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Hypothyroidism is a medical condition that describes the underproduction of hormones in the thyroid gland. Located in the front of the neck, the thyroid gland regulates various metabolic processes in the body. The hormones, thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3), control the rate at which the body uses energy, affecting various functions such as heart rate, body temperature, and metabolism.
Hypothyroidism can be cause by various factors. It’s usually brought on by other conditions or diseases in the body, such as Hashimoto’s disease, thyroid surgery, radiation exposure, and certain medications. Hypothyroidism can affect people of any age and gender.
Diagnosing Hypothyroidism can sometimes be difficult, as the symptoms can often be mistaken for other medical conditions.
The symptoms of Hypothyroidism include:
Not everyone with Hypothyroidism will display all these symptoms, and the severity of them can vary from person to person. It’s important to consult a medical professional as soon as possible, so they can diagnose what the condition is.
Hypothyroidism itself is not typically considered life-threatening in most cases, especially when the condition is properly diagnosed and treated. Untreated or poorly managed Hypothyroidism can lead to serious health complications that can be life-threatening. Potentially life-threatening conditions include heart issues and Myxedema coma, where the body suffers extreme weakness mental confusion and a drop in blood pressure, heart rate and body temperature.
It’s important to speak to a medical professional as soon as possible, as if your condition is left untreated, you could be at greater risk of developing a more serious health condition.
Mild Hypothyroidism can get better on its own with no treatment, but it’s not common, and could worsen if left untreated. It’s always advised to consult your GP or pharmacist, so they can prescribe you the correct medication that will treat condition, relieving the symptoms. You can use e-Surgery’s ‘ask-a-pharmacist‘ service to receive free professional medical advice.
Some Hypothyroidism medication can cause weight gain, but it’s usually minimal. In some cases, the weight gain can be substantial. This can be down to a undertreatment of the medication. If this occurs you should consult the medical professional who prescribed the medication to you, as they might want to adjust the medication or dosage. You can avoid weight gain by increasing exercise levels and eating a healthy diet. There are also treatment options available to help aid in fat loss.
Side effects from Thyroid disorders like Hypothyroidism can sometimes lead to high blood pressure, but it’s rare. The link between them is down to multiple factors, including increased fluid retention in the body, reduced heartrate and cardiac output, changes in cholesterol and stress on the immune system. High blood pressure can be treated with medication prescribed by e-Surgery.
How long you should take medication for Hypothyroidism will depend on multiple factors, including the severity of the condition and other medical conditions you may have. People who begin taking the medication will most likely take it for the rest of their lives. Stopping the medication should only be done with a medical professional’s guidance, as coming off medication too early could put you at risk of the symptoms worsening.
Most Hypothyroidism medication begins working in the body as soon as it is taken, however can take days or even weeks for the symptoms to begin reducing, which is often the frustrating part for most people. Your GP or pharmacist might need to make amendments to your dosage if the medication isn’t as effective as first thought, so you should inform them if your symptoms stay the same or worsen after taking the medication you’ve been prescribed.
Yes, dizziness is one of the main side effects of Hypothyroidism. It is closely associated with other side effects from the underproduction on thyroid hormones. Other side effects are a slow heartrate, heart palpitations and vertigo, which all contribute to the feelings of dizziness. Symptoms of Hypothyroidism can be relieved with medication, prescribed by a doctor or pharmacist.
Hypothyroid medication is safe to take for extended periods of time, usually life-long. You should only come off or reduce your medication intake if you have consulted with a GP or pharmacist beforehand so they can advise you when you are ok to do so. Coming off any medication can affect your health, so being correctly informed by a professional will limit the risks of the condition coming back or getting worse.
Yes, the most common Hypothyroidism medication that’s prescribed is usually safe to take during pregnancy, or when trying for a baby. Some medication may not be suitable though, so you should always consult a medical professional when taking any form of medication while pregnant, as doing so when uninformed could harm the baby. Your doctor may want to prescribe an alternative medication if they are aware of your situation or that you are planning on becoming pregnant in the near future.
Drinking alcohol while taking Hypothyroidism medication will not affect how the medication works. Consuming alcohol can have negative effects on your health, that could potentially worsen any of the side-effects you may have from taking Hypothyroidism medication, such as headaches, slow heart rate or heart palpitations. If you are going to drink, we advise drinking responsibly and being cautious of the medication you’re on and the condition you have.
In severe or lengthy cases of Hypothyroidism, hair loss can sometime occur. This is due to the stress of the condition on the body, which results in the hair follicles going into resting, temporarily stalling hair growth. This can also make the hair sparce and thinning across the scalp. After the Hypothyroidism treatment is complete and the condition is settled, your hair should begin to grow back. If it isn’t, or is not growing effectively, you should consult your GP or pharmacist as there are treatment options available to support hair growth.
For women, suffering with Hypothyroidism can disrupt the menstrual cycle, as well as affect hormone regulation in the body, often making it harder to conceive. Although it’s not certain, you are at greater risk of this happening or another condition developing if you leave Hypothyroidism untreated. You should consult your GP or pharmacist as soon as you experience symptoms of Hypothyroidism, as the longer you leave it untreated the more likely you are to disrupt your ability to conceive.
Hypothyroid medication can cause liver injury, but the likelihood of this occurring is rare. If you have a liver condition you should inform your healthcare provider as they may want to alter your prescription or dosage if they feel you may be at greater risk of making your condition worse.
Common Hypothyroidism medication can be known to affect blood sugar levels, often increasing them. You should inform your GP or pharmacist if you suffer with diabetes as taking the medication could have implications on your health. Your prescriber may want to offer you an alternative medication that does not affect your blood sugar levels, taking into account both conditions you suffer with. If you are taking Hypothyroidism medication, you may want to reduce the number of sugary foods you consume as you could increase your chances of developing diabetes.
No, common Hypothyroidism medication does not increase or decrease Oestrogen levels in the body. The treatment will increase thyroid hormones in the body, so it’s likely that you will experience side effects that can be like that of an increase of oestrogen in the body. If you are concerned about your Oestrogen levels, you should consult your healthcare provider.
Acid reflux is not commonly linked to the use of Hypothyroid medication, but it cannot be ruled out. There is currently no proven link between common Hypothyroidism medications and acid reflux. You should consult your GP or pharmacist if you are concerned about the side effects of the medication.
While the side effects of taking Hypothyroidism medication can vary, they are usually caused by taking too much of the medication. If you are experiencing diarrhoea after taking Hypothyroidism medication, it should pass within a few days. If you continue to experience diarrhoea, consult your prescriber as they may be able to change the medication or dosage to limit the side effects. It could also be a sign of another undiagnosed condition, so your GP may want to assess your symptoms.