Archive | January 2018

QUOTE FOR THE WEEKEND:

“Results from a study I conducted suggest that music can prevent the transmission of pain signals from the spinal cord to the brain.”

Mathieu Roy, a Psychologist  of the University of Colorado, Boulder

Part II Music and how it impacts the brain & even our health.

music and how it impacts the brain 4  music and how it impacts the brain 2

Pain relief with a pain relieving nature-MUSIC.

The improvement of physical wellbeing through music isn’t only about perceived pain relief. Studies show that playing music for patients before, during, and after medical procedures can help lower blood pressure, reduce anxiety and stress, ease muscle tension, and more.  At the Chronic Pain Care Center at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, music therapy is part of the array of techniques that patients learn to help control their pain, according to osteopathic physician Steven Stanos, medical director of the center. As Stanos sees it, there is no reason not to take time to listen to music.  “What we’ve learned from our pain patients is that any intervention that can be distracting, relaxing, and enjoyable — whether it’s music or another therapy — can decrease the experience of pain,” Stanos says. 

Listening to a song can have a real effect on various parts of the brain, with studies showing that areas responsible for aspects, such as memory and vision, can ‘light up’ in response to music.

‘There’s a very wide range of reactions in the body and mind to music, and brain imaging studies have shown that various parts of the brain may be activated by a piece of music,’ says Dr Victoria Williamson, lecturer in psychology at Goldsmith’s College, London.

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‘For example, a recent study in Canada showed that there’s a real causal relationship between music and the reward system, a core part of the brain that reacts to stimuli, which are good for us – food, light, sex for example – and reinforces these behaviors meaning that we do them more.’

Researchers at McGill University in Montreal showed that listening to pleasurable music of any description induced ‘musical chills’, which triggered the release of the feel-good chemical dopamine.

Music so impacting to our brain that music is even considered having a pain-relieving nature, scientists are exploring how the brain processes music during pain. Look at when we go to the doctor or better the dentist. More are less out to go to the dentist as opposed to the MD since a doctor’s visit doesn’t include the day of the visit or soon later a drill going in out mouth to take care of a cavity or worse Root Canal Surgery, you get the picture. Remember when you have or if you still do regularly go to the dentist there is always soft music in the background. This is because it calms the body through how the brain reacts to soft music as opposed to hard rough music.

When the body encounters something painful — you step on a tack or having a drill applied to a cavity with no novacaine if allergic or the patient just refuses the medication, for instance — electrochemical signals travel from the site of the injury to the spinal cord and on to the brain. There, several brain regions work together to process pain signals — ultimately resulting in the conscious experience of, “Ow, that hurts!” In contrast, brain scans reveal that listening to pleasing music increases activity in parts of the brain’s reward center. 

“Pleasant music triggers the release of the brain chemical dopamine,” explains Robert Zatorre, of McGill University, who studies emotion and music. This change “is strongly associated with other rewarding and motivating stimuli, such as food, sex, and certain addictive drugs,” Zatorre adds. Scientists believe that music’s ability to make you feel good may be one way it helps to alleviate pain.

PLEASING TUNES = RELIEVING PAIN

Studies also suggest that how good a song makes you feel affects your perception of pain. Although musical taste is subjective, there are common features of music that evoke fairly universal responses. For instance, most people find musical consonance (harmonies or chords) to be pleasant and dissonance (clashing notes) to be unpleasant.

When scientists asked study volunteers to evaluate pain while they listened to different types of music, researchers found that people who listened to excerpts of music judged by most to be pleasant (such as the Romantic music piece “The Blue Danube Waltz“) reported less pain than those who listened to unpleasant music (such as Steve Reich’s modern classical piece “Pendulum Music“). The more pleasing the listeners found the music to be, the less pain they felt. 

Other studies suggest that music can interfere with pain signals even before they reach the brain — at the level of the spinal cord. In these studies, scientists examine how different types of music change the withdrawal reflex: an involuntary organized entirely in the spinal cord. 

In one study, scientists measured how forcefully volunteers withdrew their feet after being mildly electrically zapped on an ankle as they listened to music. Compared with pleasant music, unpleasant music resulted in stronger leg reflexes and greater reports of pain. 

Psychologist Mathieu Roy, of the University of Colorado, Boulder, who conducted the study, says these results suggest that music can prevent the transmission of pain signals from the spinal cord to the brain.

