One in 10 adults suffers from hypothyroidism

Though symptoms vary from person to person, adults with hypothyroidism may present with sensitivity to cold, tiredness or fatigue, weight gain, muscle and joint pain, irregular or heavy menstrual periods, dry skin/hair, hair loss, fertility problems, reduced heart rate and depression.
Representative Image
Representative Image

Hypothyroidism occurs when our thyroid gland produces inadequate quantity of thyroid hormones. The thyroid gland is a butterfly-shaped gland, present in front of the neck. These hormones control the way the body uses energy and hence, impact nearly every organ. Hence, the lack of these hormones slows the body down. Nearly 1 out of every 10 adults in India suffer from hypothyroidism.

Though symptoms vary from person to person, adults with hypothyroidism may present with sensitivity to cold, tiredness or fatigue, weight gain, muscle and joint pain, irregular or heavy menstrual periods, dry skin/hair, hair loss, fertility problems, reduced heart rate and depression.

Since these symptoms are non-specific, they are often ignored and hypothyroidism remains undiagnosed. Hypothyroidism affects more than one out of every 10 pregnant women. Age and sex are the two main non-modifiable risk factors for hypothyroidism. The older age group is more affected than the younger. Women are more likely to be affected by hypothyroidism than men. Hypothyroidism can also be inherited, so family members of affected persons need to check their hormone levels regularly.

Some causes of hypothyroidism include autoimmune disease, medical interventions such as surgery, radiation, etc. or a damaged pituitary gland (the pituitary produces the thyroid-stimulating hormone that regulates the release of thyroid hormones).

Hypothyroidism present since birth (congenital) is the leading cause of mental retardation in newborns and can be easily prevented. Hence, neonatal screening is extremely important.

In adolescents and teenagers, hypothyroidism causes a slowing of height and delayed pubertal development. In addition to the other common symptoms, teenage girls may suffer from irregular and/or heavy menstrual periods.

Depending upon the severity of the deficiency, the doctor can replace it with its synthetic form.

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