Sluggish thyroid syndrome, also known as hypothyroidism is a medical condition wherein the thyroid gland is unable to secrete adequate amounts of thyroid hormones. Scroll down to know more about the causes, symptoms and the treatment of this thyroid problem.
The thyroid gland is a small butterfly-shaped gland which is located just below the larynx. The thyroid tissue is made from two cell types. These are referred to as the follicular cells and parafollicular cells. The follicular cells combine with an amino acid called tyrosine to secrete two hormones called thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3). On the other hand, the parafollicular cells secrete a hormone called calcitonin. The hormones secreted by the thyroid gland are necessary for the healthy functioning of the human body.
The T3 and T4 hormones play an important role in the process of temperature regulation, metabolism and overall growth and development of the body. Calcitonin helps in maintaining the calcium balance in the body. When the thyroid gland is unable to secrete adequate amounts of thyroid hormones, one is diagnosed with the sluggish thyroid syndrome (hypothyroidism). An overactive thyroid gland gives rise to a thyroid problem called hyperthyroidism.
Causes and Symptoms of an Underactive Thyroid Gland
An underactive thyroid gland may be attributed to an iodine deficiency. The thyroid gland uses iodine from the food and converts it into T3 and T4 which is why an iodine deficiency could be responsible for low thyroid function. If your diet doesn’t include adequate amounts of iodine, you are at an increased risk of developing hypothyroidism. People suffering from an autoimmune diseases called Hashimoto’s disease are also likely to exhibit symptoms of this thyroid condition. Hashimoto’s disease is an autoimmune disease in which the antibodies produced by the body’s immune system are unable to distinguish the body’s cells from the foreign bodies. As a result, they attack the thyroid gland, thereby affecting the ability of the thyroid gland to produce adequate amounts of thyroid hormones.
Since thyroid gland is also controlled by the pituitary gland, pituitary gland disorders could also cause this thyroid disorder. Those who have undergone thyroidectomy (partial or complete removal of the thyroid gland) or chemotherapy in the neck are also at a greater risk of developing this thyroid condition. It has been seen that women are more prone to suffer from hypothyroidism than men. Women might suffer from this condition due to the use of birth control pills.
Symptoms of this thyroid disorder might also be experienced by women during perimenopause and pregnancy. This could be attributed to the interplay between the reproductive hormones and the thyroid hormones. The symptoms of an underactive thyroid include fatigue, sluggishness, weakness, poor concentration, hair loss, dry skin, puffy face, brittle nails, cold intolerance, mood swings, depression, muscle cramps, constipation, heart palpitations, sleep disorders or weight gain. The symptoms might vary depending on the severity of hormone deficiency.
Diagnosis and Treatment of an Underactive Thyroid Gland
If you have been experiencing any of the aforementioned symptoms, do consult a doctor soon. This condition can be diagnosed by measuring the levels of T3, T4 and TSH in blood. If the test results are indicative of this thyroid disorder, doctors prescribe the use of synthetic thyroxine pills. Natural thyroid supplements can also be used for treating low thyroid levels. Following the recommended dietary guidelines will also prove beneficial for treating this condition.
Since an iodine deficiency could adversely affect the thyroid function, it would be best to use iodized salt for cooking. Consumption of foods rich in fibers, vitamins and proteins will also prove beneficial. Since hypothyoidism and weight gain are inter-related, following the dietary guidelines will prove beneficial. You must avoid junk foods, soy products, starchy carbohydrates, oily foods, caffeine, alcohol and carbonated drinks.
Vegetables such as cabbage, kale, lima beans, mustard greens, broccoli, sweet potatoes, radish and cauliflower are thyroid suppressants, an excessive intake of any of these vegetables must be avoided. You must consume foods that are rich in iodine and selenium. Fluoride and chlorine affect the absorption of iodine which is why these must be avoided. Certain drugs can also interfere with the function of thyroid gland. Women who are taking birth control pills, sulfa drugs or anti-diabetic medications must consult their doctor on experiencing such symptoms.
If you have been diagnosed with this thyroid problem, you must religiously follow the guidelines given by your doctor. Drug therapy coupled with lifestyle-related changes will certainly help in restoring the thyroid levels back to normal.