 

QUOTE FOR FRIDAY:

“It is a known fact that listening to Classical music enhances the mathematical ability of a growing child. Also, chanting helps release endorphins in the body creating a calm person, full of positive energy.”

Dr. Shaan Manohar  ENT MD specialist at Nanavati Hospital

Part I How Music Impacts The Brain!

how music impacts the brain I     How music impacts the brain II3

                  how music impacts the brain II

 

We can usually pick if a piece of music is particularly happy or sad, but this isn’t just a subjective idea that comes from how it makes us feel. In fact, our brains actually respond differently to happy and sad music. Even short pieces of happy or sad music can affect us.

When we hear a form of music we actually match the tone of the music with our mood or reaction to it. This means that sometimes we can understand the emotions of a piece of music without actually feeling them, which explains why some of us find listening to sad music to enjoyable, rather than depressing or sad to others.

We all like to pump up the tunes when we’re powering through our to-do lists, right? But when it comes to creative work, loud music may not be the best option.

It turns out that a moderate level of noises is the sweet level for creativity. Even more than low noise levels, ambient noise apparently gets our creative juices flowing, and doesn’t put us off the way high levels of noise does.

The way this works is that moderate noise levels increase processing difficulty which promotes abstract processing, leading to higher creativity. In other words, when we struggle (just enough) to process things as we normally would, we resort to more creative approaches.

In high noise levels, however, our creative thinking is impaired because we’re overwhelmed and struggle to process information efficiently.

This is very similar to how temperature and lighting can affect our productivity, where paradoxically a slightly more crowded place can be beneficial.

Of course, generalizing based on some studies is very hard. However looking at the science of introverts and extroverts, there is some clear overlap showing the following:

To break it down, here is the connection they has been found about people (again remember this is generally speaking):

  • Blues fans have high self-esteem, are creative, outgoing, gentle and at ease
  • Jazz fans have high self-esteem, are creative, outgoing and at ease
  • Classical music fans have high self-esteem, are creative, introvert and at ease
  • Rap fans have high self-esteem and are outgoing
  • Opera fans have high self-esteem, are creative and gentle
  • Country and western fans are hardworking and outgoing
  • Reggae fans have high self-esteem, are creative, not hardworking, outgoing, gentle and at ease
  • Dance fans are creative and outgoing but not gentle
  • Indie fans have low self-esteem, are creative, not hard working, and not gentle
  • Bollywood fans are creative and outgoing
  • Rock/heavy metal fans have low self-esteem, are creative, not hard-working, not outgoing, gentle, and at ease
  • Chart pop fans have high self-esteem, are hardworking, outgoing and gentle, but are not creative and not at ease
  • Soul fans have high self-esteem, are creative, outgoing, gentle, and at ease.  Playing music expands our thinking. We generally assume that learning a musical instrument can be beneficial for kids, but it’s actually useful in more ways than we might expect.  Studies have shown that children who had three years or more musical instrument training performed better than those who didn’t learn an instrument in auditory discrimination abilities and fine motor skills.
  • Instrument playing is a form of exercise that is great for your health as opposed to sitting watching t.v. where no creativity or imagining or brain concentrating takes place.
  • It seems that unfamiliar, or uninteresting, music is best for safe driving. Reason: Less Distracted.

Research on the effects of music during exercise has been done for years. In 1911, an American researcher, Leonard Ayres, found that cyclists pedaled faster while listening to music than they did in silence.

This happens because listening to music can drown out our brain’s cries of fatigue. As our body realizes we’re tired and wants to stop exercising, it sends signals to the brain to stop for a break. Listening to music competes for our brain’s attention, and can help us to override those signals of fatigue, though this is mostly beneficial for low- and moderate-intensity exercise. During high-intensity exercise, music isn’t as powerful at pulling our brain’s attention away from the pain of the workout.

Not only can we push through the pain to exercise longer and harder when we listen to music, but it can actually help us to use our energy more efficiently. A 2012 study showed that cyclists who listened to music required 7% less oxygen to do the same work as those who cycled in silence.

Some recent research has shown that there’s a ceiling effect on music at around 145 bpm, where anything higher doesn’t seem to add much motivation, so keep that in mind when choosing your workout playlist.

We all have a genre; for those wondering what is that actually it is a category of artistic, musical, or literary composition characterized by a particular style, form, or content

“The kind of music one listens to determines one’s reaction to it. No genre is harmful, but there is a preferable choice in different situations. For instance, studies have found that percussion stimulates the left side of the brain, so if one were solving Mathematics problems, or having to reach a logical conclusion, that music would be beneficial. Similarly, for an artiste, instrumental music or Soul would work better,” explains Khurana.

