Hypothyroidism is a condition in which the amount of thyroid hormones produced by the body is not adequate. Thyroid hormones play an important role in regulating metabolic rates and energy levels in the body. Thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3) are the two major hormones produced by the thyroid glands.
Hypothyroidism is a heritable condition, and thus a family history of this disease increases the risk of developing hypothyroidism. One of the most common forms of hypothyroidism, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, is found to run in families. Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is an autoimmune disorder characterized by the destruction of tissues in thyroid glands. Thyroid tissues are destroyed by the presence of antibodies, known as anti-thyroid antibodies. It is noted that parents with Hashimoto’s disease have children with anti-thyroid antibodies, even when they do not have any notable symptoms of the condition. Two genes, CTLA4 and PTPN2, are associated with the development of this condition.
Some children are born with hypothyroidism, a condition called congenital hypothyroidism. This is more commonly seen in those who have family members with the condition. Some children are born without thyroid glands, while some have underdeveloped thyroid glands, both of which result in hypothyroidism. In some children, the thyroid gland does not produce enough hormones, even when it is fully developed.
Prevention of Genetic Hypothyroidism
A person with a family history of hypothyroidism has an increased risk of developing the condition. But, there are no sure-fire ways to prevent hypothyroidism in these people. The risk of becoming hypothyroid can be reduced by consuming a well-balanced diet. Ensure you consume an adequate amount of iodine. Exercise and managing stress also helps reduce the risk of this condition.
Symptoms of Hereditary Hypothyroidism
If a person is at high risk of developing hypothyroidism due to family history, look out for the following symptoms:
- Fatigue and weakness
- Feeling cold even when others are warm
- Dry skin
- Weight gain
- Hoarse voice
- Swelling of the legs
If the person has the above-mentioned symptoms, visit a physician to check for the presence of hypothyroidism.
Treatment for Hereditary Hypothyroidism
The most common method of treatment of hypothyroidism is hormone therapy, using a synthetic thyroid hormone called levothyroxine. After you start therapy, the blood levels of the thyroid hormone are re-evaluated to ensure that the dosage is appropriate. Each person may need a different dosage. depending on the need of the specific body. The dosage should not be too little or too much, as both conditions may cause symptoms. In patients with heart diseases, the initial dosage of thyroid hormone given is low and then gradually increased.
Dosages of synthetic thyroxine are individualized and a re-evaluation of the thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) level in blood is needed to adjust the dosage of medication. Once established, this dosage requires an annual re-evaluation. In some patients, deciding the most appropriate dosage of medication is difficult and may require frequent tests. Some patients may not respond well to one thyroid medication when compared to other. Hence, each patient should discuss the status of their symptoms with a doctor after initiation of treatment.
In most of the cases, the symptoms start improving within first few weeks of initiating hormone therapy and completely disappear within few months. Response to thyroxine treatment may be delayed in older adults and those with other medical conditions.
- Hypothyroidism is a heritable condition, and thus a family history of this disease increases the risk of hypothyroidism.
- There are no sure shot ways to prevent hypothyroidism in these people.
- The most common method of treatment of hypothyroidism is hormone therapy using synthetic thyroid hormone, levothyroxine.