Hypothyroidism and Anemia: An Important Link to Consider

Doctor speaking to female patient about hypothyroidism

Hypothyroidism is the condition of having an underactive thyroid. It results when a person’s thyroid gland isn’t producing enough hormones to keep the body functioning as it should.

Having too little of the thyroid hormone can make someone feel tired, cold, dry, constipated, forgetful, and even depressed. The condition can also cause other serious medical conditions, such as anemia. Unfortunately, there is no definitive cure for hypothyroidism, but there are ways to manage it and help the condition be less severe.

Here is an explanation of the link between hypothyroidism and anemia and how this condition can lead to a severe iron deficiency.

Hypothyroidism Symptoms

Based on how severe a person’s hormone deficiency is, a range of symptoms can present themselves. The symptoms are often barely noticeable at first but develop and multiply over time. Some of the early warning signs of hypothyroidism are weight gain and fatigue. People who have this condition may also begin to feel cold more frequently, feel constipated, have drier-than-normal skin, and experience muscle weakness. Hypothyroidism symptoms also include thinning hair, a slower heart rate, irregular menstrual periods in women, and higher blood cholesterol levels.

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Who Is at Risk of Hypothyroidism?

Medical data shows that women over the age of 60 are most likely to develop hypothyroidism. However, anyone can have this condition, even infants and children. Babies can be born without a fully functional thyroid gland and have hypothyroidism. These babies may exhibit yellowed skin, an enlarged tongued, and a puffy face. Babies may also be constipated and excessively tired when they have hypothyroidism. In children, hypothyroidism can cause delayed mental and physical growth.

The Phenomenon of Hypothyroidism Causing Anemia

Numerous studies have been conducted to explore the connection between hypothyroidism and anemia. Hypothyroidism is known to cause microcytic, normocytic, and macrocytic anemia. In fact, anemia is often one of the first signs that an individual has hypothyroidism. Both hypothyroidism and anemia are connected to iron levels in the blood, and the rate of anemia in individuals with symptomatic hypothyroidism is approximately double that of the general population.

Treatments for Hypothyroidism Iron Deficiency

If iron deficiency anemia has been caused by the condition of hypothyroidism, then it is necessary to treat the hypothyroidism in an efficient way. It is necessary to consult a doctor for a thyroid function test to diagnose hypothyroidism and determine how much the disease has progressed. Modern blood tests are able to detect hypothyroidism much earlier than in the past.

To bring iron levels back up to a healthy level and keep them that way, hypothyroidism patients may be advised to take iron supplements like Fergon. The conventional treatment for hypothyroidism is a synthetic thyroid hormone called levothyroxine and used daily. This is an oral medication used to restore the thyroid hormone to healthy levels, and most people begin to see results after just a couple weeks after starting treatment. However, it’s important to take the correct dosage of this hormone because an excess could cause insomnia, heart palpitations, and shakiness. Hypothyroidism patients should talk to their doctors about foods or supplements they are taking because these things may affect the body’s ability to absorb levothyroxine and ultimately reverse the effects of hypothyroidism.

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