Many people today are being diagnosed with hypothyroidism but many people are unsure and commonly ask the question “what is hypothyroidism?”. This is a medical term for an under active thyroid or a condition where the thyroid is not creating adequate amounts of thyroid hormone. In the United States today, approximately 4.6% of the population over the age of 12 has been diagnosed with hypothyroidism. This condition is prevalent in today’s society and impacts millions of people.
Understanding the Thyroid Gland
The thyroid gland is a small organ which produces hormones. It has a butterfly shaped appearance and is located in the front of the neck below the larynx. There are two lobes of the thyroid and each lobe is located on both sides of the windpipe. A doctor who feels in the neck are is usually checking the size of the thyroid since this gland may be enlarged as a sign of hypothyroidism.
The thyroid plays an important role producing two thyroid hormones. These hormones are known as T3 and T4. Both are important for a variety of functions, but mainly affect the body’s metabolism. They also play an important role in brain development, breathing, body temperature, muscle strength, weight, and cholesterol levels.
Stimulating the Thyroid
The production of hormones is regulated by a compound known as thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH). The pituitary gland is responsible for producing TSH which then stimulates the thyroid to produce hormones. It also ensures that enough thyroid hormones are made to meet the needs of the body.
In the case of hypothyroidism, this is a condition which occurs when the thyroid gland does not produce enough of T3 or T4 hormones to meet the needs of the body. The causes and symptoms of this condition may vary from person to person. However, the underlying cause of hypothyroidism is either that the thyroid gland is not functioning correctly or it is not being stimulated properly by other organs in the body. In both cases, the result is the same. Either the thyroid does not produce any thyroid hormones, or it simply does not produce adequate amounts for the body to use.
In most cases, the signs and symptoms of hypothyroidism are noticeable within the first few months of this condition developing and can be pointed out to a doctor for a rapid diagnosis. While hypothyroidism is a serious condition that requires medical intervention, it can be controlled well with lifetime medication in most cases. Without taking medical steps, hypothyroidism can lead to weight gain, cognitive difficulty, damage to the heart and the nervous system, and changing cholesterol levels. Because living with hypothyroidism without treatment can be dangerous, it is important to seek out medical treatment and follow a doctor’s recommendations for life.
If being on medication for life is something that does not appeal to you, there are also many natural remedies and treatment options for you to try in the comfort of your own home.
Hypothyroidism is a disease which appears to be growing more prevalent in today’s society. It can appear in both men and women, but is easy to diagnose from a physical examination and a blood test. While the causes and symptoms of this condition may vary from person to person, hypothyroidism is a low or non-functioning thyroid gland.