Hypothyroidism

(Hashimoto's Thyroiditis; Underactive Thyroid)

Definition

The thyroid gland is a butterfly-shaped gland in the front of the neck. It produces hormones that control metabolism. Hypothyroidism results when the thyroid gland doesn't produce enough thyroid hormone. The most common form of hypothyroidism is Hashimoto's thyroiditis.
Thyroid Gland
thyroid gland male
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Causes

Hashimoto's thyroiditis is an autoimmune disorder. The immune system produces antibodies that attack cells of the thyroid gland.Hypothyroidism may also be caused by:
  • Congenital defects of the gland or how it works
  • Iatrogenic—occurs as the result of surgery or radiation therapy for thyroid cancer treatment
  • Iodine deficiency—rare in the US
  • Pituitary deficiency
  • Unknown reasons

Risk Factors

Hypothyroidism is more common in women, and in those aged 65 years and older. Other factors that may increase your risk of hypothyroidism include:
  • Family history of hypothyroidism
  • Autoimmune diseases, such as systemic lupus erythematosus, celiac disease, type 1 diabetes , or rheumatoid arthritis
  • Certain health conditions, such as infiltrative disorders, cancer , or infections
  • Surgery, radiation therapy, or radioablation in the neck region
  • Certain medications, such as lithium, iodine, or interleukins
  • Pituitary adenoma —benign tumor of the pituitary gland

Symptoms

You may not have symptoms of hypthyroidism. In those that have symptoms, hypothyroidism may cause:
  • Fatigue
  • Weakness
  • Coarse, brittle hair, and hair loss
  • Facial puffiness
  • Dry skin
  • Swollen hands or feet
  • Cold intolerance
  • Weight gain
  • Constipation
  • Achy feeling all over
  • Depression and irritability
  • Memory loss
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Blurred vision
  • Menstrual abnormalities or infertility
Symptoms of severe or long-term hypothyroidism causes:
  • Slow heart rate
  • Depressed breathing
  • Hypothermia —low body temperature
  • Coma

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