According to Dr Shaan Manohar, ENT specialist, Nanavati Hospital, “Japan has done a study on applying music to water as it freezes and check the patterns of crystals formed. It was concluded that loud drumbeats and music with violent poetry tend to have a destructive effect on the crystals versus Classical music, soft love tracks or devotional lyrics had an enhancing effect on the crystal formation. Loud drumbeats are also known to interfere with the pace of the heart in the very young and the elderly. It is a known fact that listening to Classical music enhances the mathematical ability of a growing child. Also, chanting helps release endorphins in the body creating a calm person, full of positive energy.”

QUOTE FOR THURSDAY:

“The brain controls many aspects of thinking—remembering, planning and organizing, making decisions, and much more. These cognitive abilities affect how well we do everyday tasks and whether we can live independently.”

NIH National Institute on Aging

How aging affects the human brain and our thinking.

 

  

The brain controls many aspects of thinking—remembering, planning and organizing, making decisions, and much more. These cognitive abilities affect how well we do everyday tasks and whether we can live independently.

Some changes in thinking are common as people get older. For example, older adults may have:

  • Increased difficulty finding words and recalling names
  • More problems with multi-tasking
  • Mild decreases in the ability to pay attention

Aging may also bring positive cognitive changes. People often have more knowledge and insight from a lifetime of experiences. Research shows that older adults can still:

  • Learn new things
  • Create new memories
  • Improve vocabulary and language skills

The Older, Healthy Brain

As a person gets older, changes occur in all parts of the body, including the brain.

  • Certain parts of the brain shrink, especially those important to learning and other complex mental activities.
  • In certain brain regions, communication between neurons (nerve cells) can be reduced.
  • Blood flow in the brain may also decrease.
  • Inflammation, which occurs when the body responds to an injury or disease, may increase.

These changes in the brain can affect mental function, even in healthy older people. For example, some older adults find that they don’t do as well as younger people on complex memory or learning tests. Given enough time, though, they can do as well. There is growing evidence that the brain remains “plastic”—able to adapt to new challenges and tasks—as people age.

It is not clear why some people think well as they get older while others do not. One possible reason is “cognitive reserve,” the brain’s ability to work well even when some part of it is disrupted. People with more education seem to have more cognitive reserve than others.

Some brain changes, like those associated with Alzheimer’s disease, are NOT a normal part of aging. Talk with your healthcare provider if you are concerned.

Brain Regions

The brain is complex and has many specialized parts. For example, the two halves of the brain, called cerebral hemispheres, are responsible for intelligence.

The cerebral hemispheres have an outer layer called the cerebral cortex. This region, the brain’s “gray matter,” is where the brain processes sensory information, such as what we see and hear. The cerebral cortex also controls movement and regulates functions such as thinking, learning, and remembering.

For more information about parts of the brain, see Know Your Brain from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, part of the National Institutes of Health.

How Brain Cells Work

The healthy human brain contains many different types of cells. Neurons are nerve cells that process and send information throughout the brain, and from the brain to the muscles and organs of the body.

The ability of neurons to function and survive depends on three important processes:

  • Communication. When a neuron receives signals from other neurons, it generates an electrical charge. This charge travels to the synapse, a tiny gap where chemicals called neurotransmitters are released and move across to another neuron.
  • Metabolism. This process involves all chemical reactions that take place in a cell to support its survival and function. These reactions require oxygen and glucose, which are carried in blood flowing through the brain.
  • Repair, remodeling, and regeneration. Neurons live a long time—more than 100 years in humans. As a result, they must constantly maintain and repair themselves. In addition, some brain regions continue to make new neurons.

Other types of brain cells, called glial cells, play critical roles in supporting neurons. In addition, the brain has an enormous network of blood vessels. Although the brain is only 2 percent of the body’s weight, it receives 20 percent of the body’s blood supply.

QUOTE FOR WEDNESDAY:

“An overactive thyroid gland (hyperthyroidism) can cause a fast heartbeat, trouble sleeping, and weight loss. In some people, the condition may trigger the heart rhythm disorder known as atrial fibrillation.”

HarvardMedicalSchool (www.health.harvard.edu)

Part III Thyroid Disease Awareness Month-Hyperthyroidism

Hyperthyroidism is predominantly a women disorder, & prevalence of approximately 0.6% among women. Graves disease is the most common cause of hyperthyroidism.

