Thyroid is a hormone responsible for efficient running of metabolism in humans. Hypothyroidism means low production of thyroid hormone in body. Individuals with this medical condition show symptoms associated with slow metabolism. Being diagnosed with hypothyroidism is not really something to panic about as this is a common medical condition. Going by the statistics, approximately 10 million Americans suffer from hypothyroidism. It is so common that millions of people do not even know that they are suffering from this medical condition.
There are two common causes of presence of less than sufficient thyroid hormone in humans. The first cause is a result of currently on going or previous inflammation of the thyroid gland. It damages a large percentage of the thyroid cells making them dead or incapable of producing sufficient hormone. The most common cause of thyroid gland failure is a form of thyroid inflammation caused by the individual’s own immune system.
The second cause is known as after effects of medical treatments. The treatment of many thyroid conditions may warrant surgical removal of a portion or all of the thyroid gland. In such cases, if the total mass of cells that produce thyroid left within the body are not enough to meet the needs of the body, the individual develops hypothyroidism.
Doctors often suggest tests for hypothyroidism for older women, pregnant women and women planning to start a family as they are more prone to suffer from this medical condition. The clearest symptoms include increased tiredness, dry skin and constipation. Diagnosis of hypothyroidism is based on the symptoms and the results of blood tests of the individual. The blood tests measure the level of TSH and the level of the thyroid hormone – Thyroxine. An abnormal condition or underactive thyroid is identified by low level of Thyroxine and high level of TSH. An individual’s pituitary produces more TSH to stimulate the thyroid gland to produce more thyroid hormone to overcome the state of hypothyroidism.
By using the sensitive TSH test, doctors are able to diagnose thyroid disorders much earlier than the symptoms surface. For diagnostics, TSH test is the best screening test and therefore, doctors are more likely to check TSH first and then follow with a thyroid hormone test in cases where it is needed. TSH tests also help the doctor in determining the right dosage of medication, both initially and over time to manage hypothyroidism.
Hypothyroidism may show different symptoms to different extent in different people. Any kind of medication without a qualified doctor’s supervision must be avoided. A doctor, after conducting the tests and studying the symptoms as mentioned above, prescribes the dosage of medicines or schedules the treatment accordingly. Standard treatment for hypothyroidism usually involves daily use of the synthetic thyroid hormone levothyroxine. It helps restore adequate hormone levels and reverses the signs and symptoms of hypothyroidism. The medication also helps in gradually lowering cholesterol levels elevated by the disease and may reverse any weight gain. Treatment with levothyroxine usually lasts life time but the dosage required by an individual may change and therefore, doctors are likely to suggest annual check up of the individual’s TSH level.