Hypothyroidism, also referred to as an underactive thyroid, is a condition whereby the thyroid gland does not produce sufficient amounts of hormones. This condition upsets the body’s normal balance of chemical reactions. When it is in the early stages, hypothyroidism rarely causes symptoms. However, if this condition goes untreated over time, it can cause several health problems like heart disease, infertility, joint pain and obesity among others.
Symptoms and Complications of Hypothyroidism in Men
Hypothyroidism in men, unfortunately, occurs and is quite frequent. For many men, distinguishing between the symptoms and signs may be hard. Even though this disease mostly occurs in women, you need to keep an eye out for these symptoms:
Loss of energy
Slow heart rate
Husky voice or hoarseness
Dry hair and skin
Weight gain (even when the appetite is poor)
Muscle stiffness and cramps
Abnormal sensitivity to cold weather, which develops gradually
Yellowish tint of skin
Irregular, heavy menstrual periods that can even last longer than 5 to 7 days
Enlarged thyroid gland
Swollen feet, legs, hands and arms and puffy face
The severity of the symptoms normally depends on a person’s age, the duration that man has hypothyroidism and how serious that condition is. These symptoms can even be mild and thus go unnoticed for many years.
If severe hypothyroidism goes untreated, there may be a cluster of symptoms known as myxedema. Symptoms include puffy eyes, thin hair, expressionless face, thick skin and it feels doughy and cool and an enlarged tongue.
The complications include dementia, infertility, heart failure, enlarged heart and goiter.
Causes of Hypothyroidism in Men
This occurs when the antibodies produced by the immune system start attacking the body’s tissues. There are times when this process also involves the thyroid gland. Scientists are yet to determine how these antibodies are produced, but either way they (antibodies) do affect the thyroid gland’s hormone producing ability.
Treatment for Hyperthyroidism
Anti-thyroid medication or radioactive iodine is often used to treat hyperthyroidism. However, there are some cases where this treatment results in permanent hypothyroidism.
Hormone production is halted or diminished via the removal of a large potion or the entire thyroid gland. In such a case, you will be required to take thyroid hormone forever.
Hypothyroidism can be caused when radiation is being used to treat cancers of the neck or head. The radiation affects the thyroid gland thus causing hypothyroidism.
Certain Kinds of Medications
There are several medications that can cause hypothyroidism. For example, lithium which used in treating some psychiatric disorders. Consult your doctor about your medication’s effects on your thyroid gland.
Less Common Causes
Viral and bacterial infections: some scientists think that viral or bacterial infections can lead to hypothyroidism.
Congenital disease: there are some babies that are either born without a thyroid gland or with a defective one for unknown reasons. Other children inherit this disorder. Most often, babies that have congenital hypothyroidism look normal during birth. This is why many states require thyroid screening for newborns.
Pituitary disorder: this is when the pituitary gland fails to produce sufficient THS (Thyroid Stimulating Hormone) typically because of a benign tumor at your pituitary gland. This is, however, a rare cause.
Lodine deficiency: thyroid hormone production is also triggered by trace mineral iodine that is primarily found in iodized salt, seaweed, seafood and plants that are grown in soil that is rich in iodine. There are some places around the world where there is iodine deficiency. Conversely, intake of too much iodine can lead to hypothyroidism.
Treatments of Hypothyroidism in Men
Things You Have to Pay Attention to
Levothyroxine virtually causes zero side effects when you use it in the correct dosage. However, excessive amounts have side effects like shakiness, heart palpitations, insomnia and increased appetite.
Never skip your dosage or halt drug intake just because you have started feeling better. If you stop, the symptoms will return.
Some foods, supplements and medications can affect a person’s ability to absorb levothyroxine. Consult your doctor if you consume a diet high in fiber or soy products in large amounts or if you are taking other medications like aluminum hydroxide, cholestyramine, iron supplements.
If your condition is subclinical hypothyroidism, consult your doctor about the treatment. For a mild TSH increase, you might not benefit from thyroid hormone therapy. Treatment may be harmful.