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Thyroid disorder can occur as a primary gland disfunction or in result to an associated hormone. It is important to understand the cause of the thyroid disorder for proper treatment and follow up. The content of this post will discuss hypothyroidism, which is the most common thyroid disorder diagnosed. Most commonly seen in women, but men also suffer from the disease process. Hypothyroidism may occur as primary disfunction of the gland or in relation to a secondary cause (Roberts & Ladenson, 2004).
Hypothyroidism occurs when there is a low level of thyroid hormone (TH). Most commonly this is occurs as a autoimmune response of the body, autoimmune thyroiditis. The thyroid tissue becomes inflamed when T lymphocytes and thyroid autoantibodies are infiltrated. The inflammation destroys viable thyroid tissue. This can be a genetic response. Hypothyroidism can also occur due a secondary response (Huether & McCance, 2017, p. 469).
Hypothyroidism is diagnosed after looking at the clinical presentation of the patient and after measuring TH levels in the blood. Hormone replacement is achieved when the patient takes levothyroxine. Dosages are determined by looking at the patient’s age, the severity, and other active disease processes (Huether & McCance, 2017, p. 469).
Medication compliance is essential as hypothyroidism is managed. Individuals with hypothyroidism can live normal lives as long as their treatment plan is followed and medications are taken as prescribed. Other exciting patient factors can affect compliance. Depression for example can prevent patients from taking medications as prescribed. When this happens, providers may believe that a higher dosage of medication is needed to alleviate the patient’s other symptoms. When diagnosing and working with patients with a mental health disorder it is imperative to have a close, understanding relationship when adjusting and prescribing medications (Sevinc & Savli, 2004).
Preventing Negative Side Effects
Hypothyroidism is usually develops over a period of time. Patients usually experience a low level of energy as their metabolism decreases. Lethargy and cold intolerance also follows the disease process. Because TH production is less, thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) tries to compensate and increases. An increase amount of TSH can cause goiter, myxedema, and even myxedema coma. Myxedema coma is a medical emergency because the patient will be experiencing lethargy, low blood pressure, hypoventilation, low blood sugar, acidosis, and hypothermia without compensation. Often times, elderly patients get their symptoms confused with aging. It is important to remember no signs of hypothyroidism are a normal part of aging (Huether & McCance, 2017, p. 469).
Huether, S. E., & McCance, K. L. (2017). Understanding pathophysiology (6th ed.). St. Louis, MO: Mosby.
Roberts, C. P., & Ladenson, P. W. (2004). Hypothyroidism. Lancet (London, England), 363(9411), 793-803.
Sevinc, A., & Savli, H. (2004). Hypothyroidism masquerading as depression: The role of noncompliance. Journal Of The National Medical Association, 96(3), 379-382.