Hypothyroidism is a condition characterized by an abnormally low level of thyroid hormone production. Since thyroid hormones affect growth, development and many cellular processes, the lack of thyroid hormones may have widespread consequences for the body.
The condition may manifest through the following symptoms:
• Modest weight gain
• Cold intolerance
• Excessive sleepiness
• Dry, coarse hair
• Dry skin
• Muscle cramps
• Vague aches and pains
• Swelling of the legs
This lack in production of Thyroid hormones is caused by varied factors. Some of the most common ones are the following:
• Autoimmune Disease (Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis) is when your body’s own immune system attacks your own tissues, sometimes including the Thyroid gland
• Hyperthyroidism Treatment aims to reduce and normalize thyroid functions, but can sometimes lead to hypothyroidism
• Medications of certain types may contribute to hypothyroidism. Check with your doctor if your medication will have any effect on your thyroid gland
• Severe Iodine Deficiency, especially in countries with iodine deficient diets
Around the world, about 3%-5% of the population has some form of hypothyroidism. It has also been found that the condition is more common in women than men. More particularly, it is common in women of child-bearing age, wherein an estimated 2.5% of all pregnant women have some degree of hypothyroidism. Consequently, the condition affects both the mother and the baby. Mothers may manifest the typical symptoms of hypothyroidism like fatigue and weight gain, but the child may experience more serious consequences like premature birth, developmental delay or miscarriage.
This is why it is highly recommended for women who are planning a pregnancy to consider screening for any type of thyroid disease. A thyroid hormone test involves simple blood extraction to measure the levels of the hormones produced by the gland.
Commonly, mothers with hypothyroidism will be treated with thyroid medication to increase the production of hormones.
For more information on hypothyroidism and other pre-pregnancy concerns, please feel free to contact us.