Decreased thyroid gland function
Decreased thyroid gland function
Decreased thyroid gland function, hypothyroidism, is a disease during which the gland produces hormones insufficiently. Around 1% of population worldwide is affected. This increases to over 5% in people over 60 years old. It is most commonly discovered in its first stages, which significantly reduces the risks of complication, which mainly consist of polysaccharide buildup and the development of myxedema
Thyroid gland is found on the front part of the neck at shoulder height. Its main purpose is the production of hormones triiodothyronine (T3), thyroxine (T4) and calcitonin. The first two are hormones which influence many processes in the human body,4 and its metabolism in particular. They are involved in oxygen management, breaking down of lipids and protein production. Calcitonin is used to maintain calcium levels in blood, by removing it from the bloodstream and storing it in bones. Decreased thyroid gland function manifests by lack of T3 and T4.
Symptoms of hypothyroidism
The thyroid gland is involved with many processes in the human body, which is why symptoms of hypothyroidism are very complex. Light forms of the disease often have no noticeable symptoms and are usually discovered during general examination due to nonspecific issues. The symptoms generally develop gradually, but they are very typical, once they become fully developed. They include tiredness, muscular pain, slow reflexes, constipation, lower heart rate, changes in EKG, menstruation changes in women, swelling, weight gain or psychical issues. These symptoms are the result of a slowdown of metabolic processes in the whole organism. Decreased thyroid gland function in childhood leads to slower growth and psychomotoric development. Sufficient supply of iodine and thyroid hormones are necessary for the proper development of a child's brain.
Development of hypothyroidism
Hypothyroidism mainly occurs in women of higher age and can be discovered in varying stages in 10-15% of them. The causes of hypothyroidism are divided into primary, where the gland itself is affected by some disease and secondary, where the hypophysis, which controls the release of thyroid hormones is affected.
Primary causes of hypothyroidism are based on the damage of the thyroid gland itself. These are generally autoimmune diseases, during which some part of the immune system damages its own organs. A typical example of these diseases is the Hashimoto's thyroiditis, which has the organ afflicted by a chronic inflammation. In earlier ages the most common cause of hypothyroidism was a long term lack of iodine, which is now commonly added to kitchen salt. This issue is however still present in developing countries, which can have up to 75% of all populace afflicted with hypothyroidism. Other possible cause of hypothyroidism can be the result of a treatment of an increased function, when drugs called thyrostatics are employed, inhibiting the gland's activity. Their excessive use can even lead to hypothyroidism.
Secondary causes of hypothyroidism are very rare and involve issues with hypophysis. The hypophysis is an organ located in the brain, which controls the production of thyroid hormones. If the hypophysis is damaged due to inflammation, tumor or other causes, it can cause a condition known as a hypopituitarism, which means the insufficiency of hypophyseal hormone production. This indirectly influences the levels of thyroid hormones.
Diagnosis of decreased thyroid gland function
Diagnosis of hypothyroidism relies on the presence of typical symptoms, although a laboratory exam is crucial for confirmation. This exam is mainly focused on the levels of T4 and TSH, which is the thyreotropin hormone, which is produced in the hypophysis and stimulates the production of T3 and T4 in the thyroid gland. It serves to disvoer primary or secondary causes of the disease. It also examines the presence of antibodies against the thyroid gland, which would signify the autoimmune character of the disease. Of the imaging methods, ultrasound is used commonly, to establish the size, structure and blood supply of the organ.
Treatment of hypothyroidism
Treatment of hypothyroidism, regardless of the cause, mainly relies on supplying the missing hormones, supplying thyroxine (T4) is usually enough. This therapy is permanent and needs to be kept precisely. Regular examinations at your endocrinologist are also crucial. These examinations monitor any potential changes in the size of the thyroid gland and above all, the levels of hormones in blood, which need to be kept within a certain range. An excessive application of hormonal treatment can even cause hyperthyroidism, which is an increased function. Prognosis of hypothyroidism, if the treatment is early and proper, is very good and leads to full recovery. If left untreated, a myxedematic coma, caused by the buildup of polysaccharides in the skin and muscles can even cause the patient's death.