Hyperthyroidism, also called overactive thyroid, is when the thyroid gland makes more thyroid hormones than your body needs. The thyroid is a small, butterfly-shaped gland in the front of your neck. Thyroid hormones control the way the body uses energy, so they affect nearly every organ in your body, even the way your heart beats.

Possible Causes of Hyperthyroidism:

Hyperthyroidism has several causes, including Graves’ disease, thyroid nodules, and thyroiditis—inflammation of the thyroid. Rarely, hyperthyroidism is caused by a noncancerous tumor of the pituitary gland located at the base of the brain. Consuming too much iodine or taking too much thyroid hormone medicine also may raise your thyroid hormone levels.

-Graves’ disease

Graves’ disease is the most common cause of hyperthyroidism. Graves’ disease is an autoimmune disorder. With this disease, your immune system attacks the thyroid and causes it to make too much thyroid hormone.

-Overactive thyroid nodules

Thyroid nodules are lumps in your thyroid. Thyroid nodules are common and usually benign, meaning they are not cancerous. However, one or more nodules may become overactive and produce too much thyroid hormone. The presence of many overactive nodules occurs most often in older adults.

-Thyroiditis

Thyroiditis is inflammation of your thyroid that causes stored thyroid hormone to leak out of your thyroid gland. The hyperthyroidism may last for up to 3 months, after which your thyroid may become underactive, a condition called hypothyroidism. The hypothyroidism usually lasts 12 to 18 months, but sometimes is permanent.

Several types of thyroiditis can cause hyperthyroidism and then cause hypothyroidism:

  • Subacute thyroiditis. This condition involves a painfully inflamed and enlarged thyroid. Experts are not sure what causes subacute thyroiditis, but it may be related to an infection caused by a virus or bacteria.
  • Postpartum thyroiditis. This type of thyroiditis develops after a woman gives birth.
  • Silent thyroiditis. This type of thyroiditis is called “silent” because it is painless, even though your thyroid may be enlarged. Experts think silent thyroiditis is probably an autoimmune condition.

-Too much iodine

Your thyroid uses iodine to make thyroid hormone. The amount of iodine you consume affects the amount of thyroid hormone your thyroid makes. In some people, consuming large amounts of iodine may cause the thyroid to make too much thyroid hormone.

Some medicines and cough syrups may contain a lot of iodine. One example is the heart medicine amiodarone. Seaweed and seaweed-based supplements also contain a lot of iodine.

-Too much thyroid hormone medicine:

Some people who take thyroid hormone medicine for hypothyroidism may take too much. If you take thyroid hormone medicine, you should see your doctor at least once a year to have your thyroid hormone levels checked. You may need to adjust your dose if your thyroid hormone level is too high.

Some other medicines may also interact with thyroid hormone medicine to raise hormone levels. If you take thyroid hormone medicine, ask your doctor about interactions when starting new medicines.

How do doctors diagnose hyperthyroidism?

Your doctor will take a medical history and do a physical exam, but also will need to do some tests to confirm a diagnosis of hyperthyroidism. Many symptoms of hyperthyroidism are the same as those of other diseases, so doctors usually can’t diagnose hyperthyroidism based on symptoms alone.

Because hypothyroidism can cause fertility problems, women who have trouble getting pregnant often get tested for thyroid problems.

Your doctor may use several blood tests to confirm a diagnosis of hyperthyroidism and find its cause. Imaging tests, such as a thyroid scan, can also help diagnose and find the cause of hyperthyroidism.

It can also cause a wide variety of signs and symptoms:

  • Hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid) is a condition in which your thyroid gland produces too much of the hormone thyroxine. Hyperthyroidism can accelerate your body’s metabolism significantly, causing sudden weight loss, a rapid or irregular heartbeat, sweating, and nervousness or irritability.
  • Sudden weight loss, even when your appetite and the amount and type of food you eat remain the same or even increase
  • Rapid heartbeat (tachycardia) — commonly more than 100 beats a minute — irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia) or pounding of your heart (palpitations)
  • Increased appetite
  • Nervousness, anxiety and irritability
  • Tremor — usually a fine trembling in your hands and fingers
  • Sweating
  • Changes in menstrual patterns
  • Increased sensitivity to heat
  • Changes in bowel patterns, especially more frequent bowel movements
  • An enlarged thyroid gland (goiter), which may appear as a swelling at the base of your neck
  • Fatigue, muscle weakness
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Skin thinning
  • Fine, brittle hair
  • Graves’ ophthalmopathy=An autoimmune disease that is frequently associated with hyperthyroidism.
  • Sometimes an uncommon problem called Graves’ ophthalmopathy may affect your eyes, especially if you smoke. In this disorder, your eyeballs protrude beyond their normal protective orbits when the tissues and muscles behind your eyes swell. This pushes the eyeballs forward so far that they actually bulge out of their orbits. This can cause the front surface of your eyeballs to become very dry. Eye problems often improve without treatment.Older adults are more likely to have either no signs or symptoms or subtle ones, such as an increased heart rate, heat intolerance and a tendency to become tired during ordinary activities. Medications called beta blockers, which are used to treat high blood pressure and other conditions, can mask many of the signs of hyperthyroidism.
  • Protruding eyeballs
  • Red or swollen eyes
  • Excessive tearing or discomfort in one or both eyes
  • Light sensitivity, blurry or double vision, inflammation, or reduced eye movementIf you experience unexplained weight loss, a rapid heartbeat, unusual sweating, swelling at the base of your neck or other symptoms associated with hyperthyroidism, see your doctor. It’s important to completely describe the changes you’ve observed, because many signs and symptoms of hyperthyroidism may be associated with a number of other conditions.Causes:  A number of conditions, including Graves’ disease, toxic adenoma, Plummer’s disease (toxic multi-nodular goiter) and thyroiditis, can cause hyperthyroidism.What other health problems could I have because of hyperthyroidism?If hyperthyroidism isn’t treated, it can cause some serious health problems, including:
    • an irregular heartbeat that can lead to blood clots, stroke, heart failure, and other heart-related problems
    • an eye disease called Graves’ ophthalmopathy that can cause double vision, light sensitivity, and eye pain, and rarely can lead to vision loss
    • thinning bones and osteoporosis

When to go to the Doctor:

Any of these signs or symptoms listed above you have that where never checked out by the doctor or if the new symptom (s) just recently started and where never diagnosed by the MD.  If you’ve been treated for hyperthyroidism or currently are being treated, see your doctor regularly as advised so that he or she can monitor your condition.  Also, if you are at a age that makes you in a age group that is more common to have this disease than have your MD check you out to see if you have the disease.

Risk factors:

Hyperthyroidism, particularly Graves’ disease, tends to run in families and is more common in women than in men. If another member of your family has a thyroid condition, talk with your doctor about what this may mean for your health with what you need to do.

Several treatment options are available if you have hyperthyroidism:

Several treatments for hyperthyroidism exist. The best approach for you depends on your age, physical condition, the underlying cause of the hyperthyroidism, personal preference and the severity of your disorder:

  • Radioactive iodine. Taken by mouth, radioactive iodine is absorbed by your thyroid gland, where it causes the gland to shrink and symptoms to subside, usually within three to six months. Because this treatment causes thyroid activity to slow considerably, causing the thyroid gland to be underactive (hypothyroidism), you may eventually need to take medication every day to replace thyroxine. Used for more than 60 years to treat hyperthyroidism, radioactive iodine has been shown to be generally safe.
  • Anti-thyroid medications. These medications gradually reduce symptoms of hyperthyroidism by preventing your thyroid gland from producing excess amounts of hormones. They include propylthiouracil and methimazole (Tapazole). Symptoms usually begin to improve in six to 12 weeks, but treatment with anti-thyroid medications typically continues at least a year and often longer. For some people, this clears up the problem permanently, but other people may experience a relapse. Both drugs can cause serious liver damage, sometimes leading to death. Because propylthiouracil has caused far more cases of liver damage, it generally should be used only when you can’t tolerate methimazole. A small number of people who are allergic to these drugs may develop skin rashes, hives, fever or joint pain. They also can make you more susceptible to infection.
  • Beta blockers. These drugs are commonly used to treat high blood pressure. They won’t reduce your thyroid levels, but they can reduce a rapid heart rate and help prevent palpitations. For that reason, your doctor may prescribe them to help you feel better until your thyroid levels are closer to normal. Side effects may include fatigue, headache, upset stomach, constipation, diarrhea or dizziness.
  • Surgery (thyroidectomy). If you’re pregnant or otherwise can’t tolerate anti-thyroid drugs and don’t want to or can’t have radioactive iodine therapy, you may be a candidate for thyroid surgery, although this is an option in only a few cases.In a thyroidectomy, your doctor removes most of your thyroid gland. Risks of this surgery include damage to your vocal cords and parathyroid glands — four tiny glands situated on the back of your thyroid gland that help control the level of calcium in your blood. In addition, you’ll need lifelong treatment with levothyroxine (Levoxyl, Synthroid, others) to supply your body with normal amounts of thyroid hormone. If your parathyroid glands also are removed, you’ll need medication to keep your blood-calcium levels normal.

