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Hypothyroidism: Symptoms and Treatment

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As you may have read in our article What Are Normal Thyroid Levels?, the thyroid is an incredibly important organ in our bodies. If you haven’t, here’s what you should know: The thyroid is a small gland that sits below the larynx. Its main job is to secrete hormones into the body – primarily the hormones T3 and T4, which regulate a person’s overall metabolism or how the body uses energy. You can now quickly and easily measure key hormone levels from the comfort of your own home with Homed-IQ’s Thyroid Blood Test.

What is hypothyroidism?

As already mentioned, the thyroid gland is responsible for the production of (metabolic) hormones. An under-active thyroid occurs when the thyroid produces fewer hormones than the body needs. This means the body lacks thyroid hormone, which slows down the metabolism. This in turn can lead to symptoms such as constipation, fatigue and low mood.

What are the symptoms of an under-active thyroid?

An underactive thyroid affects the entire body. Characteristic symptoms of an underactive thyroid include:

  • Unwanted weight gain
  • Elevated cholesterol levels (also worth reading: cholesterol and your health)
  • Dry and pale skin
  • Sensitivity to cold
  • Weak hair + hair loss
  • Chronic constipation

Causes of hypothyroidism

An under-active thyroid can have different origins. Causes can include:

  • Removal of the thyroid or damage due to radiation for thyroid cancer
  • Too much or too little iodine in the body
  • Thyroid infection
  • Benign and malignant tumors on the thyroid 
  • Congenital hypothyroidism

What to eat if you have an under-active thyroid

People who suffer from hypothyroidism should make sure they get enough iodine, because the thyroid gland needs iodine to produce hormones. Adolescents and adults up to the age of 50 have a daily iodine requirement of 200 micrograms. This value is low, but still difficult to achieve for many people. This is because in the Netherlands and other parts of Europe, foods do not naturally contain sufficient iodine to meet daily requirements. Therefore, iodized salt is commonly used to add extra iodine into the diets of individuals.

Treating hypothyroidism

Unfortunately, hypothyroidism cannot be cured. However, this is not the end of the world, because hypothyroidism can be treated with a daily intake of hormone tablets. By consuming hormone tablets daily, symptoms of hypothyroidism usually disappear completely. Medication-controlled hypothyroidism usually causes no symptoms.

References

apotheken-umschau.de. (2017 August 8). Hypothyroidism: Symptoms and Treatment. Pharmacy magazine. Retrieved May 12, 2022, from https://www.apotheken-umschau.de/opathien-symptome/thyroid-under-function-symptome-und-treatment-734397.html#causes-of-an-under-function

Professional association of German internists. (2017, August 18). Causes » Hypothyroidism » Diseases » Internists on the Net ». internists online. Retrieved on May 12, 2022, from https://www.internisten-im-netz.de/opathien/schilddruesenunterfunktion/causes.html

Feichter, M. (2021a, March 22). hypothyroidism. NetDoctor. Retrieved on May 12, 2022, from https://www.netdoktor.de/opathien/schilddruesenunterfunktion/

Feichter, M. (2021b, March 22). Hypothyroidism – Nutrition. NetDoctor. Retrieved on May 12, 2022 from https://www.netdoktor.de/opathien/schilddruesenunterfunktion/ernaehrung/

Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care (IQWiG). (2021a, June 2). Are there any benefits to treating latent hypothyroidism? gesundheitsinformation.de. Retrieved on May 12, 2022, from https://www.gesundheitsinformation.de/hat-es-benefits-eine-latente-thyroidusenunterfunktion-zu-behandeln.html

Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care (IQWiG). (2021b, July 2). Underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism). gesundheitsinformation.de. Retrieved on May 12, 2022 from https://www.gesundheitsinformation.de/schilddruesenunterfunktion-hypothyreose.html

Müller, C. (2019, August 20). Iodine – too little, too much or well taken care of. National Center for Nutrition. Retrieved May 12, 2022 from https://landeszentrum-bw.de/,Lde/Startseite/wissen/jod-zu-wenig-zu-viel-oder-doch-gut-versorgt

About the Author

Lauren Dobischok

Lauren is a health scientist and science communicator living in the Netherlands. She has completed a Research Master in Health Sciences at Erasmus University Rotterdam’s Netherlands Institute for Health Sciences (NIHES) with a specialization in epidemiology, and a B.Sc. in Health Sciences at Simon Fraser University. With a background in public health, her goal is to create accurate scientific content that is easy to understand and enables people to make informed decisions. Within Homed-IQ, Lauren serves as Product Developer and Content Lead, working closely with medical doctors and medical device scientists on Homed-IQ’s new products and written communications.

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