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Category: Diseases of The Blood And Ductless Galnds

This is a constitutional disease due to atrophy (wasting away)
of the thyroid gland and characterized by swollen condition of the tissue
under the skin, wasting of the thyroid and mental failures. Three forms
exist, myxoedema proper, cretinism and operative myxoedcma.

Causes of Cretinism. This may exist at birth (congenital) or it may
develop at puberty, and is due to the absence or loss of function of the
thyroid gland. Sporadic (here and there) cretinism may follow an acute
infectious disease or it may be congenital. Myxoedema may be hereditary
and is most common in women.

Symptoms, (a) Cretinism. Mental and bodily development is slow. There is
extraordinary disproportion between the different parts of the body. The
condition is sometimes not recognized until the child is six or seven
years old, then the slow development is noticed. The tongue looks large
and hangs out of the mouth. The hair may be thin, the skin very dry.
Usually by the end of the first year and during the second year the signs
of the cretinism become very marked and should be recognized. The face
looks large, looks bloated, the eyelids are puffy and swollen, the nose is
flat and depressed and thick. Teething is late, and the teeth that do
appear decay. The fontanelles are open. The abdomen is swollen, the legs
are short and thick, the hands and feet are not developed and look pudgy.
The face is pale and has a waxy, sallow tint. The muscles are weak and the
child cannot support itself. Above the collar bone there are pads of fat.
The child does not develop mentally and there may be one of the grades of
idiocy and imbecility (feeble-minded).


(b) Myxoedema, proper. The skin is infiltrated, causing loss of the lines
of the facial expression, skin is dry and harsh, much thickened,
especially in the region above the collar bone. The face is broad, with
coarse features, the nose is broad and thick, the mouth is large, lips
thick, hair scanty and coarse, slowness of motion and thought, weak
memory, irritability, headache, suspiciousness, followed sometimes by
hallucinations, delusion and dementia (insane). The disease may progress
for ten or fifteen years. Death may occur early.

Operative type. This rarely develops except the thyroid glands have been
entirely removed and then only if no extra glands are present.

Symptoms. Are the same as that of cretinism.

Treatment. An even, warm climate. Thyroid extract, to be given by a
physician, is the remedy. After the recovery occasional small doses still
may be necessary for some, or in cretinism for life.

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