Hyperthyroidism: Excessive secretion of thyroxine can bring on many of the following symptoms: weight loss, extreme nervousness, tremors of the hands or body, protruding eyeballs, an elevated basal metabolism rate (BMR) and in the extreme diffused toxic goiter (Grave's disease). In borderline cases of hyperthyroidism there may be sudden sweating, rapid heart beating for no apparent reason (tachycardia) and fever. In some cases insomnia also occurs.
Women are more susceptible to hyperthyroidism than men. During pregnancy the endocrine system adjusts for the fetus. Afterward the shock of the birth throws the system out of kilter, what is known as postpartum blues. The glands try to restabilize and normalize their functions for a woman without a baby, but that metabolic balance is frequently never attained. After pregnancy many women suddenly gain weight and can't lose it. Moreover, their hair loses its natural gloss and becomes dry and brittle, symptoms of glandular disorders.
The birth control pill can also adversely influence the endocrine system, bringing on damage to the pancreas, sudden hypoglycemia and hyperthyroidism. Weight gain is normal for a woman taking birth control pills, which appear to upset the balance of the thyroid gland.
There are various tests to determine hyperthyroidism, but the most common one is the T-3, T-4, T-7 test, a simple blood test that can determine the levels of the two hormones in the thyroid.
Hypothyroidism: This condition is usually characterized by a gain in weight and fatigue. Constipation and subnormal temperatures are other signals. Hair may become dry and brittle; skin, excessively dry and flaky. Since the basal metabolism rate is lowered, the pulse may slow and low blood pressure may occur. Sluggishness of all functions will eventually ensue, and muscular activity will become depressed. Other symptoms include sensitivity to cold, inducing a person to wear more clothes, sluggish nerve reflexes and a general thickening of the skin. The outer third of each eyebrow may become hairless. And there can be a decrease of bone marrow and the beginning of anemia.
Hypothyroidism in an adult, if not caught and controlled in time, is called myxedema. In some cases, because of an inborn metabolic error, the body will produce antibodies to destroy the thyroid secretions, accounting for many heretofore unexplained cases of spontaneous myxedema.
Hypothyroidism in infants manifests as cretinism, usually caused because a mother suffers a deficiency of iodine during pregnancy. (Other genetic factors may be involved.) If undetected, cretinism will permanently render an infant mentally disabled and physically handicapped within six months to a year. For that reason it is imperative that a pregnant woman known to have a hypothyroid condition consult her doctor so that the fetus's thyroid will not suffer because of the mother's insufficiency. As I've indicated, in Canada every infant receives a blood test a few days after birth to determine if cretinism exists.
There are different tests for determining whether or not the thyroid is slow-functioning. The serum TSH test is one of the best. It is also helpful in differentiating between primary and secondary hypothyroidism: a normal serum level of TSH excludes primary hypothyroidism. But if the hypothalamus is suspect of triggering the problem in the thyroid, advance tests are indicated.
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Once your pregnancy is over and done with, your baby is happily in your arms, and youre headed back home from the hospital, youll begin to realize that things have only just begun. Over the next few days, weeks, and months, youre going to increasingly notice that your entire life has changed in more ways than you could ever imagine.