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2016
Jan-29
Subclinical hypothyroidism
By Dr. Ajish. T.P| 0 Comments

The thyroid gland produces thyroid hormones and secretes them into the bloodstream. When more thyroid hormone is required by the body, the pituitary gland stimulates the thyroid gland to release more hormones into the blood. The pituitary does this by secreting a hormone called Thyroid Stimulating Hormone or TSH.

 For certain patients,the thyroid gland fails to maintain adequate levels of thyroid hormone despite maximal stimulation by the pituitary. This is called overt hypothyroidism.
A less known and often underdiagnosed entity is what is now known as Subclinical Hypothyroidism, where the thyroid gland does maintain adequate blood levels of thyroid hormone, but at the cost of persistently high stimulation by the pituitary gland. In general, it is estimated that around 1 in 10 individuals could be suffering from this condition.

So is this significant? Should we be bothered when the thyroid hormone levels are maintained within normal limits, even if the TSH levels are persistently high?

Recent research has shown that we should. Subclinical Hypothyroidism puts patients at an increased risk of heart disease, infertility, diabetes, progression to overt hypothyroidism, depression and so on. In fact, The American Thyroid Association has gone as far as to recommend that all patients with increased cholesterol levels be screened for thyroid dysfunction.
As awareness about Subclinical Hypothyroidism increases, it is predicted that more cases will be diagnosed and therefore the overall prevalence may be much higher than estimated at present. While this might seem alarming, it also means that more patients will get prompt treatment.
This could be of great benefit to many patients diagnosed with seemingly unrelated disorders who fail to respond to conventional treatment. Diagnosing Subclinical Hypothyroidism could prevent years of frustration and failed treatment regimens for scores of patients, thus underlining the importance of greater awareness regarding this entity.

 

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