The Thyroid is probably the most important gland in the human body. The proper functioning of the gland is crucial to kids. But, sometimes an underactive thyroid gland can lead to disorders and cause Hypothyroidism.
And, if you were looking for some information about Hypothyroidism, you’ve landed on the right page. Here, we talk about Hypothyroidism and how it affects children:
What Is A Thyroid?
Before we tell you more about Hypothyroidism, let’s give you an overview of the thyroid gland. The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland located in the neck. It is a ductless gland and secretes hormones that are essential for the following:
- Proper growth and development of the body
- Normal Heart Rate
- To control body weight
- To regulate the body temperature
- The two most important hormones that the thyroid gland secretes include:
- Thyroxine or T4
- Triiodothyronine or T3
The thyroid acts as a thermostat for the body i.e. it maintains the normal temperature of the body. If it produces a larger amount of T3 and T4 hormones, then the body temperature rises. On the contrary, if it produces lower than the normal amount of hormones, then the body temperature dips.
What Is A Thyroid Disorder?
Sometimes, the thyroid gland does not function properly, and the hormone production is abnormal. In such a case, your kid may suffer from a Thyroid disorder. Thyroid disorders are usually of two types:
What Is Hypothyroidism In Children?
Hypothyroidism is a disorder, in which the thyroid gland is underactive i.e. it doesn’t make enough hormones for the proper functioning of the body. Hypothyroidism is categorized as an endocrine disorder.
Causes Of Hypothyroidism In Children:
Hypothyroidism can develop due to a myriad of causes, and we list the major ones here:
1. Autoimmune Diseases:
Autoimmune diseases occur when the body starts producing antibodies against its tissues. As a result, the tissues of the body get destroyed. Although quite rare, it is a serious condition. The autoimmune reaction of the body produces antibodies that start destroying the thyroid gland. As a result, the child suffers from Hypothyroidism.
2. Radiation Therapy:
If your child was suffering from cancer in his upper body and opted for a radiation treatment for the same, then it is highly likely that he might develop Hypothyroidism after or during the treatment. Radiation treatments for cancer like Chemotherapy, cause permanent Hypothyroidism because such radiations affect the thyroid gland directly.
3. Thyroid Surgery:
If your child underwent a surgery wherein a large portion of his Thyroid gland was removed, then he is at a higher risk of developing Hypothyroidism. In such cases, the gland stops or lowers hormone production, which leads to permanent Hypothyroidism condition. The patient thus has to take thyroid hormones for his entire life.
Many medicines can also cause Hypothyroidism. For instance, Lithium that is used to treat many psychiatric disorders, but it can lead to Hypothyroidism in some cases. Talk to your doctor about potentially harmful medications.
5. Hyperthyroidism Treatment:
This is probably the rarest cause of Hypothyroidism. But, kids with hyperthyroidism can also contract Hypothyroidism. As doctor use radio-active iodine and medicines to treat hyperthyroidism, it can damage the thyroid gland, and lead to permanent Hypothyroidism.
[ Read: Thyroid Cancer In Children ]
Symptoms Of Hypothyroidism In Children:
The symptoms of Hypothyroidism vary in the intensity and the effect of the condition. Your child will exhibit different symptoms from other patients as the symptoms are unique to every individual. But, we have listed some common tell-tale symptoms of the condition here:
- Low energy levels
- Puffy appearance
- Weight gain
- Poor Appetite
- Hoarse voice
- Droopy eyelids
- Tiredness and fatigue
- Delayed Puberty
- In case of females, irregular menstrual cycles
- Slow or poor growth rate
- Muscle soreness
- Brittle hair and dry skin
- Delayed growth of teeth
- Short stature due to poor development
- Increased sensitivity to cold temperature
- Impaired or poor memory
- Protruding and large tongue
- Slowed down heart rate
- Poor Growth
However, many of the above symptoms are similar to that of other disorders. So, make sure you consult the pediatrician and get your kid to take all the necessary tests to check for Hypothyroidism before opting for any line of treatment.
[ Read: Autoimmune Diseases In Children ]
What Is Congenital Hypothyroidism?
A congenital disease is something that children are born with, and in some cases, children can suffer from congenital Hypothyroidism. Although, it is again difficult to determine an exact reason, here are some probable causes:
- Under-developed thyroid gland
- A child might be born without a thyroid gland
- Thyroid gland might not produce enough hormones
Diagnosing Hypothyroidism In Children:
Normally doctors suggest a blood test to detect thyroid disorders in the body. The pathologist will extract some blood from the body and test it for both the T3 and T4 hormones.
Another method to diagnose a Thyroid disorder is by assessing the bone age of the child.
[ Read: Hives In Children ]
Treating Hypothyroidism In Children:
It is rather important to treat a child for Hypothyroidism, as it can affect the quality of his life, and hinder his growth and development. Here, we list some common treatment methods:
- The doctor might suggest hormone replacement therapy for your child.
- In some cases, the doctor will suggest medicines to cure the condition of Hypothyroidism.
Normally, children are born with Hypothyroidism. But, the symptoms begin to fade soon. However, some kids aren’t as lucky, and the disorder persists and intensifies. Thus, it becomes important to seek medical advice as soon as possible.
Hypothyroidism is easily curable, and symptoms reduce over the period. Also, in some cases, afflicted children continue to take medicines or pills to lead a normal healthy life.
What are your thoughts on Hyperthyroidism in children? Tell us here.
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