Hypothyroidism, if left untreated or poorly controlled, can progress and cause some serious complications. When you understand the symptoms and get regular screenings, it will help prevent the onset of the complications.
Goiter - When your thyroid overworks itself to produce an adequate amount of hormones, the extreme stimulation may cause the gland to become bigger in size to the point where you can see it around your neck. This is known as a goiter.
Heart Problems – Hypothyroidism, even when it is mild, can affect your heart. An underactive thyroid can increase your risk of developing heart disease because it increases levels of "bad" cholesterol (HDL). When the bad cholesterol increases, it can lead to atherosclerosis - the hardening of the arteries that can increase your risk of heart attacks and strokes. Decreased thyroid hormones can also cause a buildup of fluid around the heart which may cause the heart to struggle to pump blood.
Mental Health Issues - If poorly controlled, hypothyroidism can start affecting your mental health. Even just mild hypothyroidism can cause a mild form of depression and, if left untreated, the symptoms can become worse. It can become quite serious if left unchecked for a long period of time. Over time, if not properly treated, it can result in a gradual decrease in mental functioning.
Myxedema – This is a medical term used to describe extreme hypothyroidism, particularly when the disorder has progressed for a long time without treatment. Myxedema can ultimately slow your metabolism down to the point where you would fall into a coma which may be life-threatening. If you experience symptoms of myxedema, such as extreme fatigue or cold intolerance, seek medical attention immediately.
The key to preventing all these complications is to adhere to treatment and keep the disease under control. Hypothyroidism is manageable. With the right treatment you can lead a normal life.
Written by Dr Ruusa Shivute | Health Window
Reference: Persani L. Clinical review: Central hypothyroidism: pathogenic, diagnostic, and therapeutic challenges. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2012 Sep;97(9):3068-78