Hypothyroidism

Hypothyroidism, also known as an under active thyroid, this is when the thyroid- gland does not produce enough thyroid hormones. There are large variations in clinical presentations and often no symptoms present at all, so the definition of hypothyroidism is pre-dominantly biochemical.  The thyroid is a small, butterfly-shaped gland in the front of your neck. Thyroid hormones control the way the body uses energy, so they affect nearly every organ in your body, even the way your heart beats.

Hypothyroidism can affect both sexes and all ages, but is most common in women over 60 yrs of age. The reasoning behind this is thought to be that thyroid disorders are often triggered by an autoimmune response. An autoimmune response is when the body's own immune system begins to attack its own cells.                                                                               The thyroid gland is responsible for regulation metabolism, low levels of thyroid hormone will cause your body to slow down, affecting everything from appetite to your body’s temperature. Symptoms can appear over time and can often be hard to diagnose.

If left untreated, hypothyroidism can cause serious problems to many of the major organs including the heart, bones, muscles, menstrual cycle, and fertility.

Symptoms of hypothyroidism can vary from person to person and may include:

  • Fatigue
  • Headaches
  • Numbness in fingers and hands
  • Menstrual problems
  • Lethargy
  • Weight gain
  • Constipation
  • Cold intolerance
  • Slow or irregular heartbeat
  • Hoarse voice
  • Dry scaly coarse hair
  • Confusion, depression, dementia

What cause hypothyroidism?

There are different kinds of hypothyroidism with different causes. Hashimoto thyroiditis is when antibodies in the blood mistakenly attach the thyroid gland and begin to destroy it, this is an auto-immune condition. Post therapeutic occurs when the treatment given for hyperthyroidism leaves the thyroid unable to produce enough thyroid hormone. Hypothyroidism with a goiter this can occur when you do not get enough iodine in your diet.

Diagnosis of hypothyroidism

A full medical history and a physical exam will be performed, as well as a variety of tests to confirm a diagnosis of hypothyroidism. Many symptoms of hypothyroidism are the same as those of other diseases, so diagnosis of hypothyroidism can’t be based on symptoms alone. Blood tests are used to measure the levels of thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) If it is high then a further test is completed alongside a test for T-4. If the results show the TSH is high and the T-4 is low then a diagnosis is made of hypothyroidism. Imaging can also be used to test, such as a scan of the thyroid, this can help diagnose and find the cause of hypothyroidism.

Treatment of hypothyroidism

Patients will be offered the opportunity to take daily hormone replacement medication, this medication aims to raise the levels of thyroxine. Hypothyroidism is a life long condition, so medication maybe required to be taken for the rest of your life. Medication doses are monitored through yearly blood tests and many people are able decrease their doses over time. There is a growing interest in a more natural approach to treatment, with more data available looking at adapting a clean diet, reducing stressors and exercise.  Some studies have looked at implementing changes to your lifestyle and diet to include: Selenium rich foods, sugar free and gluten free diet, vitamin B and probiotics. There is limited evidence of this and more studies are required.

Chiropractic care and how it can help

Chiropractic treatment can be a beneficial treatment, it aims to remove any nerve interference from the spinal column, thus allowing for better nerve communication throughout the body. The brain and the spinal cord also known as the central nervous system is responsible for how each system of your body functions. The body is able to function at it most optimal level when all the levels of communication are open.

References

Canaris GJ, Manowitz NR, Mayor G, Ridgway EC. The Colorado thyroid disease prevalence study. Arch Intern Med2000; 160: 526–34. [PubMed] [Google Scholar]

https://www.webmd.com/women/guide/understanding-thyroid-problems-basics

Åsvold BO, Vatten LJ, Bjøro T. Changes in the prevalence of hypothyroidism: the HUNT Study in Norway. Eur J Endocrinol 2013; 169:613–20. [PubMed] [Google Scholar]

Khandelwal D, Tandon N. Overt and subclinical hypothyroidism: who to treat and how. Drugs . 2012;72(1):17-33.