A Hypothyroidism or Hypothyroidism is known for the fact that too few hormones are produced in the thyroid gland. It is also known that all hormones for metabolic processes are formed in the thyroid gland and are therefore vital. If the production of hormones falls, the performance of the person decreases rapidly.
Infogram on the anatomy and position of the thyroid gland, as well as the symptoms of hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism. Click image to enlarge.
The Hypothyroidism is a worldwide disease. Nevertheless, the importance of the thyroid is unknown to many unaffected. The thyroid is a vital organ that sits below the larynx and takes control of the entire human metabolism. This happens through the formation of the two thyroid hormones thyroxine and triiodothyronine. The thyroid gland looks like a butterfly in that it has right and left lobes that are connected in the middle. Their weight in adults is between 20 and 60 grams.
With an underactive thyroid, in technical terms Hypothyroidism called, the thyroid gland produces too few or even no hormones. The lack of thyroid hormones in the human body results in a slowdown in all metabolic processes and reduced performance. Hypothyroidism is particularly dangerous in children as it can delay physical and mental development, because the thyroid hormones are responsible for the development and maturation of the body, especially the brain, even in the embryo.
To produce the hormones, the thyroid needs iodine (iodine), which is absorbed through food. In adults, the thyroid gland controls not only the metabolism, but also heart rate and body temperature.
There are different causes for one Hypothyroidism. It can be innate or, more likely, triggered by a disorder of the thyroid tissue.
The hypothyroidism is first differentiated into congenital and acquired hypothyroidism. There are two forms of acquired thyroid function: hypothyroidism, which is caused by improper use of iodine or too little iodine, or hypothyroidism, which is deficient in thyroid tissue due to illnesses, radiation therapy or surgery.
Despite the various forms and causes, the symptoms of an underactive thyroid are the same: Those affected are often tired, lackluster and depressed. Loss of appetite, a lack of thirst and weight gain are also consequences of the underactive thyroid.
Dry, rough skin and brittle hair can also be signs of this disease. Due to the slowed metabolism, the pulse slows down and the body temperature drops, which increases sensitivity to cold.
A deficiency in thyroid hormones affects various organs and can therefore lead to a wide variety of symptoms. These can be physical and psychological. The most common signs of an underactive thyroid include tiredness with an increased need for sleep, listlessness and listlessness. The reduction in performance can also manifest itself as impaired concentration, poor memory or slowing of the reflexes.
These signs are often only recognized very late in older people as evidence of an underactive thyroid. In addition, depressive moods and increased disinterest can occur. Freezing (sensitivity to cold) and pale skin can also be indications of an underactive thyroid. The dysfunction can also lead to weight gain, increased LDL levels in the blood, and pain and muscle weakness.
Since the body is only "running on the back burner" due to the hypothyroidism, hair and fingernails become brittle. Skin problems can arise. The subcutaneous connective tissue, especially around the eyelids, can swell. Voice and language can also be affected.
An underactive thyroid can lead to a reduction in sexual pleasure and male potency. Constipation and loss of appetite are also signs of a slow metabolism due to an underactive thyroid. Circulatory disorders can also appear as symptoms. Long-term, untreated hypothyroidism can cause the heart to slow down. Heart muscle weakness can also occur.
Will be a Hypothyroidism Untreated or diagnosed too late in young children, the lack of hormones can result in mental and physical disabilities. In adults, the organs in particular are impaired in their functionality. Noticeable symptoms are sensitivity to cold, dry skin, weight gain, slow pulse and lack of drive.
Congenital hypothyroidism, which is not treated, runs with considerable complications and that even in infancy. The diagnosis is a special form of the incorrectly formed thyroid within embryonic development. The reason for this could be traced back to the mother's insufficient iodine supply.
If the mother-to-be fails to provide medical advice during pregnancy and the legally required newborn screening, she risks the life and healthy development of the child. Congenital hypothyroidism can affect one in 3,000 newborns. Early diagnosis avoids complications such as numerous developmental deficits that make the child a need for care.
An incorrect development of the thyroid affects mental maturity, overall body growth, psychomotor functions and bone formation. Hearing and breathing are also severely impaired.
If targeted medication is administered within 14 days of the birth, many of the consequential physical and mental damage can be avoided. Irreversible deficits can be avoided. If the mother refuses any medical help, the infant's condition can deteriorate to such an extent that the underactive thyroid threatens a myxedema coma.
