The thyroid is a tiny butterfly-shaped gland, situated just below the larynx and is an important part of a person’s endocrine system. The thyroid gland is controlled by the pituitary gland, which is in turn regulated by the hypothalamus. The thyroid gland is made up of two lobes on either side of the trachea, with an isthmus, or thyroid tissue joining both lobes. This gland produces two hormones – Triiodothyronine (T3) and Thyroxine (T4), by breaking down the iodine in food and converting them into these two hormones. A hormone called “Thyroid Releasing Hormone” (TRH) is released by the hypothalamus when the levels of T3 and T4 fall. The pituitary gland picks up the low TRH signal, and releases the “Thyroid Stimulating Hormone” (TSH). TSH stimulates the thyroid gland to produce more hormones and release it into the bloodstream, thereby regulating the thyroid hormone levels. Once the thyroid hormone levels come up, the TRH levels drop. This is sensed by the pituitary gland and release of TSH is stopped. When there is a deficiency in the formation of the thyroid hormone in the body, and the thyroid gland is not active as it should be, the disorder is called hypothyroidism. Read on to know the causes and symptoms of low thyroid level.
Symptoms Of Hypothyroidism
Causes Of Low Thyroid Level
The following are some of the causes of hypothyroidism.
- Hashimoto’s disease, where the thyroid gland is inflamed. This is an autoimmune disease where the body does not recognize the thyroid gland as a part of the body and releases antibodies to fight it. This could even destroy the thyroid gland.
- Diet deficient in iodine.
- Malfunction of the hypothalamus or the pituitary gland.
- Infection of the thyroid gland.
- Radiation treatment that could have been used to treat hyperthyroidism (an overactive thyroid gland) could have a reverse effect.
- Congenital defects.
- Birth control pills (since estrogen inhibits the working of the thyroid gland).
- Viral infections (however, the effects are mild and temporary).
Symptoms Of Low Thyroid Level
Fatigue: Since the thyroid plays a crucial role in metabolism, an under-active thyroid will make a person feel very tired, even after a good night’s sleep.
Sensitivity To Cold: The sufferer will feel the need to wear warm clothing even in spring and summer.
Constipation: Food moves through the gastro-intestinal tract much slower since metabolism is slowed down. This results in constipation.
Forgetfulness And Depression: Memory problems accompanied by depression are often signs of an under-active thyroid. This is the reason why many psychiatrists recommend that their patients undergo a test for TSH levels, before they begin therapy. All body functions slow down due to the slowing down of metabolism. The slow-down includes one’s mental faculties.
Changes To Nails, Hair And Skin: Hair and nails can get brittle and the skin becomes dry and pale. The sufferer will also find that their hair gets thinner or even drops out. Nails also get thinner and may break easily.