Signs and symptoms of iodine deficiency

Signs and symptoms of iodine deficiency
Iodine is a mineral found in some foods. The body needs iodine to make thyroid hormones. These hormones control the body’s metabolism and many other important functions. The body also needs thyroid hormones for proper bone and brain development during pregnancy and infancy

Here are some of the common signs and symptoms of iodine deficiency:

1. Swelling of the neck: Also known as goiter, it is one of the most common symptoms of iodine deficiency. When the body is low on iodine, the thyroid gland (which is situated in the neck region) fails to make enough thyroid hormones to meet the demand. So to meet the demand, the gland works harder, which causes the thyroid cells to grow and multiply, causing the gland to grow in size, which in turn leads to swelling of the neck.

2. Heavy or Irregular Periods

Heavy and irregular menstrual bleeding may occur as a result of an iodine deficiency.Like most symptoms of iodine deficiency, this is also related to low levels of thyroid hormones, given that iodine is needed to make thyroid hormones.In one study, 68% of women with low thyroid hormone levels experienced irregular menstrual cycles, compared to only 12% of healthy women.Research also shows that women with low thyroid hormone levels experience more frequent menstrual cycles with heavy bleeding. This is because low thyroid hormone levels disrupt the signals of hormones that are involved in the menstrual cycle.

3. Feeling weak and tired: This is the most common symptoms of hypothyroidism caused due to iodine deficiency. According to a 2017 Indian study on hypothyroidism, it was reported that around 95% of people suffering from low thyroid and iodine levels experience weakness and lethargy. It could be attributed to the fact that thyroid hormones play a key role to maintain energy levels in the body. So lack of the hormone can cause a drop in your energy levels and leave you feeling lethargic and weak.

4. Unexplained weight gain:

Unexpected weight gain is another sign of an iodine deficiency.It may occur if the body does not have enough iodine to make thyroid hormones.This is because thyroid hormones help control the speed of your metabolism, which is the process by which your body converts food into energy and heat.When your thyroid hormone levels are low, your body burns fewer calories at rest. Unfortunately, this means more calories from the foods you eat are stored as fat.Adding more iodine to your diet may help reverse the effects of a slow metabolism, as it can help your body make more thyroid hormones.

5. Hair loss: Most of us are aware of the fact that low levels of thyroid can lead to hair loss. This is because thyroid hormones aid in the growth of hair follicles. Hence, lack of iodine and thus low thyroid levels can stop the hair follicles from growing, which over time can lead to significant hair fall.

6. Changes in Heart Rate

Your heart rate is a measure of how many times your heart beats per minute.
It may be affected by your iodine levels. Too little of this mineral could cause your heart to beat slower than usual, while too much of it could cause your heart to beat faster than usual.A severe iodine deficiency may cause an abnormally slow heart rate. This could make you feel weak, fatigued, dizzy and possibly cause you to faint

7. Dry and coarse skin: More than 85% of the population with low thyroid and iodine levels can experience dry and harsh skin reported a 2017 study done by Indian researchers. Thyroid hormones not only help the skin cells to regenerate but also help to keep the skin hydrated by regulating the sweat mechanism. Thus, people with low thyroid levels tend to sweat less, which makes them more prone to dry skin.

8. Impaired memory: It is reported that iodine deficiency can cause brain damage in children which can lead to learning disability and psychomotor impairment which includes difficulty in remembering (memory), speaking, talking, and thinking. This is because thyroid hormones help the brain to grow and develop and lack of this hormone due to insufficient iodine can lead to cognitive impairment.

Moreover, an insufficient supply of thyroid hormones to the developing brain can lead to mental retardation. In pregnant women, brain damage and irreversible mental retardation of the growing fetus are some of the common complications induced by iodine deficiency.

9. Intolerance to cold: Low levels of thyroid hormones can affect the metabolism and lead to less heat production, making you feel sensitive to cold. Moreover, the low metabolic rate and low body temperature can make you more prone to feeling cold. It is seen that almost 84% of people with low thyroid levels experience cold intolerance.

10. Problems During Pregnancy

Pregnant women are at a high risk of iodine deficiency.This is because they need to consume enough to meet their own daily needs, as well as the needs of their growing baby. The increased demand for iodine continues throughout lactation, as babies receive iodine through breast milk.Not consuming enough iodine throughout pregnancy and lactation may cause side effects for both the mother and baby.Mothers may experience symptoms of an underactive thyroid, such as a goiter, weakness, fatigue and feeling cold. Meanwhile, an iodine deficiency in infants may stunt physical growth and brain development.