Found in the front of your neck, the thyroid gland is often referred to as the butterfly shaped gland.
The diagnosable medical condition in which the gland does not produce sufficient amounts of the hormones, thyroxine (T3) and triiodothyronine (T4), is called Hypothyroidism. These hormones help control your body’s cardiovascular, nervous and gastrointestinal systems, alongside metabolism, body weight and body temperature.
Having one or more risk factors can raise your chances of getting the condition, but with Hypothyroidism, nothing is a sure thing. Below are some common risk factors:
- Type 1 Diabetes
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Systemic lupus erythematosus
- Previous thyroid surgery
- Radiation of the head or neck
- Age- increased risk post 65 years of age
- Gender-women are more likely than men
- Genetics- family history of Hypothyroidism and/or auto-immune disorders increases risk
- Pregnancy: 10% of women get postpartum thyroiditis. Those who have had it before are likely to get it again in the future.
Ask your doctor if there are lifestyle changes that you can make to lower your risk for Hypothyroidism.
Hypothyroidism begins slowly for most over weeks or months, making it difficult to recognize the condition right away. Symptoms vary person to person and are dependent on personal risk factor(s) and time frame your body has gone without the thyroid hormones. Some common symptoms include:
- Weight gain
- Dry skin or hair
- Enlarged thyroid gland or fullness of the neck
- Trouble breathing or swallowing or trouble breathing
- Difficulty handling cold temperatures
- Facial puffiness
- Lessened sweating
- Slower heart rate
- Issues with memory and alertness
Other symptoms may also exist. Some people have one symptom, but most experience multiple.
Your doctor may make some suggestions around lifestyle changes that will decrease your risk of Hypothyroidism. However, for the most part, medication is the most commonly used method of treatment. A list of some common prescription thyroid medications is:
- Levothyroxine (LT4)
- Triiodothyronine (T3)
It is recommended to take the same brand of medication to avoid any unwanted disruptions in treatment. Be sure that your doctor monitors each level of the thyroid hormones to avoid any surprises in symptoms or treatment in the future. Some people notice a change in as little as 1-2 weeks, whereas others it takes 3-6 months. Always consult with your doctor when you make any lifestyle change that can impact your thyroid health and if you have any other medical questions.
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– CASEY EDMONDS, CHWC, CPT, CMS
Health Advisor | Email Casey