The consequences of a thyroid deficiency can be many and varied. The thyroid gland, located just below the Adam's apple, is not a very large gland, but plays a very large role. Our body's energy level and metabolism are regulated by hormones that are produced by the thyroid gland. In some instances the thyroid may be overactive, leading to a condition known as hyperthyroidism. In other instances there may be nodules in the thyroid affecting its function. These are two common thyroid disorders. The third common disorder is an under active thyroid, a condition known as hypothyroidism or simply a thyroid deficiency.
Immune System Gone Wild - Our immune system is designed to help the body ward off infections, invasion of foreign bacteria or viruses. Occasionally the immune system can become a bit dysfunctional, and attack not only bad elements such as bacteria and viruses, but attack cells in certain body organs as well. One such instance is when the immune system mistakenly attacks the thyroid gland. This is the most common cause of a thyroid deficiency.
Early Signs - Since the thyroid control our level of energy and our metabolism, the effects of hypothyroidism or a thyroid deficiency are going to be a decrease in our energy level, experienced by a general feeling of fatigue, and a lack of energy. The effects on metabolism often will translate into weight gain. This in effect is a double-edged sword, in the sense that one not only begins to gain weight, but at the same time feels less inclined or able to do anything about it. A thyroid deficiency can also slow down the thought process. These symptoms may appear rather suddenly in some cases, but usually tend to come on slowly, and the affected person may not even realize that a problem exists for quite some time.
A Host Of Potential Symptoms - There are a number of other symptoms of thyroid deficiency which may better trigger a response to see what the problem might be, as we tend not to take a feeling of fatigue too seriously at first, or may attribute it to something completely unrelated to the thyroid function. Women may begin to suffer abnormal menstrual cycles where they have not done so before. Both men and women may begin to experience frequent aching muscles, and at times muscle cramps. Suddenly a person who is experiencing a thyroid deficiency cannot tolerate cold as easily as before. Increasing irritability, and bouts of depression can occur, as can bouts of memory loss. Other physical signs can include hair loss, the skin becoming rough and dry, and feelings of fatigue begin to be replaced by feelings of weakness. Any combination of these symptoms should at least alert one to visit a doctor, even if a thyroid problem is the last thing one would expect to have.
A Simple Diagnosis And Treatment - Diagnosis of hypothyroidism is actually quite simple, as is the treatment, so there is little point in attempting to live with the symptoms, which are more apt to get worse rather than get better. If one has hypothyroidism, the level of the thyroid stimulating hormone or TSH, in the blood serum will be elevated, which is easily detected and measured. Clearing up the condition is accomplished by taking thyroid hormone pills on a daily basis. The treatment may take several months, but the prognosis is usually excellent, although the patient may have to continue taking the hormone pills for several years, and even for life.
The thyroid deficiency condition is seldom serious, and rarely life-threatening if diagnosed and treated at an early stage. If allowed to go untreated for a long period however, damage to the pituitary gland and the thyroid itself could occur, and a much greater and more serious problem could result.