Graves’ ophthalmopathy

If Graves’ disease affects your eyes (Graves’ ophthalmopathy), you can manage mild signs and symptoms by avoiding wind and bright lights and using artificial tears and lubricating gels. If your symptoms are more severe, your doctor may recommend treatment with corticosteroids, such as prednisone, to reduce swelling behind your eyeballs. In some cases, a surgical procedure may be an option:

  • Orbital decompression surgery. In this surgery, your doctor removes the bone between your eye socket and your sinuses — the air spaces next to the eye socket. When the procedure is successful, it improves vision and provides room for your eyes to return to their normal position. But there is a risk of complications, including double vision that persists or appears after surgery.
  • Eye muscle surgery. Sometimes scar tissue from Graves’ ophthalmopathy can cause one or more eye muscles to be too short. This pulls your eyes out of alignment, leading to double vision. Eye muscle surgery may help correct double vision by cutting the affected muscle from the eyeball and reattaching it farther back. The goal is to achieve single vision when you read and look straight ahead. In some cases, you may need more than one operation to attain these results.

Although hyperthyroidism can be serious don’t ignore it, most people respond well once hyperthyroidism is diagnosed and treated. Hyperthyroidism can mimic other health problems, which may make it difficult for your doctor to diagnose.

QUOTE FOR TUESDAY:

“Women are much more likely than men to develop hypothyroidism. The disease is also more common among people older than age 60.”

NIH National Institute of Diabetes & Digestive & Kidney Diseases

PART II Thyroid Disease Awareness Month – Hypothyroidism

thyroid-awareness-month-goiter4        thyroidawarenessmonthgoiter2                                thyroid-part-ii-2

Hypothyroidism

This occurs when your thyroid produces too little thyroid hormone, a condition that is often linked to iodine deficiency.

Dr. David Brownstein, a board-certified holistic practitioner who has been working with iodine for the last two decades, claims that over 95 percent of the patients in his clinic are iodine-deficient.

In addition, 10 percent of the general population in the United States, and 20 percent of women over age 60, have subclinical hypothyroidism,2 a condition where you have no obvious symptoms and only slightly abnormal lab tests.

However, only a marginal percentage of these people are being treated. The reason behind this is the misinterpretation and misunderstanding of lab tests, particularly TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone). Most physicians believe that if your TSH value is within the “normal” range, your thyroid is fine. But as I always say, the devil is in the details. More and more physicians are now discovering that the TSH value is grossly unreliable for diagnosing hypothyroidism.

How do you know if you have Hypothyroidism:

Identifying hypothyroidism and its cause is tricky business. Many of the symptoms of hypothyroidism are vague and overlap with other disorders. Physicians often miss a thyroid problem since they rely on just a few traditional tests, leaving other clues undetected.

The most sensitive way to find out is to listen to your body. People with a sluggish thyroid usually experience:

  • Lethargy – Fatigue and lack of energy are typical signs of thyroid dysfunction. Depression has also been linked to the condition. If you’ve been diagnosed with depression, make it a point that your physician checks your thyroid levels.

It’s essential to note that not all tiredness or lack of energy can be blamed on a dysfunctional thyroid gland. Thyroid-related fatigue begins to appear when you cannot sustain energy long enough, especially when compared to a past level of fitness or ability. If your thyroid foundation is weak, sustaining energy output is going to be a challenge. You will notice you just don’t seem to have the energy to do the things like you used to.

