Your thyroid gland is small, but it’s very important to how well your body functions. It’s a small, butterfly shaped endocrine gland located in your neck in front of your windpipe. The endocrine system influences almost every cell, organ, and process in your body. It’s made up of various glands that produce your body’s chemical messengers known as hormones.
The thyroid is responsible for producing the hormones that regulate your body's metabolic rate controlling heart, muscle and digestive function, brain development and bone maintenance. The thyroid gland takes iodine from the foods you eat to produce two hormones called triiodothyronine (T3) thyroxine (T4). T3 and T4 is carried throughout your body through your bloodstream by your bloodstream and reaches every cell within your body, affecting how your body functions.
If your thyroid isn’t functioning properly or isn’t getting enough iodine, you’ll feel the effects in several ways. One of the most common thyroid disorders is an underactive thyroid, also known as hypothyroidism.
What is Hypothyroidism?
Hypothyroidism is a condition where the thyroid gland isn’t producing enough thyroid hormones. It can take a while for the symptoms of hypothyroidism to become noticeable and they can often be attributed to other conditions like stress and ageing.
You may not know you’re suffering from an underactive thyroid until the condition becomes more severe. At this point, the symptoms can seriously impact your quality of life. The symptoms of hypothyroidism will also depend on the severity of the condition.
Symptoms of an Underactive Thyroid:
- Sensitivity to cold
- Slower heart rate than normal
- Puffy face
- Hair loss
- Muscle aches and weakness
- Joint pain and swelling
- A swollen goitre in the neck
- High cholesterol
- Unexplained weight gain
- Dry skin
- Trouble concentrating
Children and teens with hypothyroidism tend to have symptoms similar to those of adults, but may end up with delayed puberty, poor mental development, and a delay in losing their baby teeth.
Infants with hypothyroidism may experience feeding problems, jaundice, constipation, poor growth, dry skin, and an enlarged tongue. Umbilical hernias can also develop. It’s important to get infants and babies treated right away so they don’t end up with lasting developmental problems.
Causes of An Underactive Thyroid
Anyone can develop hypothyroidism, but some groups are at a more increased risk. Women are more susceptible as well as people with a family history of thyroid disease. Hypothyroidism can also be linked to:
- Autoimmune diseases
- Radiation treatment for cancer in the head, neck, and chest
- Thyroid surgery
- Pituitary disorders
- Thyroiditis (an inflammation or infection of the thyroid gland)
- Medications like lithium
- Genetic defects of the thyroid gland
Are There Complications from An Underactive Thyroid?
If hypothyroidism goes untreated, several serious complications can develop like heart disease and high cholesterol. If you are given a diagnosis of hypothyroidism, you should get treatment as soon as possible to prevent complications from occurring.
Women who are pregnant or plan to get pregnant especially need to keep their thyroid levels in check. An underactive thyroid during pregnancy can lead to birth defects, premature birth, low birthweight, and miscarriage or stillbirth. The mother may also experience bleeding after giving birth or a serious condition called pre-eclampsia that causes dangerously high blood pressure and even death.
In extremely rare cases, a consistently underactive thyroid that goes untreated can cause myxoedema coma. Myxoedema comas occur when the thyroid hormones drop so low the patient becomes extremely confused and tired. It needs emergency treatment right away to prevent it from becoming worse.
Underactive Thyroid Diet
There are many types of foods you can add to your diet to boost your thyroid function. You should eat a well balanced and varied diet that includes fruit, vegetables, lean protein, and whole grains.
The better your diet is, the better your body will function and the more energy you will have. While the foods you eat can’t cause or cure a thyroid disorder, a healthy diet can help lessen the severity of the symptoms and improve your overall health. If you’re still finding yourself with low energy levels after following a better diet, try eating smaller meals throughout the day instead of 2-3 main meals.
Eating a balanced diet will also help with weight gain that is caused by hypothyroidism. Because your metabolic rate has slowed down and your energy levels are lower, it’s not uncommon to gain weight. Being overweight can cause several other serious health conditions like type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease.
If you are diagnosed with hypothyroidism, you may be prescribed a medication called levothyroxine. This is the main medication used to treat an underactive thyroid.
Levothyroxine tablets replace the thyroid hormones you are not producing enough of. Your dose will depend on the severity of your condition, and you may need regular blood tests at first to make sure you are on the right dose. Once the right dose is found, it’s likely you’ll still need to get regular blood tests to monitor for any necessary medication adjustments.
Since hypothyroidism is a lifelong condition, you’ll need to take levothyroxine tablets long-term. It’s best to take your levothyroxine tablets around the same time everyday so it will be correctly dispersed throughout your body. Most people take it in the morning, but you should take it at a time that works for you. For the medication to be effective, you should take it on an empty stomach with a glass of water. Don’t eat, snack, or take any supplements for at least 30 minutes after you take levothyroxine.
You should avoid certain foods for at least 4 hours after taking levothyroxine. Some foods can impact your body’s ability to fully absorb levothyroxine, including:
- Soya and soybeans
- Calcium and dairy (opt for lower fat versions where you can)
Effective Underactive thyroid treatment can be bought online in the UK from Pharmacy Planet. Treat your hypothyroidism and start feeling like yourself again with Levothyroxine tablets that we can have shipped right to your door.