Risk Factors And Complications Of Hypothyroidism

Hypothyroidism is fairly common medical condition, especially among certain high risk individuals. Find out if you are at higher risk of hypothyroidism and see your doctor to find out if you have hypothyroidism. The risk factors of hypothyroidism are, check if you have any of these:

  • If you have an autoimmune disease such as pernicious anemia, lupus (SLE or DLE), autoimmune arthritis etc.
  • If you have a first degree relative (parent or grandparent) with autoimmune disease.
  • If you are a woman and above 60 years of age
  • If you have received radiotherapy in the neck
  • If you have had a thyroid surgery (subtotal thyroidectomy) for any reason, e. g. for treatment of hyperthyroidism or for treatment of toxic nodular goiter.
  • If you were suffering from hyperthyroidism and treated with radioactive iodine or with anti-thyroid drugs.

Although anyone can develop hypothyroidism, the risk is much higher if you have any of the above mentioned risks.

Hypothyroidism is associated with various complications. The following are the complications that may occur due to hypothyroidism:

  1. Goiter: goiter is enlargement of thyroid gland. If you suffer from hypothyroidism, it constantly stimulate thyroid gland to produce more thyroid hormones, due to increase level of TSH (thyroid stimulating hormoine). Due to constant stimulation by TSH, the thyroid gland may become enlarged and cause goiter. Enlargement of thyroid gland may not pose serious health problems, but it certainly cause cosmetic problem as it lead to swelling in the neck, which is easily visible.
  2. Myxedema: this occurs in longstanding and untreated cases of hypothyroidism. This is a rare condition, but can be fatal. Myxedema causes drowsiness, cold intolerance and may lead to unconsciousness and coma and ultimately death. Myxedema is a medical emergency and need prompt treatment with active thyroid hormones.
  3. Heart problems: hypothyroidism is associated with increased level of LDL or bad cholesterol, which is associated with high risk of heart problems.
  4. Infertility may be a problem with hypothyroidism. Low level of thyroid hormone leads to faulty ovulation and infertility. Treatment of hypothyroidism may not restore fertility and may require other medical intervention for fertility.
  5. Birth defects: hypothyroidism may cause birth defects. Babies born to mothers with hypothyroidism have higher risk of birth defects as well as have mental health problems.
  6. Long and untreated hypothyroidism may lead to damage of peripheral nerves and cause peripheral neuropathy.

Do not ignore symptoms of hypothyroidism and consult your doctors if you have any doubt about your thyroid status and get your hypothyroidism treated adequately.

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