What causes hypothyroidism?
In most cases, hypothyroidism is caused by a condition called Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, in which a patient’s immune system attacks and destroys the thyroid. Hypothyroidism can also be caused by the treatment of hyperthyroidism or by certain medications, and it may be present from birth. The thyroid may temporarily become underactive after pregnancy or if it is inflamed due to a viral infection. Finally, a problem with the pituitary gland can also cause hypothyroidism.
How is the diagnosis made?
A physical examination and laboratory tests that measure the amount of thyroid hormone (thyroxine or T4) and thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) in your blood are necessary. Measurements of antibodies in the blood that attack the thyroid (antithyroid antibodies) may help diagnose the cause of hypothyroidism. Hypothyroidism cannot be detected solely by checking body temperature.
Is there any truth to the hypothyroidism diet? Can certain foods increase thyroid function?
No. Although there are several claims about hypothyroidism diets, there is no evidence that eating or avoiding certain foods will improve thyroid function in people with hypothyroidism. If you have hypothyroidism, take proper treatment as directed by our doctor. It is also important to note that too much dietary fibre can impair the absorption of the synthetic thyroid hormone. Certain foods, supplements and medications can have the same effect.
Avoid taking your thyroid hormone at the same time as:
- soybean flour
- cottonseed meal
- iron supplements or multivitamins containing iron
- calcium supplements
- antacids that contain aluminium or magnesium
- some ulcer medications, such as sucralfate (Carafate)
- some cholesterol-lowering drugs, such as those containing cholestyramine (Questran) and colestipol (Colestid)
To avoid potential interactions, eat the above foods or use those products several hours before or after you take your thyroid medication.
Can hypothyroidism cause joint pain?
Hypothyroidism can contribute to joint and muscle problems for some people, specifically in the following ways:
- muscle aches, tenderness and stiffness, especially in the shoulders and hips
- joint pain and stiffness
- swelling of small joints in the hands and feet
- carpal tunnel syndrome
Can hypothyroidism cause peripheral neuropathy and, if so, how is it treated?
Hypothyroidism is a condition in which the thyroid gland does not produce enough thyroid hormone; it is an uncommon cause of peripheral neuropathy, such as the carpal tunnel syndrome. Peripheral neuropathy is damage to your peripheral nerves, the nerves that carry information to and from your brain and spinal cord (central nervous system), and the rest of your body, such as your arms and legs. Peripheral neuropathy may be caused by severe, long-term and untreated hypothyroidism. Although the association between hypothyroidism and peripheral neuropathy is not fully understood, it is known that hypothyroidism can cause fluid retention, resulting in swollen tissues that exert pressure on peripheral nerves. Signs and symptoms of peripheral neuropathy may include pain, burning sensation or numbness and tingling in the area affected by the nerve damage. It may also cause muscle weakness or loss of muscle control. See our doctor if you know or suspect you have hypothyroidism and you are having troublesome or painful symptoms in your limbs. Treatment of peripheral neuropathy due to hypothyroidism is directed at managing the underlying hypothyroidism and treating the resulting symptoms.
I am losing hair since many years. Can it be due to hypothyroidism?
If you are losing hair since many years, there is a strong possibility that there is some medical condition responsible for it. Yes, it may be possible that hypothyroidism is the reason for your hair loss. It is suggested that you see our doctors, who will study your hair loss and assess your overall health. Consulting our doctors will help you understand the exact reason for your hair loss, and they will also help you with a solution.
I have been gaining weight for a long time now. I have tried many different diets that helped me to reduce weight, but after a while, I gained that weight back. Is it possible that I have hypothyroidism?
Stubborn weight gain is a very common symptom of hypothyroidism. You should look out for other symptoms such as tiredness, mood swings, dry skin, etc., that indicate hypothyroidism. You need to consult our doctors who can help you understand the reason for your weight gain and why you are not able to lose weight. They would like to study your case history, after which they would advise a simple blood test to check your thyroid hormone levels.