Hypothyroidism occurs when thyroxine (T4) levels drop so low that body processes begin to slow down. Hypothyroidism was first diagnosed in the late nineteenth century when doctors observed that surgical removal of the thyroid resulted in the swelling of the hands, face, feet, and tissues around the eyes. They named this syndrome myxedema and correctly concluded that it was the outcome of the absence of substances, thyroid hormones, normally produced by the thyroid gland. Hypothyroidism is usually progressive and irreversible if left untreated. Treatment, however, is nearly always completely successful and allows a patient to live a fully normal life.
Subclinical, or mild, hypothyroidism (mildly underactive thyroid), also called early-stage hypothyroidism, is a condition in which thyrotropin (TSH) levels have started to increase in response to an early decline in T4 levels in the thyroid. However, blood tests for T4 are still normal. The patient may have mild symptoms (usually slight fatigue) or none at all. Mildly underactive thyroid is very common (affecting about 10 million Americans) and is a topic of considerable debate among professionals because it is not clear how to manage this condition.
Mildly underactive thyroid does not progress to the full-blown disorder in most people. Each year, about 2 – 5% of people with subclinical thyroid go on to develop overt hypothyroidism. Other factors associated with a higher risk of developing clinical hypothyroidism include being an older woman (up to 20% of women over age 60 have subclinical hypothyroidism), having a goiter (enlarged thyroid gland) or thyroid antibodies, or harboring immune factors that suggest an autoimmune condition.
In early hypothyroidism, the level of thyroid hormones (T3 and T4) may be normal. Additionally, it may be necessary to also measure reverse T3. In those making antibodies to thyroperoxidase, thyroid function may appear normal because of compensation of the impaired glandular output. An abnormal serum TSH level, with normal T3 or T4 may be indicative of a subclinical thyroid dysfunction. Subclinical hypothyroidism is found in 16% of the population and is more prevalent in elderly women. Hypothyroidism and metabolic disorders like insulin resistance have an inverse relationship of which came first. Depends upon three different perspectives of thyroid comes first, pancreas (insulin resistance) comes first or look at lab results and treat what shows most predominantly.
Early Symptoms of Low Thyroid.
Early symptoms of hypothyroidism are subtle and, in older people, can be easily mistaken for symptoms of stress or aging. They include:
- Chronic fatigue
- Difficulty concentrating
- Sensitivity to cold
- Muscle and joint aches
- Weight gain, despite diminished appetite
- Dry skin
- Early puberty
- Menstrual irregularities (either heavier-than-normal or lighter-than-normal bleeding)
- Milky discharge from the breasts (galactorrhea)
Later Symptoms of Low Thyroid.
As free thyroxine levels fall over the following months, other symptoms may develop:
- Impaired mental activity, including problems with concentration and memory, particularly in the elderly.
- Depression. Some doctors believe that even mild thyroid failure may increase susceptibility to major depression.
- Muscle weakness, numbness, pain, and cramps. This can cause an unsteady gait. Muscle cramps are common, and carpal tunnel syndrome or symptoms similar to arthritis sometimes develop. In some cases, the arms and legs may feel numb.
- Numbness in the fingers.
- Hearing loss.
- Husky voice.
- Continuing weight gain and possible obesity, in spite of low appetite.
- Some people experience less sweating, and their skin becomes pale.
- Skin and hair changes. Skin becomes pale, rough, and dry. Patients may sweat less. Hair coarsens and even falls out. Nails become brittle.
- Snoring and obstructive sleep apnea (a condition in which in the soft palate in the throat collapses at intervals during sleep, thereby blocking the passage of air).
EFFECTS OF HYPOTHYROIDISM ON INFERTILITY AND PREGNANCY
In premenopausal women, early symptoms of hypothyroidism can interfere with fertility. It may be Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) associated with Insulin Resistance (Thyroid Overconversion) that sets the stage for this.
Women’s menstrual cycles are thought to be controlled by hormones. Which they are. However, the story doesn’t end there. Hormones influence the menstrual cycle by stimulating or suppressing an immune response to protect and prepare a woman’s body for the possibility of pregnancy and the baby and mother during the pregnancy. This constant monthly fluctuation of stimulation and suppression requires delicate control. Since the human body has the Window’s version of an operating system, it is very susceptible to hackers, glitches and overload causing the immune response to become unregulated leading to autoimmune conditions.
A history of miscarriage may be a sign of impending hypothyroidism. (A pregnant woman with hypothyroidism has a fourfold risk for miscarriage.) Studies suggest that even if thyroid levels are normal, women who have a history of miscarriages often have antithyroid antibodies during early pregnancy and are at risk for developing autoimmune thyroiditis over time.
Most women with overt hypothyroidism have menstrual cycle abnormalities and often fail to ovulate. Overt hypothyroidism in a pregnant woman can affect normal fetal development.
Women who have hypothyroidism near the time of delivery are in danger of developing high blood pressure and premature delivery. They are also prone to postpartum thyroiditis, which may be a contributor to postpartum depression.
Read More about the Six Patterns of Low Thyroid Function
Click on the links below:
- The only time to use Iodine or Selenium to restore normal Thyroid Function.
- Primary Hypothyroidism is a thyroid treatable condition.
- Suppressed Hypothalamus-Pituitary function from exogenous Melatonin, Somatostatin, Impaired Vasomotor control leading to Ischemia of the Blood-Brain-Barrier, Hypothalamus, Hippocampus and Pituitary.
- Hippocampus, hypothalamic and pituitary suppression of Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH) production results in Low Thyroid Symptoms.
- Cortisol imbalances causing downstream production of thyroid suppressing corticosteroid hormones measured by the Genova Complete Hormone Panel.
- Thyroid hormone suppressing corticosteroid hormones mimic Low Thyroid Symptoms.
- Thyroid Overconversion is directly linked to Insulin Resistance and Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS).
- Insulin resistance and PCOS symptoms mimic Low Thyroid Symptoms.
- Thyroid Hormone Binding Elevation is a pattern associated with elevation of Multiple Estrogens caused by impaired clearance due to Hepatic Portal Hypertension, and/or bacterial toxins preventing clearance of hormones from the body. Another factor to consider is alteration to the Hypothalamus-Pituitary-Gonad (HPG) Axis.
- Elevation in Estrogen mimic Low Thyroid Symptoms.
- Thyroid Resistance is caused by cellular inflammation occurring throughout the body. An possibility is failure to adequately monitor Thyroid Hormone Medications.
- Cellular Inflammation and improper Thyroid Hormone Medication dosage mimics Low Thyroid Symptoms.