Endocrinologist & Diabetologist Dr Sweta Budyal Answers All Your Questions About Hypothyroidism

📷 Your thyroid is responsible for providing energy to nearly every organ in your body. It controls functions such as how your heart beats and how your digestive system works. Without the right amount of thyroid hormones, your body’s natural functions begin to slow down. Hypothyroidism occurs when your body doesn’t produce enough thyroid hormones.

1. What is hypothyroidism? What is the difference between hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism?

A butterfly-shaped gland in our neck is called the thyroid gland. This gland produces thyroid hormones. Thyroid hormones are important for the optimal functioning of all our organs, especially energy and metabolism. Hypothyroidism is a condition in which the thyroid gland does not produce enough thyroid hormones. People often confuse this with hyperthyroidism, which is a condition where the gland makes an excessive amount of thyroid hormones.

2. How does hypothyroidism affect women? At what age do thyroid problems start for women?

Hypothyroidism can start at any age. When hypothyroidism is present right from birth it is called Congenital Hypothyroidism, and this condition can affect both boys and girls equally. The cause for this is the absence of thyroid gland. When hypothyroidism starts later in life, it is called Acquired Hypothyroidism. Acquired Hypothyroidism is almost 10 times more common in women than in men.

3. What is the role of genetics in thyroid-related health conditions?

Hypothyroidism in adult women is an autoimmune disorder and it generally results from the interaction of multiple genes with environmental factors. Variations in several genes that encode HLA (Human Leukocyte Antigen), CTLA4, PTPN-22 and vitamin D receptor are associated with developed of hypothyroidism from Hashimoto’s Disease, which is the most common cause of hypothyroidism in adult women.

4. What are some risk factors that women should be aware of?

The risk factors for developing hypothyroidism in women are: – Age more than 50 years – Family history of thyroid disorders – Presence of other autoimmune diseases like type 1 Diabetes, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Celiac Disease – Radiation exposure – Thyroid surgery – Exposure to anti-thyroid medications – Certain medications like Amiodarone, Sunitinib, Interferons – Recent childbirth

5. How long can you have hypothyroidism without knowing?

It depends on case to case basis. Occasionally there can be a lag of six months to a couple of years before a person undergoes a thyroid test.