Causes and impacts of Hypothyroidism
October 27, 2008
Hypothyroidism is that condition in which the thyroid gland fails to produce enough thyroid hormone. Compared to its reverse condition hyperthyroidism, hypothyroidism is much more common. If the lowered secretion of the hormone is due to some irregularity in the thyroid gland, the condition is called primary hypothyroidism. Other reasons for hypothyroidism include certain medications such as nitroprusside, lithium, or iodides; surgical removal of the gland; radioactive iodine treatment etc. Hypothyroidism might also be caused as a consequence of the treatment done for hyperthyroidism. Decreased production of the thyroid-stimulating hormone by the pituitary gland also results in this disorder.
Though the disorder affects the person gradually, it is characterised by the sudden appearance of secondary symptoms such as severe muscle cramps in the arms, legs, neck, shoulders, and back. Primary symptoms such as fatigue and general tiredness often go unnoticed. The extent of the symptoms generally depends on the severity of thyroxin deficiency. If not detected and treated at the right time, hypothyroidism might develop into myxedema. The symptoms of myxedema include weight gain, swollen facial features, enlarged tongue and physical and mental sluggishness.
In most cases, hypothyroidism occurs as a result of Hashimoto’s disease, which is characterised by the inflammation of the thyroid gland. The immune system of the affected person fails to consider the thyroid gland as a part of the body and attacks it like a foreign object. This attack disables the thyroid gland and results in hypothyroidism.
One in every four thousand babies is born without the thyroid gland and is thus prone to hypothyroidism. Iodine-deficient diet also can lead to this disorder. Certain food stuffs such as cabbage, rutabagas, peanuts etc are found to interfere with the proper functioning of the gland. Artificial chemicals such as PCBs-if present in high levels in the environment- might also result in hypothyroidism.
The disorder not only makes its negative imprints on skin and eyes but also adversely affects the functioning of gastrointestinal system, reproductive system, neuromuscular system, respiratory system and cardiovascular system.