The thyroid gland is a ductless endocrine gland, which secretes hormones. The hormones produced by the thyroid are primarily associated with calorie burning and regulating the heart rate.
The thyroid gland produces Thyroxine (T4) and Tri-iodothyronine (T3). Collectively T3 and T4 are referred to as thyroid hormones. The thyroid gland secretes protein hormone called thyrocalcitonin (TCT), which is responsible for regulating the blood calcium levels.
For a balanced metabolism, balanced secretion of these hormones is necessary. Conditions like Hyperthyroidism and Hypothyroidism occurs when excessive or less secretion occurs respectively.
What is Hypothyroidism?
Hypothyroidism is a disorder in which thyroid gland is underactive and does not produce or release enough thyroid hormones or thyroxin.
Symptoms of Hypothyroidism
Depending on the severity of the hormonal deficiency, the signs and symptoms vary from person to person.
When the thyroid gland is underactive, it does not secrete adequate thyroid hormone which gradually slows down the body’s processes. Therefore, it is very obvious that initially, one does not recognize any major symptoms in the body.
As the metabolism continues to slow down, signs and symptoms develop. Here are a few signs and symptoms of hypothyroidism:
- Weight gain with high cholesterol.
- Memory problems.
- Coarse and pale skin.
- Coarse and dry hair with hair loss.
- Cold intolerance.
- Muscle cramps with frequent muscle aches.
- Frequent constipation.
- Abnormal menstrual cycles.
- Decreased libido.
- Slow heartbeat.
- Excessive sleepiness and lack of energy.
There is no proper diet, which will heal hypothyroidism but few superfoods could help the thyroid gland to increase hormone secretion. The thyroid diet focuses on foods that support the healing of the gastrointestinal tract to reduce inflammation and balance hormones. Here are a few foods to include during hypothyroidism-
- Wild fish like salmon, mackerel, and sardines
- Coconut oil
- Probiotic-rich foods
- Sprouted seeds
- High-fiber foods
- Antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables
Few foods should be avoided with this disorder:
- Whole milk.
- Excess fiber.
- Soy products.
- Sugary foods.
- Processed foods.
- Gluten-containing foods.
- Fatty foods like butter, mayonnaise, margarine, and fatty parts of meat.
- Cruciferous Vegetables like broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, kale, turnips, and Bok Choy.
Causes of Hypothyroidism
This syndrome is quite common and is estimated at about 4% to 5% of the population is identified with hypothyroidism. As per certain research analyses, women are more prone to this disorder than men and also it increases along with age. The common causes of hypothyroidism are:
- Severe iodine deficiency.
- Hashimoto’s thyroiditis.
- Disorder of pituitary gland.
- Exposure of neck region to radiations.
- Damage or removal of the thyroid gland through surgery.
Diagnosis of Hypothyroidism
There are several tests and examinations available to conclude the symptoms. They include-
- General medical examination of weight, skin, blood pressure, eye, throat, pulse rate, etc.
- A blood test is performed to detect the level of triglyceride, cholesterol, and hormonal level of Thyroid-Stimulating Hormone including T3 and T4.
- CT, MRI, thyroid ultrasound and scans to detect the activity of the thyroid gland.
Treatment and Precautions for Hypothyroidism
The treatment available for this syndrome would be in the form of lifelong therapy. There is no permanent cure but it could be controlled by replacing the level of TSH, T4 and T3 hormones through medications. Few thyroid hormone supplements are available to treat this disorder. Before treating a patient with hypothyroidism, it is more important to check the age of a patient, causes, and thyroid hormone level.
There are certain safety measures to be followed to control or to reduce the symptoms, which includes-
- Having a balanced diet including Vitamin D-rich food and calcium supplements to avoid the weakness and thinning of bones.
- Regular exercise, walking. Indulge in weight-loss programs for managing weight.
- Intake of more water and fresh fruit juice to avoid dehydration.
- Quit smoking and consumption of alcohols.
- Regular hormonal level test to detect the functioning of the thyroid gland.
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