In the case of the latter, water accumulates under the child's skin and floats it up, especially in the area of the limbs and face. If this life-threatening form of complication is not treated immediately, the child can succumb to myxedema.
If certain symptoms persist, a doctor should always be consulted. It is important for the family doctor to rule out other diagnoses in order to treat the condition professionally. If feelings of weakness or great weight gain are noticed more often for no reason, an underactive thyroid is suspected.
The specialist in this hormonal disorder is the endocrinologist. The endocrinologist should only be seen if the general practitioner believes that the thyroid gland should be thoroughly examined. If the thyroid value is only moderately low with a normal blood test, it is not necessary to see a specialist. However, if values are in a very critically low range, an examination by an endocrinologist becomes inevitable. A specialist should also be consulted for other critical values. However, this only applies to values that are far below the norm.
The Hypothyroidism should be treated as early as possible. The treatment is usually medicated by the administration of artificial thyroxine. This is best suited to support the thyroid in its work, as it is not broken down by the body as quickly. It has not yet been possible to cure the actual causes of the hypothyroidism; drugs can only effectively reduce the effects.
In therapy, it is therefore essential to first determine the disease by taking a blood sample. Thereafter, therapy is usually influenced by drugs that act as hormone substitutes. If the dosage is set correctly and the patient sticks to the intake, performance can return to a normal state. Thus there is no danger to life for the patient.
The therapy begins with a low dose of hormones, which is gradually increased until the desired effect is achieved. The medication must be taken in the morning on an empty stomach. The metabolism should be checked annually by taking a blood sample. With the right treatment, those affected can usually lead a completely normal life, performance and life expectancy are then not restricted by the underactive thyroid. The most common side effect of this hormone therapy is weight gain.
A Hypothyroidism cannot be prevented directly. If an underactive thyroid has already occurred, lifelong hormone treatment is necessary. As a rule, an underactive thyroid cannot be properly prevented, as the causes can be quite different and are usually not influenced by external factors.
Lifelong hormone treatment will help manage the symptoms of this disease. If the underactive guilt gland is only caused by an iodine deficiency, the consistent use of iodized table salts can improve the iodine supply. Since sea fish in particular contains a lot of iodine, this should be on the menu twice a week. The additional intake of iodine preparations can also contribute to covering the daily iodine requirement.
The disease of an underactive thyroid requires a lot of patience and lifelong treatment from those affected. The severity of the disease - and any surgery - determines the frequency of controls. The long-term goal is to stabilize the body's metabolic and hormonal balance in the normal range and to avoid (repeated) growth of the thyroid.
In most cases, an annual blood test and a regular ultrasound scan of the neck region are sufficient. Directly after a thyroid operation, it is recommended to carry out more frequent controls until normalization of the hormone levels can be recognized. Long-term intake of the thyroid hormone thyroxine T4, which the thyroid gland no longer produces or only produces to a limited extent, is usually prescribed.
The more thyroid tissue that is removed during surgery, the higher the prescribed dosage will be. In some cases an additional intake of iodine tablets makes sense. Any fluctuations in hormone levels in the body are recognized in good time by regular blood tests.
An appropriate individual dosage of thyroxine counteracts these fluctuations and enables a largely normal life for those affected. If the values are in the ideal range after an operation, it is not necessary to take thyroxine. Nevertheless, this does not replace the regular check-ups to the doctor.
Medical treatment is necessary if the thyroid is underactive. In addition, the diet must be changed. Patients should eat a healthy and balanced diet. Instead of processed foods, it is best to eat home-cooked meals made from fresh ingredients. The food should mainly contain zinc and selenium. Both substances can be taken in through dietary supplements if the diet does not meet daily needs. Legumes, dairy products, meat and fish are also ideal.
In addition, vitamins B12, A, E and D should be consumed in sufficient quantities. Patients should maintain regular sleep. A good sleep rhythm contributes to a balanced immune system and thus to a stable thyroid. The rule of thumb is eight hours of sleep, which should be combined with a consistent routine.
In addition, regular exercise applies. Exercise and an active lifestyle alleviate the physical and psychological complaints associated with an underactive thyroid. Regular time-outs are just as important so that the body has enough time to recover. Resting phases are essential, especially after stressful phases. The medical check-ups should continue. In addition, the doctor must be informed of any complaints and symptoms.