When you’re always cold, have a rapid heartbeat and can’t burn your calories well, it’s time to have your thyroid glands checked.
The thyroid gland controls the ability of the body’s cells to use the energy that it gets from food. This is called metabolism. The gland can be found at the front lower part of one’s neck. It releases hormones to aid in the metabolism.
But some people do not produce enough hormones; slowing down the body’s metabolism process and making it difficult to burn the calories, control the heartbeat and temperature of the body.
Dr. Ruben Ogbac, former president of the Philippine Thyroid Association, said to Radyo Klinika, that there are several reasons why the thyroid becomes underactive. Among which are the following: low iodine in the diet; use of some medicines to treat heart; psychiatric and cancer problems; thyroiditis, or inflammation of the thyroid gland; radiation therapy and radioactive iodine treatment; pituitary gland disorder; and problem in the hypothalamus (in the brain, making it difficult to produce a hormone called TRH).
It is not yet known why women are more prone to have an underactive thyroid than men. According to the Philippine Thyroid Disorders study, women are three times more likely to have hypothyroidism than men.
In fact, some women, after giving birth, develop postpartum thyroiditis. Ogbac said that a severe increase in thyroid hormone levels, which will be followed by a sharp drop in the thyroid hormone production can happen to a woman who has just given birth. But there are times when a woman would regain her normal thyroid production even without treatment.
Aside from women, people who have autoimmune disorders, like vitiligo, diabetes, celiac disease, rheumathoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, pernicious anemia and Addison’s disease, are at risk of having hypothyroidism.
Obesity or weight gain, constipation, depression, slow heart rate, sensitivity to cold, dry hair or hair loss, goiter, memory loss and fatigue are among the symptoms of hypothyroidism.
If hypothyroidism doesn’t get immediate treatment, the patient will develop hypertension and heart disease. It can also cause infertility and joint pains.
This is usually treated with a man-made thyroid hormone called T4, or thyroxine. Ogbac said that this replaces the thyroid hormone, which can’t be produced by an underactive thyroid gland. This pill is taken every day.
Hair loss may happen in the first few months of treatment, but the body will adjust to this eventually. See a doctor if the medicine causes severe sweating or sensitivity to heat, mood swings, nervousness, fatigue, shaking, diarrhea, headache and shortness of breath.
It is important to have the underactive thyroid treated as this can be a life-threatening condition. A condition called myxedema can lead to coma. It can also lower the body temperature, and cause death to the patient.