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Hypothyroidism | Under-Active Thyroid | What All Patients Need to Know

if you or someone you know has been

diagnosed with an underactive thyroid

this video is for you my name is dr hart

pinto i'm a doctor in the uk and i would

like to talk to you about underactive

thyroid

or as doctors call it hyperthyroidism

we will look at what is an underactive

thyroid and what causes it

are there any risk factors for getting

an underactive thyroid

what are the symptoms of hypothyroidism

and how is it diagnosed

how will your underactive thyroid be

treated and what are the problems if my

underactive thyroid isn't treated

so what is an underactive thyroid and

what causes it

your thyroid gland is a small

butterfly-shaped gland that lives in the

neck

just in front of your windpipe the main

function is to help regulate your body's

metabolism

it does this by releasing two hormones

try eodothione

t3 and thyroxine t4

in some people the levels of these

hormones are too low

this is something that can happen at any

age babies are even tested at five days

old

and this forms part of the blood spot

tests that community midwives perform

babies who are found to have low thyroid

levels from birth are given the name

congenital hypothyroidism

an underactive thyroid can be caused by

chronic autoimmune thyroiditis

this is a condition where the body's own

immune system which normally combats

infection

attacks the thyroid gland this damages

the thyroid

and as a result it cannot produce enough

of the thyroid hormones

the most common form of this is known as

hashimoto's thyroiditis

this can sometimes run in families and

may be linked to other autoimmune

conditions

it can also occur post-treatment for

hyperthyroidism

where people have received radioactive

iodine treatment

or even after surgical removal

a poor dietary intake of iodine can be a

rare cause of underactive thyroid

in order for the thyroid to make

effective levels of thyroxine

it requires iodine a special gland in

your brain also plays an important role

in helping regulate your thyroid

function this is called a pituitary

gland

it secretes a hormone called tsh thyroid

stimulating hormone

in patients with tumors of this gland

levels of tsh can fall

leading to a reduction in the amount of

thyroxine the thyroid makes

this cause of hypothyroidism is very

rare

certain medications can also have a

negative effect on thyroid function

including amiodarone which is a

medication used to treat heart

arrhythmias

lithium a mood stabilizer interferons

which are medication used to treat

viral inflammation of the liver and some

types of cancers

are there any risk factors for getting

an underactive thyroid

underactive thyroid is relatively common

it is more commonly found in women and

those over the age of 60 years

as mentioned before this condition can

sometimes run in families

and may also be present in individuals

with other autoimmune conditions such as

type 1 diabetes

so what are the symptoms you might

experience if you're hypothyroid

everyone's symptoms are different but

many people will complain of feeling

tired all the time

experiencing persisting low mood or poor

memory

and inability to tolerate the cold they

may notice that they have cold hands

some people may complain also of pain

numbness or pins and needles in the

hands and the fingers

this may indicate the development of a

condition called carpal tunnel syndrome

you may notice that your skin becomes

dry your

hair becomes brittle and also your nails

you may find that you've gained weight

have a poor sex drive

or develop constipation

other patients may complain of muscle

aching cramping or weakness

you may also notice that your voice

changes and may become hoarse

and some women may also notice a change

in their periods

becoming irregular or heavier

so how is it diagnosed if your doctor

suspects that you have an underactive

thyroid

they will organize for a blood test to

look at the levels of thyroxine

produced by the thyroid plus the levels

of tsh

that's the thyroid stimulating hormone

released from the special gland in your

brain

a diagnosis of hypothyroidism is

confirmed by low levels of thyroxine

and increased levels of the stimulating

hormone tsh

this is because your thyroid fails to

produce enough thyroxine

the thyroid hormone and the special

pituitary gland in your brain

tries to stimulate the thyroid to

produce more

much like the driver of a car running

out of petrol

he presses harder on the accelerator but

if there's no petrol

the car's not going to go any faster

equally the thyroid gland if it's not

working effectively

is not going to respond to the

stimulating hormones tsh

in some patients thyroxine levels may be

normal

but the tsh is still raised this can

indicate that there is a developing

underactive thyroid if an autoimmune

cause is suspected for your underactive

thyroid

your doctor may look for the presence of

a thyroid antibody

where present this indicates that the

immune system has attacked the thyroid

so how will your underactive thyroid be

treated if your doctor diagnoses an

underactive thyroid

they will prescribe you a synthetic

thyroxine hormone

this is called levothyroxine if you wish

to learn more about

liver thyroxine why not watch dr

jumbocus's video

here she explains whether this

medication is suitable for you

how you should take this medication and

the common side effects

your doctor will also regularly monitor

your thyroid function after starting

your medication

this is in the form of a blood test from

this your doctor can adjust the dose of

your levothyroxine to a level that works

for you

getting your dosing right can sometimes

be tricky and sometimes requires a

number of adjustments to your dosing

it can also take several weeks before

you start feeling the benefit from the

medication

don't forget everybody is different

if you're trying to get pregnant or

think you might be pregnant

make sure you talk to your regular

doctor as you may need

closer monitoring and dose adjustments

if you have an underactive thyroid and

are requiring liver thyroxine

it's likely you will need to take this

medication lifelong

so what happens if my underactive

thyroid isn't treated

if your underactive thyroid is not being

treated it places you at risk of

developing an increased

risk of heart disease this is because

patients with low thyroxine levels

can develop high levels of bad

cholesterol ldl

which places you at increased risk for

heart attacks and strokes

some patients may also complain of a

swelling in the neck overstimulation of

the underactive thyroid by the tsh

hormone produced by the pituitary gland

in your brain

causes the thyroid to gradually increase

in size

if it becomes large enough it may be

visible and can cause pressure on your

wind and food pipes in the neck

causing difficulty in breathing and

swallowing

the nerves which supply your limbs may

be damaged resulting in weakness

numbness and pins and needles

low thyroxine levels as mentioned above

can affect your mood and your cognition

and this can have a knock-on effect of

causing depression or early dementia

you may find that your fertility is also

affected making it more difficult to

become pregnant

amongst expecting mothers with an

underactive thyroid

there is also an increase in babies with

birth defects

in the worst case scenario you're at

risk of developing a condition called

myxodemocoma

which can ultimately lead to death

thank you for watching this video we

hope you found this information useful

if you have enjoyed it why not subscribe

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of course this video does not contain

tailored medical advice and is intended

for informational purposes only

please do not consider this as a

substitute for professional medical

advice

diagnosis or treatment don't ignore

professional medical advice in seeking

treatment because of something you've

heard here

if you believe you may have a medical

emergency immediately call your doctor

or ambulance service

thank you for watching and see you next

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