Hypothyroidism, or underactive thyroid function, is a commonly reported thyroid disease. There are many common symptoms which characterize the presence of hypothyroidism, although a diagnosis is required for treatment.
Hypothyroidism can progress and cause a great number of complications if left untreated. Getting regular screenings to ensure an early diagnosis and knowing the symptoms of hypothyroidism will prevent the onset of the complications. The list below is a group of common complications which can occur if hypothyroidism isn’t treated properly.
If you are pregnant and have a thyroid disorder like hypothyroidism, your child may have a higher risk of developing birth defects than babies born to healthy mothers. Infants born to women with untreated thyroid illnesses might have mental and physical growth issues since thyroid hormones are vital for brain growth. Fortunately, if such problems are addressed shortly after the birth, the child may experience a normal, healthy development. An abbreviated thyroid function test is part of the newborn screen. This includes a panel of blood tests performed to exclude diseases.
An excessive stimulation can cause the thyroid gland to expand to the point where you’ve got a bulge on your neck when your thyroid over exerts itself in an effort to make an adequate amount of hormones. This is known as a goiter.
Hypothyroidism in its mildest forms, can affect the health of your heart. An underactive thyroid can boost your chance of developing heart disease because it raises levels of “bad” cholesterol. Too much bad cholesterol can result in atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries, which can increase your risk of heart attacks and strokes. Hypothyroidism can result in the buildup of fluid around the heart, medically referred to as pericardial effusion, which might make it harder for the heart to pump blood, affecting its overall function and that of the body.
Hypothyroidism can affect ovulation and decrease the chances of conceiving, if thyroid hormone levels are too low. Even with appropriate treatment for hypothyroidism, such as that of thyroid hormone replacement therapy, there is not any guarantee that the woman will be fully fertile.
If left untreated the signs of hypothyroidism can have a toll on the body and mind of the individual. Mild hypothyroidism can cause mild forms of depression. However, the symptoms of hypothyroidism may increase over time. This can directly affect your psychological condition, and your depression may intensify as an outcome. Moreover, untreated hypothyroidism has been associated with a decrease in psychological functioning.
Myxedema is the term for extreme hypothyroidism which occurs if the disease has progressed for a very long time with no treatment. Since it’s highly unlikely that you wouldn’t seek treatment and wouldn’t recognize the signs, Myxedema is quite rare. This kind of hypothyroidism is life threatening. Your metabolism can slow down to the point at which you would fall into a coma. If you experience symptoms such as extreme fatigue or cold intolerance, associated symptoms of myxedema, seek medical treatment from a healthcare professional immediately.
The real key to preventing the complications of hypothyroidism is to understand the disease’s symptoms and seek proper medical intervention. Hypothyroidism is manageable and it does not need to interfere with your life.
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By Dr. Alex Jimenez
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