Hypothyroidism is a condition in which the thyroid gland is not producing enough TSH hormones. Varying symptoms of this disorder include fatigue, weight gain, cold intolerance, constipation, and depression. There are many risk factors that increase your chance of low TSH levels; some of them can be controlled and some cannot. Read on to find out more about what can put you at risk.
If you are a woman, you are 10 times more likely to develop hypothyroidism. This risk increases if you are more than 60 years old. It is also is greater if you are pregnant or have recently given birth. You and your baby both need greater amounts of iodine, a crucial nutrient for thyroid function, and this can easily lead to a deficiency during pregnancy.
Changes in your reproductive hormones can also change your thyroid hormones as well. If you are pregnant or have just given birth and are having the symptoms discussed above, consider testing with your ob-gyn to see if your thyroid is the problem.
Your past and present medical history can be factors for developing hypothyroidism. Autoimmune diseases are conditions in which your body's immune system attacks itself. Common autoimmune diseases include Type I Diabetes, lupus, pernicious anemia and rheumatoid arthritis. If you already have one of these conditions or have a family history of them, make sure that testing for thyroid hormone levels is part of your treatment plan.
If you have been treated for hyperthyroidism with radioactive iodine therapy or a thyroidectomy, a surgery in which part or all of the thyroid is removed, then you are also at risk. Testing should be done to find out if your thyroid levels are normal, and if they are not, your doctor can prescribe a medication like Synthroid, which is an artificial thyroid hormone taken in pill form.
There are some risk factors you can control to help prevent this condition. If you smoke, you are at a much greater risk for hypothyroidism. This risk can be reduced with smoking cessation. Talk to your doctor about aids to quit smoking, such as nicotine patches, gum, or the prescription drug Chantix. You can also find out about smoking cessation support groups in your area.
Another controllable risk factor is an eating disorder, such as bulimia or anorexia. Doctors believe that hypothyroidism is the body's response to the malnutrition that occurs as a result of these disorders. If the eating disorder can be treated, the thyroid will resume normal function. If you suffer from an eating disorder, there are inpatient and outpatient programs to help you through overcome your disorder, so talk to your doctor about what kind of treatment would be best for you.