At least 30% of the Italian population has some thyroid problems, and unfortunately, it is often not detected because it is not always easy to recognize its symptoms. Women suffer up to 5-6 times more thyroid diseases than men, although there are also several. Children can be affected by this problem and create a lot of damage to growth if it is not detected.
VITAL FUNCTION OF THE THYROID
The function of thyroid hormones is to regulate metabolic processes, that is, the production and use of energy within individual cells and consequently in the entire organism. In the early part of life, this gland also has a function of control overgrowth as it promotes tissue growth and physical and mental development. From this, we easily deduce the extreme importance for our health and for the balance of the main functions of our organism.
The pathologies that affect the thyroid are mainly hypothyroidism (i.e. reduced thyroid activity), hyperthyroidism (an increased thyroid activity), the formation of nodules, and finally thyroid tumors. Among these, by far the most common is hypothyroidism, which according to official statistics would affect about 5% of the population, while other authors (including myself) are convinced that, in one way or another, well over 50% of the population.
WHY IS HYPOTHYROIDISM SUCH A DANGEROUS DISEASE?
Hypothyroidism is a disease that not only creates the more or less annoying symptoms that I list below but can drastically shorten our outlook on life by increasing the chance of being affected by degenerative diseases such as cancer or cardiovascular disease. Just as it can prevent conception or carrying on a pregnancy. I mean, make our lives hell. And it is even more dangerous precisely because too often it is not properly diagnosed and therefore treated properly, and even when it is recognized, the recommended therapy is not always the best.
MOST COMMON SYMPTOMS OF HYPOTHYROIDISM
- Low body temperature (<36.4C)
- Chronic fatigue and weakness
- Coldness, intolerance to cold
- Weight gain, obesity
- Pale, dry skin
- Reduced sweating
- Cold and humid extremities (slimy)
- Recurring infections especially of the airways (nose, throat, ears, bronchi)
- Immune weakness: frequent infections, candida
- Fragile, soft, yellowish, streaked or furrowed nails, pale nail bed
- Fragile, thin, dry and dull hair, hair loss, especially on the front, nape, and time zones.
- Hypoglycemia (most common symptoms: headache, chills, sweating, tachycardia, fatigue, fainting, anxiety until panic attacks, etc.)
- Reduced appetite, up to anorexia, or increased appetite.
- Swelling and pallor of mucous membranes
- Thick lips
- The reddish complexion on the cheeks
- Red eyes, irritated, dry
- A hoarse and deep voice
- Indolence, apathy, laziness, listlessness
- Sleepiness, lethargy
- Hypotonia (reduced muscle tone)
- Carotenemia (yellowish coloration of the palm and feet due to the liver’s inability to convert beta-carotene into vitamin A) (in severe cases)
- Depression, melancholy mood
- Decreased memory and mental activity
- Mental fatigue
- Difficulty concentrating
- Dizziness and head-turning
- Reducing or disappearing sexual desire
- Disorders and alterations of the menstrual cycle and Premenstrual Syndrome
- Infertility, inability to get pregnant
- Headache and migraine
- Ankle swelling
- Hypotension (low blood pressure)
- Slow wrist (bradycardia) and springs
- Weak heart tones
- Dermatitis, eczema, psoriasis, pimples, acne
- Joint and muscle pains
- Muscle weakness
- Muscle cramps
BARNES TEST TO DETECT HYPOTHYROIDISM
It is a simple but effective” baseline temperature measurement of Barnes “, which signals any thyroid dysfunction, and that you do in your own home in the morning before getting up; this test has its own history that begins in the early 20th century, as reported in a 1915 publication by the Belgian endocrinologist Dr. Eugene Hertoghe:
This test, by measuring the body temperature of the patient at rest, that is, in “basal” conditions, allows us to understand if this is in a hypometabolic, normal or hypermetabolic state. Since it is the thyroid gland that, like the thermostat of a boiler, regulates how much our body consumes, that is, burns calories, at low body temperature will correspond to reduced metabolic activity and therefore a state of probable hypothyroidism.
This test was developed by American endocrinologist Dr. Broda Barnes, who devoted fifty years of his life to the study of the thyroid and the care of hypothyroid patients. After comparing it with the basal metabolism test and finding its validity, he published it in the 1940s in two important medical journals(JAMA and Lancet). It is based on the fact that a decrease in body temperature is a very frequent symptom in the case of hypothyroidism, a fact already noted in the first myxedema report of 1888.
Before publishing it, Barnes tested the body temperature of more than 2,000 people, both oral, and rectal, and armpit, and concluded that the armpit was the most reliable for this purpose as it was less affected by any inflammatory processes of the high respiratory tract or in case of chronic sinusitis.
The test should be carried out after a regular night’s sleep without food, agitation, or exercise for 12 hours. In addition, the patient should not be overly covered in bed because the heat of the blankets could distort the result.
The thermometer to use, preferably the classic mercury or at least the alcohol glass thermometer, should be unloaded in the evening and rested on the bedside table (in the morning no abrupt movement should be made before the measurement, so do not even unload the thermometer). Electronic thermometers are less suitable for this type of test.
Upon awakening, before doing anything, without getting up or moving too much you take the thermometer from the bedside table and place it in the armpit cable. After at least five minutes you read the temperature and write it down on a sheet.
The test should be repeated for at least 3 consecutive days.
