Recurrent Breast Cancer

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

     Hypothyroidism is a condition in which the thyroid gland fails to produce enough hormone. Women sixty and older have greater risk for this condition than men. Prior radioactive thyroid treatment, thyroid surgery, obesity, and heart disease are known risk factors. 

    Typical symptoms are fatigue, cold sensitivity, constipation, dry skin, and weight gain. Additional symptoms include hoarseness, muscle weakness, elevated blood cholesterol, depression, slowed mental function, and impaired memory. Hashimoto's thyroiditis, an inflammatory disorder, is the most common cause. 

    Untreated, severe hypothyroidism can lead to heart enlargement and heart failure. 

     People with an overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism) are treated with thyroid gland surgical removal and anti-thyroid medications. These procedures can lead to permanent hypothyroidism.  Long-term, untreated hypothyroidism could cause nerve pain, numbness, muscle weakness, and tingling of the arms and legs. 

    Myxedema is a life-threatening, long term condition due to undiagnosed hypothyroidism. Signs and symptoms include cold intolerance, drowsiness, and loss of consciousness.There is a blood test available to screen for hypothyroidism. It measures the TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) level. A low TSH indicates an underactive thyroid.  Hypothyroid people should have an annual TSH to monitor their thyroid function.  

    Daily thyroid prescription medicine (Levothroid, Synthroid) treatment restores hormone levels and alleviates symptoms. These medicines, in addition, lower blood cholesterol and may reverse weight gain. 

     Annual TSH blood testing guides medicine dose levels. Iron supplements, some antacids, and calcium supplements could decrease the stomach’s ability to absorb thyroid medicine. Hypothyroidism treatment is lifelong. A TSH level blood level is recommended annually. Determining the proper dose takes time.

   Questions or comments?  Contact Dr. Clem at