer’s and dementia in some older patients.

The main causes include:

Autoimmune thyroiditis (also known as Hashimoto’s thyroiditis) is a disease in which the immune system malfunctions and creates antibodies that attack your thyroid gland. Gradually the disease inhibits the thyroid gland’s ability to produce T3 and T4 and slowly leads to the development hypothyroidism.

Although this is one of the leading causes of hypothyroidism, unfortunately, as with many autoimmune diseases, the trigger is unknown.

Thyroid surgery can sometimes damage the thyroid gland and limit the amount of thyroid hormones it can produce.

Thyroid radiotherapy often has a similar effect to thyroid surgery, and can damage the thyroid gland resulting in inadequate levels of T3 and T4 production.

Your body uses iodine to produce both T3 and T4, so if you don’t get enough of this nutrient in your diet, your body will not be able to produce adequate amounts of them.

Certain medications can interfere with the thyroid gland and prevent it from producing adequate levels of thyroid hormones. The list includes (but is not limited to) the following:

  • -Steroids like prednisone and hydrocortisone, which treat inflammation

  • -Amiodarone, which is a heart medication

  • -Lithium, used with some psychiatric treatments

  • -Propranolol, used to manage high blood pressure

In some rare instances, the pituitary gland does not produce enough thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH), obviously, not enough stimulation means not enough thyroid hormone production.

Symptoms Of Hypothyroidism

Symptoms appear slowly, over several months and even years. Since low levels of T3 and T4 affect a number of processes in the body, including body temperature, heart rate, metabolism and growth, it leads to a variety of symptoms, which may include the following.

  • Coarse and thinning hair
  • Dry skin
  • Brittle nails.
  • A yellowish tint to the skin.
  • Slow body movements.
  • Cold skin.
  • Inability to tolerate cold.
  • Feeling tired, sluggish, or weak.
  • Memory problems, depression, or problems concentrating.
  • Constipation
  • Heavy or irregular menstrual periods that may last longer than 5 to 7 days.
Less common symptoms may include:
  • An enlarged thyroid gland (goiter).
  • Modest weight gain, often 10# or less.
  • Swelling of the arms, hands, legs and feet, facial puffiness around the eyes
  • Hoarseness.
  • Muscle aches and cramps.
Generally, the severity of the symptoms depends on age, the length of time you’ve had hypothyroidism, and how serious/advanced the condition is. Symptoms may go unnoticed for years. The older you are, the more likely you are to notice the symptoms. 

Prevention

Although many of the causes of hypothyroidism cannot be fully prevented,  keeping your thyroid gland healthy is one of the best ways to protect yourself against this condition. The list below highlights three natural ways to keep your thyroid healthy and fight hypothyroidism:

The B complex vitamins, iodine, iron and omega 3 essential fatty acids are all believed to enhance the function of the thyroid gland, allow it to produce more thyroid hormones and prevent hypothyroidism. Some of the best food sources of these nutrients include beef, dairy products and salmon.

  • Avoid Foods That Interfere With Thyroid Function
Not all foods are good for your thyroid gland and studies have shown that soy and many cruciferous vegetables can inhibit thyroid function when consumed in large quantities. These foods still have many other health benefits, however, so there’s no need to cut them from your diet completely, just eat them in moderation.

High intensity exercise increases the amount of TSH in your blood stream.As discussed earlier in this article, TSH stimulates the production of T3 and T4 which means regular exercise could protect against hypothyroidism.

While these natural solutions listed won’t protect against all instances of hypothyroidism, they will strengthen your thyroid gland, keep it healthy and cut your risk.


Written by Ilse in misc on Fri 09 December 2016.