Men, children, and menopausal women can take the test on any day, while women of childbearing age (since their temperature varies during the monthly menstrual cycle) should take the test on the second, third and fourth day after the onset of menstruation.
The normal values of the measured temperature should be between 36.5 degrees Celsius and 36.8 degrees Celsius. Lower values are suggestive of hypothyroidism, and the lower these values are, the more this possibility is strengthened. It is not uncommon to see patients with baseline temperatures of up to 35.5 degrees Celsius – 35.8 degrees Celsius, which is one degree Celsius less than normal.
is hypothyroidism hereditary?
For most thyroid diseases we can talk about family predisposition (autoimmunity). Some diseases (thyroid medullary carcinoma, thyroid hormone resistance syndrome, Pendred syndrome…) are heritable
can hypothyroidism cause high blood pressure
When we talk about the relationship between thyroid and hypertension we refer, as written above, to secondary hypertension. It could, in fact, be caused by thyroid dysfunctions. For example hyperthyroidisms, but also the opposite condition is hypothyroidism.
Having totally different causes, from the first suspicion of hypertension, specific tests should be performed to ensure that you make a correct diagnosis.
Not carrying out all the necessary investigations to identify possible causes could expose you to the risk of taking the drugs for tens of years, without having cured the disease that could really be responsible for hypertension.
For example, high blood pressure could be triggered by a thyroid problem.
Once it is established that it is secondary hypertension due to an alteration of the thyroid, it will be necessary to act on the causes that caused thyroid disease.
does hypothyroidism cause hair loss
Fragile and dry hair, which weakens and falls easily, is a common symptom of thyroid diseases.
The hair follicles are particularly sensitive to the health of the body and tend to slow down their activity in the presence of important psychophysical stresses. In this way, more energy resources can be allocated to support vital functions. It is not surprising, therefore, that the increased hair loss is common in the presence of nutritional deficits, infections, subject to surgery, burns, hormonal variations, and various diseases, including thyroid.
The patient can complain of a poor state of health of his hair both in the presence of hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism. In addition to the possible increase in fall, which generally happens in tufts, the hair can become brittle, smooth, and opaque.
Although in the vast majority of people hair loss is an almost physiological event (see androgenetic alopecia), it should not be underestimated the hypothesis of underlying thyroid disease, especially in the presence of familiarity for this genus of disorders and female sex. Women are in fact more protected from hair loss than men, which is why this symptom should be viewed with greater concern.
Treatment of thyroid pathologies very often stops hair loss, although it takes a few months to appreciate some aesthetic improvement. However, some drugs used in the treatment of such diseases – such as eutirox (levothyroxine) – can promote hair loss, especially if taken in inappropriate quantities. For this reason, if once the right therapeutic dose is identified the problem persists, it is necessary to make it known to the doctor and undergo a dermatological examination to exclude other predisposing conditions.
In this case, you will need to clearly state your condition and the medications you take, so that any therapy to stop hair loss does not interfere with the medicines used to treat thyroid disorder. The possible options are different: supplements to fill any deficiencies, lotions for topical use, caffeine shampoos, specific drugs such as minoxidil and finasteride, hair auto plant, and the unwelcome use of hairpieces.
Read More :
does hypothyroidism cause weight gain
Thyroid function has a very important influence on metabolism, so its dysfunction can have consequences on body weight. Hypothyroidism causes a decrease in basal metabolism that can cause weight gain, both for the accumulation of fatty tissues and for the increased tendency to store liquids.
It is usually a slow process: hypothyroidism rarely appears suddenly and, at the initial stage, may not result in weight gain that will alert us.
Weight gain can, however, also occur in a person who suffers from hyperthyroidism and who therefore has an increase in his energy consumption: it happens because excess thyroid hormones increase the sense of hunger. This explains why some patients, despite the presence of hyperthyroidism, cannot lose weight.
Thyroid dysfunction, especially hypothyroidism but sometimes even hyperthyroidism, can, therefore, result in weight gain or difficulty losing weight in those who are following a diet. Usually, however, once the dysfunction is diagnosed and adequate care is set, within 6 months the thyroid resumes its proper functioning, hormones fall back into the norm and even the weight begins to drop.
Overweight: how to tell if it is the fault of hypothyroidism?
Those who are overweight may be as hypothyroid as they may not be, and only an endocrinologist can understand this.
Not necessarily a high value of the hormone TSH should suggest hypothyroidism: in fact, this value can be high even in those who are overweight. In addition, overweight, or difficulty losing weight, as well as established hypothyroidism could be linked to an early stage of thyroid dysfunction, so-called subclinical hypothyroidism: this is why it is important that a global analysis of thyroid function is made, to make a correct diagnosis and set up adequate therapy. In the presence of hypothyroidism that caused weight gain, in fact, if the alteration is not corrected it will become almost impossible to lose weight.
In general, thyroid disorders can have harmful effects on the heart, resulting in various types of heart problems (high blood pressure and alterations in heart rhythm).
That is why the opinion of an endocrinologist is essential when we realize that we have high values due to hyperthyroidism.
Hypertension, contrary to what one tends to believe, is not the sole subject of the cardiologist. Today, in fact, the tendency is to work as a team.
In the case of secondary hypertension, the opinion of the endocrinologist may also be useful. In the case of essential hypertension (the one that affects 90% of hypertensive hypertensive), it is also important the opinion of the Medical Specialist in Hygiene and Preventive Medicine who deals in a specialized way of prevention and correction of lifestyle.