Thyroid problems are a common issue among women. However, many seem to neglect it as it sometimes does not show major symptoms that cause pain. It is a mistake to ignore it because, in the long run, it will have adverse effects on your body.
Did you ever get a health report and wonder whether or not it was worth consulting a doctor? We know how dangerous that sounds, but sadly that is the case for a majority of diseases. Often, symptoms like uncontrolled weight gain, insomnia, and mood swings are swept under the carpet or self-medicated with aspirin! Now let’s talk about diseases like hypothyroidism with relatively common signs like anxiety, lethargy, and hair loss. What happens if such a disease is not treated at the earliest? We at Stylecraze made a list of points that will help you understand the importance of early diagnosis of hypothyroidism and why it is the last disease that should go untreated.
1. It Affects Your Physical And Mental Health
Hypothyroidism affects both your brain and your body. It can cause your mind to slow down processing, reduce focus and induce amnesia (1). You may experience more emotional mood swings and irritability. People who have hypothyroidism are more likely to suffer from depression and anxiety. If you feel attacked by too many hormonal changes, getting a T4 test and the TSH test done will help you determine if your thyroid levels are as they should be.
2. It Can Develop Into A Goiter
A thyroid gland that is not functioning correctly could grow larger and take the form of a goiter. Goiters are painless lumps that are located in the front of your neck (2). They can trigger a cough or make your voice sound hoarse. In unattended cases, it can affect your breath and swallowing food comfortably. It might not require surgical treatment if the goiter’s size isn’t too big and does not cause any symptoms. But if the size is too large, it may need surgery to get rid of it.
3. Increases Risk Of Heart Disease
If your thyroid gland is not functioning correctly, it can increase the chance of cardiac disease. The thyroid causes your heart to run slower and be less efficient gradually. This increases the chances of developing coronary artery disease and congestive heart defects. If you have a blockage in your heart and arteries, getting your thyroid checked is an utmost priority.
4. Causes Infertility
Women’s hormones can be easily affected by hypothyroidism. It can make your menstrual cycle irregular, which means that you will not be able to keep track of your ovulation (3). Also, it may stop you from ovulating altogether. Women with hypothyroidism who do get pregnant are at a greater risk of miscarriage. They also have a higher risk for other complications like high blood pressure, anemia, and bleeding. Infertility is not a natural condition but is triggered by many factors. If you are suffering from hypothyroidism and want to have a baby, it is best to take a doctor’s advice for effective steps.
5. Damages Peripheral Nerves
Long-term uncontrolled hypothyroidism can damage your peripheral nerves (4). These nerves carry information from your brain and spinal cord to the rest of your body. This may result in numbness, pain, and tingling in the affected areas. Have you ever experienced a random surge of tingling pain in your hands and feet? You might feel numb in those areas, even when you feel perfectly healthy. That is the result of peripheral nerve damage. Apart from that, it can also cause digestive issues and urine problems which might seem normal. If it is a repeated occurrence, make sure to get your thyroid tests done.
6. Damages Wrist Nerves
It is possible to feel discomfort and weakness in your hands if you have long-term untreated hypothyroidism. Hand nerves traverse a narrow channel within the wrist, known as the carpal tunnel. Hypothyroidism-related swelling tightens the tunnel, which can damage the nerves (5). The damage to the nerves caused by hypothyroidism may also cause hearing loss.
7. Causes Birth Defects
Infants with untreated hypothyroidism at birth are at risk of severe developmental problems (6). But if this ailment is checked within the first few months, there is a good chance of improvement. The notable symptoms are jaundice-like skin, more than usual constipation, swelling near the eyes and on the tongue, etc. Doctors usually recommend levothyroxine to cure it properly. It can be treated soon if the right measures are taken and the process is not delayed.
8. Makes You Feel Excessively Lethargic
Having hypothyroidism makes you feel drained out all the time, and you are likely to spend all day lying in bed and still feeling tired on waking up (7). This is that kind of lethargy that does not go with coffee or a quick nap. This inversely gives a fatal blow to your social life and affects your mental health.
9. Uncontrolled Weight Gain
One of the most dreaded symptoms of hypothyroidism is unchecked weight gain (8). You might have to put double the effort into exercise and maintain a strict diet to keep a balanced weight. If the thyroid is not treated in time, it can lead to obesity. The gain caused by this condition adds to the lethargy that comes with hyper thyroid. Not only that, you will always feel bloated and uncomfortable because of it.
The life-threatening condition is the result of undiagnosed hypothyroidism. Usually, this is known to affect women plus the elderly. When hypothyroidism is neglected to the point that there are loads and layers of sugar deposits in your skin, it leads to this severe condition. The symptoms of myxedema include drowsiness, cold resistance followed by profound unconsciousness, and lethargy. The myxedema coma can be triggered by infection, sedatives, or other kinds of bodily stress (9).
If severe hypothyroidism doesn’t get treated for a prolonged period, it could become fatal. The body’s response slows until it is in a condition known as a coma. With treatment, a lot of patients don’t survive. The good thing is that it’s simple to recognize and treat hypothyroidism, and it takes time to get to such a stage. Thankfully there is ample research done on the medications, and they can balance your hormones easily. Make sure you stay alert on the symptoms and help people know the importance of taking immediate medical help. Take care!
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- Thyroid Hormones in Brain Development and Function
- Massive thyroid goiter: an unusual cause of aspiration pneumonia
- Thyroid hormones and menstrual cycle function in a longitudinal cohort of premenopausal women
- Peripheral and Central Nervous System Involvement in Recently Diagnosed Cases of Hypothyroidism: An Electrophysiological Study
- Adult Hypothyroidism
- Disorders of the Thyroid Gland in Infancy Childhood and Adolescence
- Thyroid Functioning and Fatigue in Women With Functional Somatic Syndromes – Role of Early Life Adversity
- Hypothyroidism and obesity: An intriguing link