Hypothyroidism is a condition that surfaces when the thyroid gland, located just below the Adam’s Apple, fails to produce enough thyroid hormone. Since every cell in your body has thyroid hormone receptors, poor performance can trigger a host of issues in both the mind and body.
The thyroid gland is a complicated, multi-faceted machine that regulates your metabolism and controls every bit of the energy you use, from scratching your nose to running a marathon.
Some common symptoms of hypothyroidism include: fatigue, depression, weight gain, sensitivity to cold, high cholesterol, constipation, thinning and dry hair, brain fog and forgetfulness.
In previous posts I’ve covered the number one cause of hypothyroidism, an autoimmune disease called Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis. Today, I’d like to discuss some common complications of general hypothyroidism.
I’m especially passionate about this topic since I once suffered from hypothyroidism and many of my patients exhibit these symptoms long before they’re diagnosed. That’s because it isn’t routine to run comprehensive tests on thyroid function in standard medicine.
If you’re having trouble getting pregnant, I highly recommend getting your thyroid checked (and not just TSH and T4). The thyroid hormone is instrumental in a woman’s monthly cycle. A lack of production disrupts ovulation, making it tough for a woman to conceive.
When thyroid hormone is low, there is an increase in “bad” cholesterol, which links directly to heart issues. High cholesterol can ultimately lead to a hardening of the arteries—a common cause for heart attacks and strokes.
Admittedly not the most attractive name, a goiter can appear when your thyroid over exerts itself in an effort to produce more thyroid hormone. The result is an enlarged thyroid gland at the lower front portion of the neck. Goiters aren’t necessarily painful, but they affect appearance and can dampen self-esteem.
As I’ve discussed in previous posts, depression is a common symptom of an underactive thyroid. When left untreated its symptoms can worsen, beginning to inhibit normal brain function and present cognitive issues. Over time, this could result in a decrease in the mental function presenting extreme brain fog and comprehension issues.
A mother with an untreated thyroid disorder presents higher risk of birth defects at the time of delivery. Such children are pre-dispositioned to serious mental and developmental problems. On the bright side, as long as you identify these problems within the first few months of your child’s life, the chances of overcoming these obstacles are extremely high.
This is a rare condition, but worth mentioning because it can be life threatening. However, since the symptoms—coma, loss of consciousness—are so overt, it’s rare that it progresses to the point of death. Myxedema is essentially advanced hypothyroidism present from lack of treatment over a prolonged period of time. This occurs when the metabolism slows almost to a halt, causing the person to lapse into a coma.
Adverse Reactions to Anesthetia
According to Hypothyroidism and Anesthesia PubMed, “Preoperative recognition of hypothyroidism is essential for the safe anesthetic management of these patients. Elective surgical procedures should not be undertaken in the presence of untreated hypothyroidism.” If you know you have a thyroid issue or you are not sure, have a thorough assessment and make sure you are being treated for it before going under anesthesia.
If you’re experiencing problems that sound like hypothyroidism, be sure to talk to your doctor about properly checking your thyroid function—before it advances to a more complicated issue.