Some of the obvious signs of thyroid fatigue include:

  • Feeling like you don’t have the energy to exercise, and typically not exercising on a consistent basis
  • A heavy or tired head, especially in the afternoon; your head is a very sensitive indicator of thyroid hormone status
  • Falling asleep as soon as you sit down when you don’t have anything to do
  • Weight gain– Easy weight gain or difficulty losing weight, despite an aggressive exercise program and watchful eating, is another indicator.
  • Rough and scaly skin and/or dry, coarse, and tangled hair– If you have perpetually dry skin that doesn’t respond well to moisturizing lotions or creams, consider hypothyroidism as a factor.
  • Hair loss– Women especially would want to pay attention to their thyroid when unexplained hair loss occurs. Fortunately, if your hair loss is due to low thyroid function, your hair will come back quickly with proper thyroid treatment.
  • Sensitivity to cold– Feeling cold all the time is also a sign of low thyroid function. Hypothyroid people are slow to warm up, even in a sauna, and don’t sweat with mild exercise.
  • Low basal temperature – Another telltale sign of hypothyroidism is a low basal body temperature (BBT), less than 97.6 degrees Fahrenheit averaged over a minimum of three days. It is best to get a BBT thermometer to assess this.

Any of these symptoms can be suggestive of an underactive thyroid. The more of these symptoms you have, the higher the likelihood that you have hypothyroidism. Furthermore, if you have someone in your family with any of these conditions, your risks of thyroid problems become higher.

When to see the doctor:

See your doctor if you’re feeling tired for no reason or have any of the other signs or symptoms of hypothyroidism, such as dry skin, a pale, puffy face, constipation or a hoarse voice.

You’ll also need to see your doctor for periodic testing of your thyroid function if you’ve had previous thyroid surgery; treatment with radioactive iodine or anti-thyroid medications; or radiation therapy to your head, neck or upper chest. However, it may take years or even decades before any of these therapies or procedures result in hypothyroidism.

If you have high blood cholesterol, talk to your doctor about whether hypothyroidism may be a cause. And if you’re receiving hormone therapy for hypothyroidism, schedule follow-up visits as often as your doctor recommends. Initially, it’s important to make sure you’re receiving the correct dose of medicine. And over time, the dose you need may change.

Causes

When your thyroid doesn’t produce enough hormones, the balance of chemical reactions in your body can be upset. There can be a number of causes, including autoimmune disease, treatment for hyperthyroidism, radiation therapy, thyroid surgery and certain medications.

Your thyroid is a small, butterfly-shaped gland situated at the base of the front of your neck, just below your Adam’s apple. Hormones produced by the thyroid gland — triiodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine (T4) — have an enormous impact on your health, affecting all aspects of your metabolism. They maintain the rate at which your body uses fats and carbohydrates, help control your body temperature, influence your heart rate, and help regulate the production of proteins.

Hypothyroidism results when the thyroid gland fails to produce enough hormones. Hypothyroidism may be due to a number of factors, including:

  • Autoimmune disease. People who develop a particular inflammatory disorder known as Hashimoto’s thyroiditis have the most common cause of hypothyroidism. Autoimmune disorders occur when your immune system produces antibodies that attack your own tissues. Sometimes this process involves your thyroid gland. Scientists aren’t sure why the body produces antibodies against itself. Some think a virus or bacterium might trigger the response, while others believe a genetic flaw may be involved. Most likely, autoimmune diseases result from more than one factor. But however it happens, these antibodies affect the thyroid’s ability to produce hormones.
  • Treatment for hyperthyroidism. People who produce too much thyroid hormone (hyperthyroidism) are often treated with radioactive iodine or anti-thyroid medications to reduce and normalize their thyroid function. However, in some cases, treatment of hyperthyroidism can result in permanent hypothyroidism.
  • Thyroid surgery. Removing all or a large portion of your thyroid gland can diminish or halt hormone production. In that case, you’ll need to take thyroid hormone for life.
  • Radiation therapy. Radiation used to treat cancers of the head and neck can affect your thyroid gland and may lead to hypothyroidism.
  • Medications. A number of medications can contribute to hypothyroidism. One such medication is lithium, which is used to treat certain psychiatric disorders. If you’re taking medication, ask your doctor about its effect on your thyroid gland.

Less often, hypothyroidism may result from one of the following:

  • Congenital disease. Some babies are born with a defective thyroid gland or no thyroid gland. In most cases, the thyroid gland didn’t develop normally for unknown reasons, but some children have an inherited form of the disorder. Often, infants with congenital hypothyroidism appear normal at birth. That’s one reason why most states now require newborn thyroid screening.
  • Pituitary disorder. A relatively rare cause of hypothyroidism is the failure of the pituitary gland to produce enough thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) — usually because of a benign tumor of the pituitary gland.
  • Pregnancy. Some women develop hypothyroidism during or after pregnancy (postpartum hypothyroidism), often because they produce antibodies to their own thyroid gland. Left untreated, hypothyroidism increases the risk of miscarriage, premature delivery and preeclampsia — a condition that causes a significant rise in a woman’s blood pressure during the last three months of pregnancy. It can also seriously affect the developing fetus.
  • Iodine deficiency. The trace mineral iodine — found primarily in seafood, seaweed, plants grown in iodine-rich soil and iodized salt — is essential for the production of thyroid hormones. In some parts of the world, iodine deficiency is common, but the addition of iodine to table salt has virtually eliminated this problem in the United States. Conversely, taking in too much iodine can cause hypothyroidism.

