Secretions from several glands in the body are responsible for being healthy. One of them is known as the thyroid gland that secretes thyroid hormones, thyroxine (also known as T4) and triiodothyronine or T3. Under or over secretion of the hormone can be harmful and interfere with their normal functioning. Hypothyroidism occurs when the thyroid gland secretes less thyroid hormones. Studies show that 1 in 10 Indians might have hypothyroidism, according to a survey conducted by the Indian Thyroid Society.
How does it work?
The thyroid gland absorbs iodine from food and converts it into hormones. T3 and T4 are released into the bloodstream and they act on different tissues. They mainly regulate metabolism and have effects on body weight, cholesterol levels, heart rate, menstrual cycles, nervous systems, etc.
The TSH hormone controls the thyroid gland, after release from the pituitary gland.
In hypothyroidism, insufficiency of thyroid hormones secreted hampers with metabolism. Women are thrice as likely to get hypothyroidism, especially older women, compared to men. The causes can include radiation exposure to the neck, iodine deficiency, pregnancy, disorders of the pituitary or hypothalamus. It may also be hereditary.
Signs and symptoms
Symptoms vary slightly between men and women. Symptoms of hypothyroidism include –
- Irregular periods
- Weight gain
- Sensitivity to cold
- Hair loss
- Concentration problems
- An increase in blood pressure
Hypothyroidism in pregnant woman can affect the baby’s well-being, passing the disorder onto him/her too.
How to control hypothyroidism?
Testing blood for T3, T4 and TSH levels can determine thyroid disorders. You maybe suffering from hypothyroidism if your hormone levels are lower than the recommended levels. Doctors generally recommend Eltroxin tablets, which are to be taken every morning on an empty stomach. The pills are of different doses and prescriptions vary according to the severity of the disorder. Thyroid gland function may improve through exercise.
Keeping hypothyroidism under control helps prevent future complications like obesity, heart problems, infertility and joint pain.