The endocrine system is responsible for a few different diseases, one of which is hypothyroidism. The overwhelming majority of people suffering from it are women, but, even though many of us believe it only affects them, it can be diagnosed in men too.
The term “hypothyroidism” is not hard to interpret. It describes the condition in which the patient’s thyroid gland does not produce sufficient levels of the thyroid hormone.
There are three types of hypothyroidism, depending on the organ that causes it:
1) Primary hypothyroidism.
The thyroid gland is the reason behind the appearance of the first type. The most common types of primary hypothyroidism are Hashimoto hypothyroidism (which is an autoimmune disease) and malfunction or destruction of the thyroid gland due to exposition to radioactivity.
2) Secondary hypothyroidism.
In this case, the pituitary gland causes the condition since it does not produce enough TSH, a hormone that is responsible for “signaling” the thyroid to produce the thyroid hormone. There are questions about this type that still remain unanswered, however, the usual cause is a problem in the pituitary gland that may have been caused by an operation, a tumor or radiation. Secondary hypothyroidism is rare, representing less than 10% of the total cases.
3) Tertiary hypothyroidism.
This type is linked to the previous two since it occurs when the hypothalamus of the brain does not produce sufficient levels of TRH (thyrotropin-releasing hormone) which in turn causes the pituitary gland to produce TSH. Tertiary hypothyroidism is also very rare, having a percentage of less than 5% of the total documented cases.
There are several symptoms that appear when a person is suffering from hypothyroidism. Some of them are:
– Hypersensitivity to cold
– Sudden increase of body weight
– Thin and fragile nails
– Frequent muscle cramps and joint pain
– Increased cholesterol levels
– Dry skin and feeling of itching.
Hypothyroidism diagnosis is based on checking the TSH and T4 hormone levels in the person’s blood. Additional exams and measurements may be required since increased TSH and T4 levels are also linked to conditions different from hypothyroidism.
Unfortunately, scientists have not yet discovered a cure for this disease. The best option for the patients is to take hormone supplements. Levothyroxine is the one currently being used to reduce the effects of the condition.
Science is constantly offering hope to patients of various diseases by discovering new ways to battle them efficiently. We can definitely hope that hypothyroidism will soon be defeated by modern medicine, becoming yet another disease that is no longer a threat to anyone of us.