Risk factors

Although anyone can develop hypothyroidism, you’re at an increased risk if you:

  • Are a woman older than age 60
  • Have an autoimmune disease
  • Have a family history of thyroid disease
  • Have other autoimmune diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis or lupus, a chronic inflammatory condition
  • Have been treated with radioactive iodine or anti-thyroid medications
  • Received radiation to your neck or upper chest
  • Have had thyroid surgery (partial thyroidectomy)
  • Have been pregnant or delivered a baby within the past six months

Complications

Untreated hypothyroidism can lead to a number of health problems:

  • Goiter. Constant stimulation of your thyroid to release more hormones may cause the gland to become larger — a condition known as a goiter. Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is one of the most common causes of a goiter. Although generally not uncomfortable, a large goiter can affect your appearance and may interfere with swallowing or breathing.
  • Heart problems. Hypothyroidism may also be associated with an increased risk of heart disease, primarily because high levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol — the “bad” cholesterol — can occur in people with an underactive thyroid. Even subclinical hypothyroidism, a mild or early form of hypothyroidism in which symptoms have not yet developed, can cause an increase in total cholesterol levels and impair the pumping ability of your heart. Hypothyroidism can also lead to an enlarged heart and heart failure.
  • Mental health issues. Depression may occur early in hypothyroidism and may become more severe over time. Hypothyroidism can also cause slowed mental functioning.
  • Peripheral neuropathy. Long-term uncontrolled hypothyroidism can cause damage to your peripheral nerves — the nerves that carry information from your brain and spinal cord to the rest of your body, for example, your arms and legs. Signs and symptoms of peripheral neuropathy may include pain, numbness and tingling in the area affected by the nerve damage. It may also cause muscle weakness or loss of muscle control.
  • Myxedema. This rare, life-threatening condition is the result of long-term, undiagnosed hypothyroidism. Its signs and symptoms include intense cold intolerance and drowsiness followed by profound lethargy and unconsciousness. A myxedema coma may be triggered by sedatives, infection or other stress on your body. If you have signs or symptoms of myxedema, you need immediate emergency medical treatment.
  • Infertility. Low levels of thyroid hormone can interfere with ovulation, which impairs fertility. In addition, some of the causes of hypothyroidism — such as autoimmune disorder — can also impair fertility.
  • Birth defects. Babies born to women with untreated thyroid disease may have a higher risk of birth defects than may babies born to healthy mothers. These children are also more prone to serious intellectual and developmental problems. Infants with untreated hypothyroidism present at birth are at risk of serious problems with both physical and mental development. But if this condition is diagnosed within the first few months of life, the chances of normal development are excellent.

Treatments:

Standard treatment for hypothyroidism involves daily use of the synthetic thyroid hormone levothyroxine (Levothroid, Synthroid, others). This oral medication restores adequate hormone levels, reversing the signs and symptoms of hypothyroidism.

One to two weeks after starting treatment, you’ll notice that you’re feeling less fatigued. The medication also gradually lowers cholesterol levels elevated by the disease and may reverse any weight gain. Treatment with levothyroxine is usually lifelong, but because the dosage you need may change, your doctor is likely to check your TSH level every year.

What should I eat or avoid eating if I have hypothyroidism?

The thyroid uses iodine to make thyroid hormones. However, people with Hashimoto’s disease or other types of autoimmune thyroid disorders may be sensitive to harmful side effects from iodine. Eating foods that have large amounts of iodine—such as kelp, dulse, or other kinds of seaweed—may cause or worsen hypothyroidism. Taking iodine supplements can have the same effect.

Talk with members of your health care team about what foods you should limit or avoid, and let them know if you take iodine supplements. Also, share information about any cough syrups that you take because they may contain iodine.

Women need more iodine when they are pregnant because the baby gets iodine from the mother’s diet. If you are pregnant, talk with your health care provider about how much iodine you need.