Thyroid conditions – those that affect the thyroid – the areas of the body that make certain hormones – affect many Canadians and can have such diverse and nuance symptoms that many Canadians don’t notice a condition for years. Up to 2% of people will experience hypothyroidism.
Getting to know a little more about Hypothyroidism – or the condition when not enough hormone is produced by the thyroid – is a good start towards ensuring good thyroid and full-body health for all Canadians. Here are some facts and frequently asked questions about Hypothyroidism and how the thyroid works:
What is the thyroid?
The thyroid is a small gland that sits in the neck, producing hormones for the entire body to use to regular things like energy levels, metabolism, and how your body uses energy. Working normally, the thyroid responds to constant feedback it get from the rest of the body to distribute hormones to keep everything in a coordinated balance.
What is Hypothyroidism?
Hypothyroidism is when something is inhibiting your body from using the thyroid and its hormones properly, often limiting the number of hormones released. This disrupts a delicate balance through the whole body, often making someone feel tired and sick. While there are a few different ways that Hypothyroidism can occur, and everyone’s body reacts differently to the change in hormones, these are some common signs and symptoms:
- Feeling tired and weak, or even depressed
- Difficulty withstanding cold temperatures
- Dry and brittle nails, skin, and hair
- Memory and cognitive issues
- For women, changes or irregularity in menstruation
The hormones released by the thyroid normally flood your system every day, helping to perform basic functions. Without the thyroid acting properly, many places that relied on the hormones from the thyroid can start to feel a little “slow.”
What Can Cause Hypothyroidism?
There are lots of potential causes for hypothyroidism, and to be sure you would need to speak with a medical professional about your medical history to find out if you have an underactive thyroid and why. Some possible causes for hypothyroidism include:
- Autoimmune disease: A common cause of hypothyroidism is Hashimoto’s thyroiditis or atrophic thyroiditis, both of which result when the body attacks the thyroid by mistake and prevents it from functioning and releasing enough hormone. Swelling of the thyroid from an infection can cause the same problems.
- Congenital: Some babies are born with a defective thyroid or unable to produce enough hormone
- Medical procedure: Some surgeries, medications and radiation therapies can have side effects that affect the ability of the thyroid to function properly.
Talk to Your Doctor About Hypothyroidism
Hypothyroidism has symptoms that can look like a number of other illnesses and diseases, so your doctor will need to do some investigating to pinpoint if you have a thyroid issue or not. Any time that you are feeling abnormal and have symptoms that cause discomfort, disruption, or are new, you should consider speaking with your doctor – You may be able to come up with some solutions that not only make life more comfortable, but prevent more disastrous health complications later on.