One of the most common causes of hypothyroidism is an autoimmune condition called Hashimoto’s disease, and it is a pretty common disorder among women. Hashimoto’s disease or sometimes called Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is an autoimmune disease in which the body mistakenly attacks its own thyroid tissues. The thyroid gland is usually enlarged. The thyroid is a small, butterfly-shaped gland, located in front of the neck just below the larynx (voice box). The thyroid releases hormones which control your metabolism. Hypothyroidism means that your thyroid is not producing enough thyroid hormones. Thyroiditis is an inflammation of the thyroid gland caused by white blood cells called lymphocytes. Anyone can become a victim to hypothyroidism, but older adults especially women are more likely to get it.
Causes of Hypothyroidism
Hypothyroidism affects your entire body. It makes you tired and weak, anxious, depressed and moody among many other symptoms. Hypothyroid patients also have higher cholesterol levels so they are more susceptible to a heart attack or stroke. Hypothyroidism is usually diagnosed with a TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) test. The National Academy of Clinical Biochemistry, part of the Academy of the American Association for Clinical Chemistry (AACC) reported that more than 95% of rigorously screened normal euthyroid volunteers have serum TSH values between 0.4 and 2.5 mIU/L. But labs still consider normal TSH to be anywhere between .5 to 5.0 thus the many undiagnosed hypothyroid patients whose results are considered “normal” and yet they suffer from symptoms of hypothyroidism. In order to diagnose Hashimoto’s, your doctor needs to order two more tests in addition to the TSH test, these are TPO-ab (thyroid peroxidase antibodies) and TG-ab (Thyroglobulin antibodies). Listed below are some causes of hypothyroidism:
• Genetic defects
• Hashimoto’s thyroiditis
• Hyperthyroidism overtreatment
• Radiation treatment for some forms of neck cancers
• Surgical procedures done due to viral infection of the thyroid
• Damage to the thyroid from a car accident or another trauma
• Inadequate iodine intake
• Pituitary Disorder
Risk Factors for Hypothyroidism
Older women are more susceptible to hypothyroidism compared to men, and as menopause and hypothyroidism symptoms can be similar, this autoimmune condition may easily be overlooked and misdiagnosed. Another risk factor for women is pregnancy, since hypothyroidism may occur in some cases while pregnant. Hypothyroidism is then treated with thyroxine, which is much like the T4 made by the thyroid gland. There are known issues for children born to mothers with untreated hypothyroidism. A 1999 study found that untreated hypothyroidism in mothers can lead to lower IQ for their children. Besides gender and age, other risk factors include:
• Having a close relative or a family member with the disease
• Having an autoimmune disease
• Radioactive iodine or anti-thyroid medications treatments
• Radiation to your neck or upper chest
• Thyroid surgery or partial thyroidectomy
Diagnosis and Treatment of Hypothyroidism
A good physician will ask you some questions about you and your family’s medical history and then give you a thorough physical exam. Your thyroid gland might appear enlarged and your body temperature might be lower than normal. If you have hypothyroidism, a blood test will show if your thyroid is too low. The standard treatment for Hashimoto’s and hypothyroidism is T4 hormone replacement, usually taken once a day in the morning. You probably know from my other articles that I don’t agree with thyroid hormone replacement as the only treatment for Hashimoto’s simply because Hashimoto’s is an auto-immune condition and you need to treat the cause of the disease if you are to regain your health as opposed to treating the symptoms only.
Always ask for a copy of your lab test results for your records. If you think you might have a thyroid problem and your doctor hasn’t ordered the right tests as was in my case, you can use a home testing kit to check your thyroid hormone levels. I recommend these Thyroid Testing Kits – Click Here. They are affordable and you don’t need a doctor’s referral. The results are sent to you in about 24 hours and it’s all confidential.
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Filed in: hypothyroidism, Hashimoto’s, hypothyroidism treatment, autoimmune thyroiditis