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What Is Hypothyroidism?

Under activity of the thyroid gland is called as the hypothyroidism. Thyroid gland is found in the neck and produces two hormones -- T3 and T4. Their main function is to control the metabolism. In hypothyroidism, these hormones are under-secreted. Hypothyroidism may be congenital, that is since child birth, or acquired, that is acquired later in the life.

Children suffering from acquired hypothyroidism are generally seen to be suffering from other autoimmune disorders also, like diabetes mellitus. Small children and infants, which are suffering from this condition, might have serious growth and development problems later in their lives.

In older children and adults, hypothyroidism can cause a variety of problems and symptoms like slowing of heart rate, chronic tiredness, inability to tolerate cold, mental fatigue, difficulty in learning and constipation. It is estimated, that one in every 4000 newborns suffer from hypothyroidism (consensus in North America ). Out of these born, 10% have it only as a temporary condition. Hypothyroidism is more commonly seen in girls than in the boys.

Causes of Hypothyroidism

A majority of cases of hypothyroidism are a direct result of malfunctioning within the thyroid gland or its complete absence. The rest minority cases are caused by brain or pituitary gland. It is also seen, especially in the developing world, that iodine deficiency also becomes the cause for hypothyroidism in both, the mother and the baby.

Several causes for the congenital hypothyroidism, that is one acquired since birth, are -- developmental abnormalities of thyroid gland of the baby while in the womb, genetic abnormalities leading to the situation, iodine deficiency, pituitary gland inefficiency etc. in cases of acquired hypothyroidism, it is generally seen that when the immune system starts attacking the gland, during or after a viral infection, this condition arises.

Symptoms of Hypothyroidism

Some of the symptoms shown by this condition called hypothyroidism are -- failure to thrive, feeding problems, prolonged jaundice, constipation, pale cold dry skin, large tongue, hoarse cry, goiter (rare), umbilical hernia, delayed development and an unusual facial appearance. In the cases of acquired hypothyroidism, the symptoms may differ slightly.

For example, these cases will show symptoms like short stature, dislike of the cold, thin dry hair, slow pulse, pale puffy eyes with loss of eyebrows, slow reflexes, obesity, delayed puberty, depression and learning difficulties. Despite these, the age of the child decided what symptoms will appear and when.

In cases of infants and new borns, for example, the symptoms shown are different. These are - prolonged newborn jaundice, poor feeding and constipation, cool, mottled skin, increased sleepiness, decreased crying, larger-than-normal soft spots on the skull, umbilical hernia, large tongue.

Diagnosing Hypothyroidism

Usually, the symptoms of the condition itself speak for themselves. Other than this, a blood test can be performed in order to make a check for the hypothyroidism.

Treatment of Hypothyroidism

An early diagnosis and proper treatment administered in time can help your child in future. Hypothyroidism is generally treated by replacing the thyroid hormone called thyroxin. Thyroxin can be found as a tablet and is a lifetime treatment, that is, one has to take this medicine throughout their lives.

Depending on the root cause also, one can administer the treatment. For example, in cases of iodine deficiency causing hypothyroidism, providing iodine supplements is all that is required. Simply providing the body with the hormone in deficiency is the basic formula of treating hypothyroidism.

However, this is not a one time treatment. The child needs to undergo a complete check-up every year as the dosage and requirement of the hormone varies depending on the age of the child.

Is Hypothyroidism In Children Serious?

Maintaining the normal levels of hormones in the body is vital for the growth and development of the child. However, if taken lightly, the child might get effected leading to some serious and at times, permanent developmental hazards.

This is especially important in the case of infants. The treatment should be administered in the first month of their life in order to prevent any irreversible damage. However, if the treatment is delayed, permanent growth problems or even mental retardation might result from it.

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#1 - Catherine - 02/28/2016 - 00:34
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