Complications Caused by Hypothyroidism
The most common problem associated with an underactive thyroid is weight gain and difficulty in losing weight. That is just one of the many problems, some even life-threatening, that can arise from long-term hypothyroidism. Some of the complications caused by hypothyroidism that develop from the disease are easily reversed during treatment. Even those, however, can become serious when the illness is left undiagnosed or ignored.
Short-Term Treatable Complications of Hypothyroidism
Goitre: Thyroid goitres appear at the front base of the neck. It can be painful and cause problems in movement, but will disappear with treatment. Left untreated it can cause serious problems due to the location of the swelling. The pressure from thyroid goitres can press on the trachea making it difficult to breath. Pressure on the oesophagus can make it hard to swallow as well.
Peripheral Neuropathy: Circulation problems caused by hypothyroid disease can cause a loss of feeling in the limbs.
Long-Term and Possibly Permanent Complications of Untreated Thyroid Conditions
Myxedema: Myxedema is a swelling of the brain, often thought to be the adult form of cretinism caused by untreated underactive thyroid conditions. It occurs more often in women and can lead to coma and death.
Infertility: Infertility is a common problem with all forms of thyroid disease. It is reversible when treated in a timely manner, but hypothyroidism may cause permanent infertility if left untreated for long periods of time.
Cretinism: Children born with this thyroid condition can develop severe mental disabilities if the disease is not caught immediately and treated. The first year of life is the most important in the case of permanent congenital hypothyroidism. Infants lose between 3 and 5 points in IQ levels every month when the condition is undiagnosed. Treatment of congenital thyroid problems may not totally reverse the effects or stop the deterioration, and adults born with the disease often have a milder form of memory problems and the ability to process information. Slow thyroid problems developed after the age of 2 is not known to cause retardation in children.
Dementia and Delirium: While the immediate effects of delirium are usually reversed with treatment, there can be long term memory and concentration problems resulting from untreated or delayed treatment of hypothyroidism.
Peripheral Conditions Caused by an Underactive Thyroid
Birth Defects: Children born to mothers who have untreated underactive thyroid conditions are more likely to be born with birth defects.
The most effective way to prevent serious complications from thyroid disease is to seek medical attention as soon as you notice any symptoms associated with the disease.
If you have questions or concerns about thyroid problems or any other complications caused by hypohypothyroidism see your local doctor who will arrange for you to see a thyroid surgeon.