World Thyroid Day: Know all about hypothyroidism from an expert

Published on: 25 May 2022, 13:23 pm IST

Hypothyroidism, also called underactive thyroid disease, is a very common condition. On World Thyroid Day, find out how to treat your problem.

hypothyroidism
Untreated hypothyroidism is a problem! Image courtesy: Shutterstock
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Most people know that the thyroid gland is located in the neck. Triiodothyronine (T3) and Thyroxine (T4) hormones are secreted from the thyroid gland, and Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH) regulates the levels of both hormones in the blood according to the needs of the body. Of these, the thyroxine (T4) hormone is the most important. The T4 hormone is largely responsible for regulating the body’s metabolism. When this hormone is high, the condition is called hyperthyroidism, and when it is low, it’s called hypothyroidism.

When the body secretes less T4 (thyroxin) than it needs, the metabolism in the body is disrupted. This can lead to weight gain, hair fall, dry skin, loss of appetite, and constipation. Severe depression or coma can also occur in severe cases, but it’s rare.

hypothyroidism
Thyroid can be managed. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

Remember one thing; hypothyroidism usually causes only 2-3 kg weight gain, not 15 or 20 kg, so blame your unhealthy lifestyle instead of blaming your thyroid for your excess weight. In fact, weight gain can also happen to many people who do not even have any of these problems.

Types of hypothyroidism

There are two types of hypothyroidism.

1. Primary hypothyroidism

In primary hypothyroidism, the cause of the disease is not known (idiopathic or etiology is not known). The patient has to take a thyroid hormone pill for life.

2. Secondary hypothyroidism

In secondary hypothyroidism, for some reason (due to impaired function of the thyroid gland), it does not secrete the required amount of hormone for some time.

Causes of high Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH) levels

Whenever the TSH level in your blood report exceeds the given value, do not assume that you have thyroid disease.

Another thing—TSH levels depend on many other factors – physical or mental stress or illness, vitamin D levels, the period around menopause in women, etc.

Before starting medication, your doctor may prescribe some additional tests if necessary. For example, Anti TPO Antibody, Anti TG Antibody, or USG Thyroid.

Always follow your doctor’s advice for proper diagnosis and treatment.

hypothyroidism
Thyroid needs care. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

Now let’s talk about drug dosage to manage hypothyroidism

In the treatment of hypothyroidism, thyroxin (T4) hormone is given in pill form to be taken on an empty stomach in the morning.

The minimum therapeutic dose is 50 micrograms (a dose lower than this does not give the expected result), so if you are taking a lower dose, consult an endocrinologist to know the correct dose of your medicine.

It is important to have regular blood tests done when you are taking thyroid medicine so that your doctor can titrate (adjust) the dose of your medicine.

Thyroxine is a metabolic hormone, so the body needs different amounts in winter and summer. That is why blood tests should be done at least twice in a year and medicine should be taken as per the doctor’s advice.

Many people continue to take the drug in the same dose for years after seeing a doctor, which is not advisable as Thyroxine is a Metabolic Hormone that causes excessive damage to your bones and muscles (Myopathy, Osteopenia / Osteoporosis).

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Follow doctor’s advise to avoid thyroid issues. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

In short, hypothyroidism is a disease that does not harm any other part of the body (kidney, heart, eyes, brain, etc.) like BP or diabetes, even if you have been suffering from it for many years.

Takeaway

If we forget to add salt when making a meal, we put it additionally while eating. In the same way, your body does not secrete as much thyroxine hormone as it needs, so it has to be taken in pill form. It is as simple as that. So, eliminate the fear of hypothyroidism and take regular medication as per the doctor’s advice.

Dr Gaurangi Shah Dr Gaurangi Shah

Dr Gaurangi Shah, Consultant - General Medicine PD Hinduja Hospital & MRC  

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