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3 Facts about Hypothyroidism

I know I am not the only nurse living with hypothyroidism, or maybe you have some questions about how the thyroid works and why your patients are taking certain medications. Here are three tips to get you a handle on the thyroid and hypothyroidism.

Hypothyroidism is more common than we think. 4.6% of the United States population has hypothyroidism, and 1 in 8 women experience it at some point in their lives.

The thyroid is a gland that is located in front of your neck in the lower middle portion. It produced hormones called Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH) triiodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine (T4). These hormones affect your overall health especially your metabolism.

1. Examination

The physical exam tells you a lot about the thyroid. It starts with inspecting the neck then palpating the organ. This diagnosis can locate nodules as well as enlargement in the thyroid.

Many diseases cause similar symptoms to hypothyroidism, which is why the confirmed diagnosis is made through biochemical tests, such as blood measurement of thyroid hormones like a TSH or T4.

2. Symptoms

Hypothyroidism has so many symptoms that it can be mistaken for other diseases. In 90% of cases, free T4 is low with increased TSH in blood.

The most common symptoms in adults are fatigue, lethargy, cold intolerance, weight gain, constipation, voice changes, and dry skin, dry hair, and hair loss, but this may differ from person to person.

In women, hypothyroidism impacts differently. We can suffer from heavy or irregular menstrual periods, fertility problems or depression.

3. Treatment

Hypothyroidism is treated by replacing the hormones that the body can no longer produce through an identical synthetic form to the natural hormone.

This twin hormone is known as levothyroxine and is commonly prescribed by a specialist according to each patient's body and chemical needs.

Although this condition is common, 80% of people are not diagnosed while suffering daily from unexplained symptoms. If you think you have thyroid problems, do not hesitate to attend your trusted doctor.

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