Hypothyroidism occurs when the thyroid gland does not produce enough of the thyroid hormone. This deficiency causes different symptoms such as fatigue, sensitivity to cold, constipation or muscle weakness. Hypothyroidism is treated by administering the thyroid hormone in the form of medication.
The thyroid, which lies under the larynx, produces important hormones for the metabolism of the body. The thyroid needs iodine for this. Iodine deficiency used to be the number one cause of hypothyroidism in the past. However, iodine deficiency has not been a significant problem for some time now due to the enrichment of table salt with iodine. Nowadays, chronic thyroiditis, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, is most frequently responsible for hypothyroidism. In rare cases, hypothyroidism can also be genetic. Therefore, the thyroid hormone is assessed in all newborns to detect any deficiency in good time.
Hyperthyroidism usually develops slowly, over years. As a result of the increasing deficiency in thyroid hormones, there are many symptoms over time. Sensitivity to cold, tiredness, increased need for sleep, difficulty concentrating, muscle weakness, breakable hair and nails, constipation and doughy swelling on the arms, legs and face are typical symptoms of hypothyroidism. It can also upset the menstrual cycle in women.
Hypothyroidism is diagnosed by measuring the level of the thyroid hormone in the blood. Further examinations such as an ultrasound, contrast agent x-ray scintigraphic scan) and a biopsy (tissue sample) of the thyroid are carried out to determine the cause.
Hypothyroidism is treated by administering the thyroid hormone in the form of medication, which must taken regularly and often for life.