The Undercover Condition

What You Need to Know About Hypothyroidism 

Understanding hypothyroidism is important because it can easily be diagnosed, and with proper treatment, we can successfully cure most patients.”  Peter Kasznica, MD and Thomas Tamura, MD, Midwest Ear, Nose and Throat

Feeling sluggish or worn down? Have you been experiencing weight gain or dry skin? You may be suffering from a hormonal disbalance called hypothyroidism. But don’t fret yet.

These symptoms are often present in the majority of people and only a few are officially diagnosed with the condition. But physicians Peter Kasznica, MD and Thomas Tamura, MD at Midwest ENT do point out that hypothyroidism isn’t something to be taken lightly, even though the warning signs are common. Here’s a closer look at hypothyroidism and how it’s treated.

Dollarphotoclub 34616261About Hypothyroidism

First of all, it’s important to understand hypothyroidism. “It’s defined as a deficiency of thyroid hormone caused by the thyroid gland itself not producing enough of the hormone,” says Drs. Kasznica and Tamura. It generally occurs 2 to 8 times more in women than men and there’s more than one type. “Some patients suffer from secondary and tertiary hypothyroidism,” says Drs. Kasznica and Tamura. But these conditions differ in that they occur from decreased stimulation in glands other than the thyroid.

Studies have even found new mothers could also be at risk. “Up to 10 percent of women can have hypothyroidism the first 2-12 months after delivering a baby,” they say. “For these women, hormone replacement can be started or it can resolve itself over 2-4 months.”

What to Look For

Knowing whether you have hypothyroidism can be difficult, since it causes a wide array of common symptoms. Here are a few of the signs and symptoms to look out for:

  • Feeling sluggish, both mentally and physically
  • Hair loss
  • Feeling cold more easily
  • Forgetfulness
  • Constipation
  • Dry skin and hair
  • Fatigue
  • Depression
  • Weight gain

Both physicians say it can take months and even years for these symptoms to occur and it’s difficult to fully diagnose based solely on symptoms. In fact, some patients may not have any at all.

Causes and Treatments

The most common cause of hypothyroidism in the United States is related to chronic lymphocytic rhyroiditis, also known as Hashimoto’s disease. It may have a complicated name, but the cause is rather simple. “Basically the body creates antibodies which injure the normal thyroid tissue, eventually causing hypothyroidism,” says Dr. Kasznica and Dr. Tamura.

Sometimes, your own medications may be to blame, so it’s suggested to review your current medications with your primary doctor if you’re diagnosed with hypothyroidism.

The best treatment is undergoing thyroid hormone replacement. “Most of the time, patients get started on hormone replacement which doesn’t even require surgery unless the thyroid gland is large or there’s concern for a malignancy,” says Dr. Kasznica and Dr. Tamura.

There are many causes of hypothyroidism, some of which require further workup from your physician. In general, internal medicine physicians and endocrinologists medically manage thyroid conditions and hypothyroidism. However, surgeons may be necessary for imaging and surgery if supplemental care is needed.

What Lies Ahead

Currently, the condition affects almost 4 percent of the population and increases with age. “We can’t say we’re seeing more cases of hypothyroidism, but as the population ages and lives longer, there will likely be an increase in hypothyroidism.

If you think you have hypothyroidism, it’s important to speak with your primary care provider or endocrinologist. Dr. Kasznica and Dr. Tamura both offer endocrine evaluations with a focus on surgical management of thyroid and parathyroid disease.

By Jennifer Dumke: Sioux Falls Woman Magazine