Thyroid hormone is an essential hormone in the body. It affects many physiological functions of the body. In children, it affects the growth and development of the brain and body. If the level of thyroid hormone is decreased (that is you develop hypothyroidism), your body gets affected. It can cause symptoms such as tiredness, fatigue, depression, dry skin and brittle nails, not being able to stand the cold (cold intolerance), constipation, memory problems or having trouble thinking clearly, heavy or irregular menstrual periods etc. Hypothyroidism is a preventable cause of mental retardation in children.
Prognosis of hypothyroidism
Symptoms develop and progress slowly. Most patients with mild hypothyroidism may have no signs or symptoms. Signs and symptoms become apparent mostly when the condition worsens. Being watchful of the symptoms can help to diagnose the condition early and treat it appropriately.
Hypothyroidism cannot be cured, but is easy to treat. Most of the patients can be managed appropriately with medications though most people with hypothyroidism need life-long medications. Treatment for hypothyroidism is very successful as each dose of synthetic thyroxine is active and available for the body for a very long time (about 7 days). Therefore, the level of T4 in your blood remains steady and this gives a constant supply of T4 to your body’s cells.
People with very severe hypothyroidism may develop a life-threatening coma known as myxedema coma if they are not treated. In most cases of severe hypothyroidism, myxedema coma is triggered by severe illness, surgery, stress or traumatic injury. Unlike most people with hypothyroidism, who can be treated on outpatient basis with oral medications, a person with myxedema coma requires hospitalisation and immediate treatment with thyroid hormones given by injection.
If hypothyroidism is not diagnosed and treated in children, it can lead to impairment of growth and development of brain and body. Hypothyroidism is a common and preventable cause of mental retardation in children.