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Your thyroid gland, located in the neck region, is an important member of your endocrine system. It produces a vital hormone--thyroid-- that regulates your metabolismand helps your body function properly. But if this gland secretes too much or too less amount of thyroid, then you are in trouble. Tests measuring your Thyroid stimulating Hormone (TSH) and Thyroxine (T4) levels in the blood tell your doctor whether or not your thyroid gland is functioning properly. When the thyroid gland is overactive and producing too many hormones, your pituitary gland secretes less TSH. This is a case of hyperthyroidism. But when your thyroid gland is underactive, producing less hormone, then your pituitary gland releases a lot of TSH. This condition is known as hypothyroidism. "The ideal level of TSH in the blood of a healthy adult should be below 5 mIU/L. However, for pregnant women, the ideal level is less than 3 mIU/L," says endocrinologist Dr. Ritesh Gupta, Additional Director, Fortis C-DOC Hospital.
TSH levels above 10mIU/L indicates hypothyroidism. But there exists a condition between normal thyroid function and hypothyroidism. "If the TSH level hovers between 5mIU/L to and 10mIU/L, then we can call it subclinical hypothyroidism," says Dr. Gupta. This condition is sometimes hard to detect, as it hardly shows any symptoms and evidences suggest that women are more at risk of developing subclinical hypothyroidism than men. However, if you are suffering from hypothyroidism, there are lots of symptoms such as fatigue, constipation, weight gain, loss of appetite and mood bouts among others. However, in subclinical hypothyroidism, the patient is relatively okay and doesn t show any symptoms. But this apparently asymptomatic condition may affect your health in more ways than one. Don't leave it untreated once it is diagnosed.
Amps up your risk of cardiovascular issues
A growing body of research suggests that not treating high TSH levels in your body can increase the risk of high blood pressure, high cholesterol and congestive heart failure. According to a study published in JAMA Internal Medicine, elderly men and women having TSH levels in excess of 7.0 mIU/L were twice at risk of having a congestive heart failure as compared to individuals having normal TSH level.
Impacts overall development in kids
Left untreated in kids, subclinical hypothyroidism may affect the mental as well as physical development of your child. It can also lead to low bone strength in them. "However, in adults over 40 suffering from a slightly high level of subclinical hypothyroidism without any symptom, we do not recommend any treatment, says Dr. Gupta.
Threatens the health of your foetus
If you are diagnosed with borderline hypothyroidism during pregnancy, and the condition is left untreated, then it can affect your baby s health, leading to birth defects and mental retardation as well. It is important to manage your thyroid hormone levels for the development of the foetal brain and nervous system.
According to a 2017 study published in the British Medical Journal, pregnant women who were treated for having TSH levels between 4.5 and 10 mIU/L were at a lesser risk of miscarriage than those who were not under treatment for the condition. In addition to this, subclinical hypothyroidism can also affect your fertility. Low thyroid levels affect your ovulation capacity. A research published in the Journal of Pregnancy revealed that women suffering from subclinical hypothyroidism found it more difficult to conceive than those without the condition.
Elevates your risk of type 2 diabetes
A study published in the journal BMC Medicine found that people suffering from prediabetes (slightly higher than normal blood sugar levels) who had a mildly underactive thyroid gland (subclinical hypothyroidism) had a 13 per cent higher risk of developing full-blown type 2 diabetes.
Impairs your cognitive function
According to an Italian study published in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism old people younger than 75 years of age) with subclinical hypothyroidism, were at a 56 per cent increased risk of impaired brain function. Their risk of getting dementia was also found to be elevated by 81 per cent.
Increases the numbers on your weighing scale
If you re suffering from subclinical hypothyroidism, you may experience unexplained weight gain without altering your workout routine or food habits. The cause could be an out-of-whack metabolic function, triggered by an underactive thyroid gland.
Makes you feel fatigued
Even if you do not change your routine, you may still feel more tired than usual performing regular activities. Studies have shown that fatigue and impaired functional status are associated with subclinical hypothyroidism.
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