Causes & Treatment for Hypothyroidism

By Patricia | September 2, 2009

Symptoms and Causes

What you are experiencing is a possible case of hypothyroidism; however, this diagnosis should only be made after a number of clinical tests are conducted. The diagnosis of hypothyroidism is made only after the testing your free triiodothyronine, free levothyroxine, and the total levels of the thyroxine and triiodothyronine levels. If you live in the United States, then the chances of hypothyroidism occurring due to a deficient iodine intake are very slim so additional testing is usually done to find out why the condition has occurred in the first place. Some of these include tests of the pituitary glands, elevated amounts of cholesterol in the blood, and antibodies that could indicate an autoimmune disease. Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is one such disease in which the body’s immune system destroys the thyroid gland.

Hypothyroidism and Thyroid Gland

The thyroid gland is stimulated to produce hormones that are essential for metabolism by the hypothalamus in the brain. The hypothalamus signals the pituitary gland to produce a hormone that further signals the thyroid gland to produce thyroxine and triiodothyronine. These go on further to stimulate the muscles and other organs to produce hormones that regulate the metabolism. In the past, hypothyroidism was manifested as cretinism in children and goiter. Goiter is an enlargement of the thyroid gland because of cell division in the thyroid gland. This type of hypothyroidism is caused by the insufficient intake of iodine in the diet. Iodine is an important element that is required to create triiodothyronine. With the deficiency of this hormone in the blood, the pituitary gland will then signal the thyroid gland to enlarge and grow bigger to secrete a larger amount of the hormone. This is what then causes goiter.
This condition is treated by injecting a radioactive isotope of iodine into the blood stream, which then kills off the extra cells of the thyroid gland. The alternative to this is to excise the thyroid gland surgically.

Treatment and Diet

There is no remedy for hypothyroidism in dietary form or over the counter medications that will stimulate the thyroid gland, as explained by the complex signaling that stimulates the thyroid gland. If not brought on by an iodine deficiency, you will have to take pills of levothyroxine daily for the rest of your life to regulate your metabolism. There are some studies that indicate taking thyroid gland extract from animal sources can stimulate the thyroid gland but there are an equal number of studies that refute this claim as well.

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