Can Low Thyroid Cause Other Health Problems

Can Low Thyroid Cause Other Health Problems

Can Low Thyroid Cause Other Health Problems?

Low thyroid can cause erectile dysfunction, lack of ovulation, pregnancy complications, goiters, heart disease, depression, and myxedema.

Hypothyroidism, also called underactive thyroid, causes low levels of thyroid hormone in your body. The thyroid gland releases thyroid hormone to control metabolism, working with the pituitary gland to release the proper amount.

When the gland releases too little thyroid hormone, it’s called hypothyroidism. Hyperthyroidism occurs when it releases too much.

Symptoms of hypothyroidism

The main symptoms are:

  • Tiredness and weakness
  • Feeling cold
  • Constipation
  • Unexpected weight gain
  • High cholesterol
  • Changes to menstrual cycle
  • Numbness in extremities
  • Low libido
  • Dry skin and hair
  • Lower voice
  • Feeling "foggy"

The symptoms of an underactive thyroid develop gradually and may take months or years before they become noticeable enough for medical attention.

What other health problems does hypothyroidism cause?

In some cases, hypothyroidism can cause other health issues, but treating hypothyroidism can resolve these symptoms.

Hypothyroidism can cause problems with erections. It’s caused by issues with the pituitary gland, resulting in lower testosterone levels. Treating the low hormone levels can improve erectile dysfunction.

Some people with hypothyroidism do not ovulate or ovulate irregularly, which can affect fertility.

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If pregnant individuals have untreated hypothyroidism, it can lead to complications. Insufficient thyroid hormones can affect the baby’s brain development, causing delays. There is also an increased risk of miscarriages and premature labor.

Thyroid deficiency can cause the pituitary gland to send excess thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH), resulting in the growth of a goiter. Goiters can cause difficulties swallowing or breathing if they are large enough.

Increased cholesterol levels due to hypothyroidism can contribute to heart disease or heart failure.

Depression or low mood is a symptom of an underactive thyroid. Depression may worsen over time but is usually not the only symptom.

Myxedema is a severe condition that typically occurs in people with undiagnosed hypothyroidism. It can lead to lower body temperature, mental confusion, and even a coma. To avoid myxedema, it’s important to check thyroid hormone levels if a thyroid issue is suspected.

What causes hypothyroidism?

Potential causes of an underactive thyroid include:

Hashimoto’s disease, a genetic condition that causes the immune system to attack the thyroid gland, resulting in reduced thyroid hormone production.

Thyroid inflammation can initially cause excessive thyroid hormone release followed by insufficient hormone production.

Iodine deficiency, as the body needs iodine to create thyroid hormone.

Treatments for overactive thyroid, such as radiation therapy or removal of the thyroid, may require synthetic thyroid hormone to prevent hypothyroidism symptoms.

Treatments for an underactive thyroid

Hypothyroidism is often treated with a synthetic version of the thyroid hormone, such as levothyroxine. This medication is usually required for life. With proper medication, symptoms and complications may greatly reduce or disappear.

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It’s important to have regular follow-up appointments with the doctor when taking medication for an underactive thyroid. The dosage may change over time, and periodic hormone level checks ensure the correct dosage.

Can you have thyroid cancer with normal blood tests?

Thyroid cancer is the abnormal growth and multiplication of thyroid gland cells. It affects the body’s function, and the abnormal growth can be cancerous or benign. Normal blood tests do not accurately diagnose thyroid cancer, as thyroid function tests usually appear normal.

Tests to diagnose thyroid cancer include tumor markers, radioiodine scan, and imaging scans (MRI, CT, and PET). Biopsy procedures can also detect cancer cells or the spread to lymph nodes.

Understanding the anatomy and function of the thyroid gland

The thyroid is a small, butterfly-shaped gland at the base of the front neck, below the Adam’s apple.

The thyroid gland contains two types of cells: follicular cells, responsible for thyroid hormone production, and C cells, which produce calcitonin involved in calcium metabolism.

What causes thyroid cancer?

Thyroid cancer is a rare type that affects the thyroid gland. It can occur at any age, but it’s more common after 30 years and increases in aggressiveness with age. Women are more likely to develop it. The main cause is DNA changes in thyroid cells that make them grow uncontrollably and form a lump. Other risk factors include family history, radiation exposure, certain bowel conditions, hormonal imbalances, iodine deficiency, and exposure to radioactive fallout.

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Sources: American Thyroid Association, Cleveland Clinic, Clinical Thyroidology for the Public, Mayo Clinic, National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, NHS.

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