Hypothyroidism in most people cannot be prevented. One of the most preventable causes of hypothyroidism is iodine deficiency in diet.
Hypothyroidism is caused when the thyroid gland does not make enough thyroid hormone. The various causes of hypothyroidism include:
- Hashimoto's thyroiditis (an autoimmune disorder in which the body’s immune system attack thyroid tissue because of which the gland can't make enough thyroid hormone).
- Iodine deficiency (iodine is needed by the gland to make thyroid hormones).
- Surgical removal of thyroid gland.
- Certain viral infections.
- Radiation therapy to gland for cancer.
- Some drugs such as lithium.
Of the above mentioned causes, most of the causes cannot be prevented except hypothyroidism due to iodine deficiency.
Hypothyroidism caused by iodine deficiency: Iodine is an essential component needed to make thyroid hormone. Iodine is obtained from diet and in underdeveloped parts of the world, many people do not get enough iodine from their food. Hence, they develop hypothyroidism as their body cannot make enough thyroid hormone. Hypothyroidism is more harmful for babies as it prevents their brain and body from developing normally. At present, iodine deficiency is a leading cause of hypothyroidism and preventable mental retardation globally.
Some other causes of hypothyroidism such as drug induced hypothyroidism can probably be prevented, but most of the other causes cannot be prevented.
The symptoms and effects of hypothyroidism, however, can be managed by being watchful for signs of the disease (especially, if you are at risk of hypothyroidism) so that it can be diagnosed and treated promptly. Some factors that increase the risk of developing hypothyroidism include family history of hypothyroidism, history of radiation therapy to neck region, taking certain medications such as lithium etc.
People, who have hypothyroidism, can control the effects of the disease by taking medications as recommended and going for regular follow-up. Regular follow-up for hypothyroidism is needed as the condition may become more or less severe as the disease progresses. Blood tests (TSH test and T4 test) may be done during follow-up visits to determine if there is enough thyroid hormone in your blood with replacement medication. Based on the tests, the doctor will change the dose of your medication to keep the symptoms under control and prevent side effects of medications. You, however, will have to take medications for lifetime.
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