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Your thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland in your neck, just above your collarbone. It is one of your endocrine glands, which make hormones. Thyroid hormones control the rate of many activities in your body. These include how fast you burn calories and how fast your heart beats. All of these activities are your body's metabolism. If your thyroid gland is not active enough, it does not make enough thyroid hormone to meet your body's needs. This condition is hypothyroidism.

Hypothyroidism is more common in women, people with other thyroid problems, and those over 60 years old. Hashimoto's disease, an autoimmune disorder, is the most common cause. Other causes include thyroid nodules, thyroiditis, congenital hypothyroidism, surgical removal of part or all of the thyroid, radiation treatment of the thyroid, and some medicines.

The symptoms can vary from person to person. They may include

  • Fatigue
  • Weight gain
  • A puffy face
  • Cold intolerance
  • Joint and muscle pain
  • Constipation
  • Dry skin
  • Dry, thinning hair
  • Decreased sweating
  • Heavy or irregular menstrual periods and fertility problems
  • Depression
  • Slowed heart rate

To diagnose hypothyroidism, your doctor will do a physical exam, look at your symptoms, and do thyroid tests. Treatment is with synthetic thyroid hormone, taken every day.

NIH: National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases

Symptoms of Hypothyroidism

The following features are indicative of Hypothyroidism:
  • fatigue
  • weight gain
  • puffy face
  • cold intolerance
  • joint and muscle pain
  • constipation
  • dry skin
  • dry and thinning hair
  • decreased sweating
  • heavy or irregular menstrual periods
  • fertility problems
  • depression
  • slowed heart rate
It is possible that Hypothyroidism shows no physical symptoms and still be present in a patient.

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Common Causes of Hypothyroidism

The following are the most common causes of Hypothyroidism:
  • hashimoto's thyroiditis
  • antithyroid medications
  • radiation therapy
  • thyroid surgery
  • pregnancy
  • iodine deficiency

Other Causes of Hypothyroidism

The following are the less common causes of Hypothyroidism:
  • congenital disease
  • pituitary disorder

Risk Factors for Hypothyroidism

The following factors may increase the likelihood of Hypothyroidism:
  • woman older than age 60
  • autoimmune disease
  • family history of thyroid disease
  • lupus and rheumatoid arthritis
  • treated with antithyroid medications or radioactive iodine
  • received radiation to upper chest or neck
  • had thyroid surgery
  • pregnant or delivered a baby within the past six months

Prevention of Hypothyroidism

Yes, it may be possible to prevent Hypothyroidism. Prevention may be possible by doing the following:
  • adding iodine to commonly used foods

Occurrence of Hypothyroidism

Number of Cases

The following are the number of Hypothyroidism cases seen each year worldwide:
  • Very common > 10 Million cases

Common Age Group

Hypothyroidism can occur at any age.

Common Gender

Hypothyroidism can occur in any gender.

Lab Tests and Procedures for Diagnosis of Hypothyroidism

The following lab tests and procedures are used to detect Hypothyroidism:
  • Blood test: To measure the level of thyroid-stimulating hormone

Doctor for Diagnosis of Hypothyroidism

Patients should visit the following specialists if they have symptoms of Hypothyroidism:
  • General practitioner
  • Endocrinologist

Complications of Hypothyroidism if untreated

Yes, Hypothyroidism causes complications if it is not treated. Below is the list of complications and problems that may arise if Hypothyroidism is left untreated:
  • goiter
  • heart problems
  • mental health issues
  • peripheral neuropathy
  • myxedema
  • infertility
  • birth defects

Procedures for Treatment of Hypothyroidism

The following procedures are used to treat Hypothyroidism:
  • Thyroid hormone therapy: To replace the hormone

Self-care for Hypothyroidism

The following self-care actions or lifestyle changes may help in the treatment or management of Hypothyroidism:
  • Avoid dietary extremes: Use walnuts, soybean flour, cottonseed meal products several hours before or after the thyroid medication

Alternative Medicine for Treatment of Hypothyroidism

The following alternate medicine and therapies are known to help in the treatment or management of Hypothyroidism:
  • Do yoga: Help preventing symptoms to worsen
  • Do meditation: Help preventing symptoms to worsen
  • Hypnosis therapy: Help preventing symptoms to worsen

Time for Treatment of Hypothyroidism

While time-period of treatment for each patient may vary, below is the typical time-period for Hypothyroidism to resolve if treated properly under an expert supervision:
  • More than 1 year

Last updated date

This page was last updated on 2/04/2019.
This page provides information for Hypothyroidism.

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