It is also known as underactive thyroid disease, which occurs when sufficient hormones are not produced by the thyroid gland. The functioning of the body decreases when thyroxin levels are low. One of the reasons why hypothyroidism occurs is when people have an inflammatory disease called Hashimoto’s thyroiditis.
Causes of Hypothyroidism
- Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is one of the common causes of hypothyroidism. The inflammation of the thyroid gland is known as Thyroiditis. In Hashimoto’s thyroiditis the thyroid gland is attacked and destroyed by the body that produces antibodies, it is also an autoimmune disorder and a viral infection can also cause Thyroiditis.
- Another cause of Hypothyroidism is a low level of iodine in the diet. Iodine is required by the thyroid to produce thyroid hormone. Iodine is required through the diet as the body does not produce iodine.
- One of the causes of Hypothyroidism is the use of certain medications. The production of the thyroid hormone can be affected by some medicines that treat psychiatric conditions, cancer and heart problems.
- Radioactive iodine treatment is also the cause of hypothyroidism as people who have an over reactive thyroid gland undergo this treatment. When the cells in the thyroid gland are destroyed by the radiation it leads to Hypothyroidism.
- Cancers like Lymphoma needs radiation to the neck to be treated and the cells in the thyroid can be damaged by the radiation and it gets difficult for the gland to produce the hormone.
- Thyroid surgery to remove the thyroid can cause Hypothyroidism.
- At times there are issues with the thyroid at birth, few babies might be born with a thyroid gland that does not work properly or did not develop correctly, this is called congenital Hypothyroidism
- Problems with the pituitary gland might interfere with the production of thyroid hormone, the thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) is made by the pituitary gland. It tells the thyroid how much hormone it should release and make.
- A rare kind of hypothyroidism can occur when a hormone named TRH is not produced enough by the hypothalamus in the brain. The release of TSH from the pituitary gland is affected by the TRH.
- Weight gain and stress are linked to each other. During stress when the thyroid function slows (T4) Thyroxin and (T3) Triiodothyronine hormone levels fall, this increased stress may crop up as anxiety or depression when actually both are hypothyroid symptoms. Stress has a very bad effect on the body. If a person is really stressed the hypothyroid symptoms can get worse.
- At times inflammation of the thyroid occurs after pregnancy. This is known as postpartum thyroiditis. Women who have this condition usually their thyroid hormone levels experience a severe increase that is followed by a sharp drop in thyroid hormone production. Mostly women who have postpartum thyroiditis regain their normal thyroid function.
Symptoms of Hypothyroid: Symptoms of Hypothyroidism are as follows-
- Dry, rough pale skin
- Memory loss
- Decreased libido
- Abnormal menstrual cycles
- Frequent muscle aches and muscle cramps
- Hair loss
- Coarse or dry hair
- Intolerance towards cold
- Increased difficulty in losing weight or weight gain
How Is Hypothyroid Diagnosed?
Some of the ways to diagnose thyroid are-
Medical and family history: It is very important to know the medical and family history for diagnosing Hypothyroid
Blood tests are an important factor to diagnose hypothyroid-
T4 (Thyroxin) tests: T4 (Thyroxin) is produced by the thyroid gland. The free T4 index and the free T4 are blood tests that when combined with a TSH test can tell how the thyroid is functioning. The pituitary gland tells the thyroid that how much thyroxin is to be produced through signalling by TSH.
The pituitary gland consists of certain cells which decide what the body’s set point is. As determined by the pituitary gland the set point is the normal range of TSH the body needs. When the blood flows through the pituitary gland these same cells detect if there are adequate T4 levels in the body.
TSH Tests: This blood test is done to check the amount of T4 (Thyroxin). Hypothyroidism is detected when there is an abnormally high level of TSH.
Imaging: As hypothyroidism is usually diagnosed through blood tests, a thyroid ultrasound should be done when the doctor notices or just wants to check nodules or goitre on the physical examination. A doctor can determine the size of a nodule and if it has features that are suspicious for cancer through an ultrasound. At times to obtain a sample of cells within a nodule a needle biopsy is performed. These cells can be examined under a microscope more closely.
People who have central hypothyroidism imaging are done to examine the pituitary gland and the brain. A tumour may be revealed through an MRI of the pituitary gland.
Thyroid biopsy/Fine needle aspiration (FNA) biopsy: Suspicious thyroid lumps and nodules are detected through (FNA) biopsy. A thin needle is directly inserted into the nodule in a needle biopsy. A few cells are withdrawn and are tested for cancer.
Ways to Treat Hypothyroidism
Taking a herbal supplement and changing the diet are 2 methods that can help control the thyroid conditions. People who have hypothyroidism should eat food like-
- Selenium: Having food items that contain Selenium can be good for controlling thyroid levels. Food items that are rich in selenium are tuna, turkey, Brazil nuts and grass-fed beef. Having these food items have shown to balance T4 or Thyroxin levels in people.
- Sugar – free diet: Processed foods and sugar in the body can lead to an increase in inflammation. The conversion of T4 to triiodothyronine can slow down due to inflammation. Having sugar in the diet can make the thyroid symptoms even worse. Removing sugar from the diet can help regulate the energy levels. A sugar-free diet can make life better for those having hypothyroid.
- Vitamin B: Taking Vitamin B-12 supplements is good for people who have hypothyroidism. More B vitamins can be added to the diet by eating the following foods- Sesame seeds, Asparagus, peas, Milk, cheese, Eggs, tuna. Tiredness that is caused by Thyroid disease can be cured by taking Vitamin B-12, it is known to be safe for many individuals but the vitamin should be used with caution if people have problems like history of cancer, blood clotting disorders, increased uric acid or gout, heart disorder, discoloured urine, skin disorders, stomach issues, high blood pressure and anaemia due to abnormal potassium levels.
- Iodine: It is a mineral needed to make thyroid hormones. People who lack iodine may suffer from hypothyroidism. People who have iodine deficiency can add iodized table salt to their meals or have foods that are rich in iodine like eggs, fish, dairy and seaweed
- Zinc: Zinc also activates the thyroid hormones like selenium. Foods like chicken, other shellfish, beef and oysters that have zinc content should be eaten. People who have hypothyroidism should eat foods that have zinc
- A diet that is based around fruits; lean meats and vegetables should be eaten by people who have hypothyroidism as they help prevent weight gain and are low in calories.
Foods to Avoid In Hypothyroidism
- Goitrogens: Foods that contain goitrogens are nuts and seeds like pine, nuts, peanuts and millets etc. Certain vegetables that have goitrogens are – cauliflower, cabbage, broccoli, kale and spinach. Starchy plants and fruits that contain goitrogens are peaches, cassava, strawberries and sweet potatoes. Soy foods like Edamame, tempeh and tofu contain Goitrogens. Goitrogens should be avoided.
- Gluten: It is a protein that is found in grains like Rye, barley and wheat. People who have hypothyroidism should avoid foods that contain gluten.