Written statement:

My project covers the objective “Compare and contrast the various nervous tissues and cells”. The thyroid is a small organ located at the base of the neck that helps control the body’s endocrine system. Its purpose is to communicate with the pituitary gland in the brain and the rest of the body to secrete thyroid hormone to the rest of the body. The thyroid hormone is a regulatory hormone that affects any nucleated cell within the human body by regulating how fast they use calories, in other words, it is responsible for regulating the human body’s metabolism. 

Hypothyroidism is a condition that can be caused by a number of factors including thyroiditis (swelling of the thyroid), hyperthyroidism (because the thyroid is removed), iodine deficiency, and hereditary conditions (cancer/autoimmune diseases). Primary symptoms of hypothyroidism include fatigue, sensitivity to the cold, weight gain, constipation, depression, muscle slowness, slow thoughts, muscle aches/weakness, and muscle cramps. Although there are a lot of symptoms, initial symptoms include fatigue and slight weight gain which may not be noticeable for a time.

The nervous system can be affected by hypothyroidism. The nervous system is divided into two parts, the central nervous system (CNS) and the peripheral nervous system (PNS). The central nervous system includes the brain, and spinal cord while the peripheral nervous system encompasses anything that branches off of the CNS such as your extremities. If hypothyroidism is severe it can potentially affect the CNS, however in most cases it primarily affects the PNS. A condition that can develop because of hypothyroidism within the peripheral nervous system is peripheral neuropathy, a condition characterized by numbness/loss of sensation, burning sensation, and pain in extremities and can cause significant nerve damage.

The primary cause is still debated as to why the PNS is affected, what is known so far is hypothyroidism causes a significant decline in metabolism because the cellular metabolism in the body is no longer being activated by the thyroid hormone. This causes a significant decrease in body temperature because the body is now producing much less energy. Because of the loss in body temperature, the body begins to develop fluid retention, bloating, swollen ankles, and a puffy face. Once the swelling affects the nerves, peripheral neuropathy develops. Peripheral neuropathy will first develop in areas like the wrist and ankle because the tissue becomes swollen and puts pressure on the periphery nerves, causing carpal tunnel in the wrist and tarsal tunnel in the ankle. When pressure is put on those nerves it can cause the nerve itself to swell and break down resulting in the nerve becoming scarred and lose its ability to relay information. When untreated it can lead to a severe case where nerves may be permanently damaged and outermost extremities begin to develop significant weakness and eventually paralysis. Eventually, this condition will begin to affect the nerves and muscles of the legs and arms as well.

In order to treat hypothyroidism and peripheral neuropathy, a synthetic thyroid hormone is administered. It requires daily use of levothyroxine, which gives the body its required amount of thyroid hormone to function properly. Additionally, to treat the symptoms of peripheral neuropathy, many medications such as antidepressants (specifically amitriptyline), oxycodone, anti seizure medication, or pain-relieving creams are administered. Additional ways to reduce all symptoms include exercise and maintaining a healthy weight.


Hypothyroidism: Symptoms, causes, treatment & medication. Cleveland Clinic. (n.d.). Retrieved November 22, 2022, from https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/12120-hypothyroidism 

Peripheral neuropathy. Illnesses & conditions | NHS inform. (n.d.). Retrieved November 22, 2022, from https://www.nhsinform.scot/illnesses-and-conditions/brain-nerves-and-spinal-cord/peripheral-neuropathy 

Physiology, thyroid function – statpearls – NCBI bookshelf. (n.d.). Retrieved November 23, 2022, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK537039/ 

Stasiolek, M. (2015, June 22). Neurological symptoms and signs in thyroid disease. Thyroid Research. Retrieved November 22, 2022, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4480949/ 

Thyroid hormone: What it is & function. Cleveland Clinic. (n.d.). Retrieved November 22, 2022, from https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/22391-thyroid-hormone 

Todd B. Nippoldt, M. D. (2022, March 15). Hypothyroidism: Can it cause peripheral neuropathy? Mayo Clinic. Retrieved November 22, 2022, from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/peripheral-neuropathy/expert-answers/hypothyroidism/faq-20058489 

One Comment

  1. William did his steam project on how hypothyroidism causes peripheral neuropathy. What I was able to get from William’s project is that the thyroid is a huge part of your body because it regulates your bodies metabolism and so it’s important for it to be maintain. I liked how William explained what happens when the thyroid is either swelling, removed, or affected by other things and that is hypothyroidism. This is a problem because it slowly breaks down your body because you gain weight, your muscles ache, it causes depression and constipation. If the hypothyroidism is severe, it affects the central nervous system, but it usually only affects the peripheral nervous system. Peripheral neuropathy occurs when your body starts to swell so much that it causes your nerves to swell and thus creating this issue. For William’s project, I really enjoyed his drawing and how he drew a robot and gave each system its own personal robot system. I think that he portrayed his objective, and his drawing was very creative. I liked how he described the peripheral neuropathy in robot terms, “Oil buildup causes compression of the data system which results in damage to the system and decreased mobility of extremities”. I also appreciated the fact that he color coded the central nervous system and the peripheral nervous system, so you knew which one was which. To treat hypothyroidism and peripheral neuropathy, you have to take levothyroxine and it helps your body get a good amount of thyroid hormones. You can also prevent hypothyroidism by taking care of yourself, eating good food and exercising, I learned a lot.

    Jasmine Deans

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