Hypothyroidism is a condition in which the
thyroid gland does not make
enough thyroid hormone. This condition is often called underactive thyroid.A.D.A.M.
The thyroid gland is an important organ of theendocrine
system. It is located at the front of the neck, just above
where your collarbones meet. The thyroid makes hormones that control the way every cell in the body uses
energy. This process is called metabolism.
Hypothyroidism is more common in women and people over age 50.
The most common cause of hypothyroidism is thyroiditis. Swelling and
inflammation damage the thyroid gland's cells.
Causes of this problem include:
The immune system attacking the
Viral infections (common cold) or other respiratory
Pregnancy (often called postpartum
Other causes of hypothyroidism include:
Certain medicines, such as lithium and
Congenital (birth) defects
Radiation treatments to the neck or brain to treat different
Radioactive iodine used to treat an
overactive thyroid gland
Surgical removal of part or all of the thyroid gland
Sheehan syndrome, a
condition that may occur in a woman who bleeds severely during pregnancy or childbirth and
causes the destruction of the pituitary gland
Pituitary tumor or
Late symptoms, if untreated:
Decreased taste and smell
Puffy face, hands, and feet
Thickening of the skin
Thinning of eyebrows
Exams and Tests
The health care provider will do a physical exam and find that your
thyroid gland is enlarged.
Sometimes, the gland is normal size or smaller-than-normal. The exam may also reveal:
Coarse features of the face
Pale or dry skin, which may be cool to the touch
Swelling of the arms and legs
Thin and brittle hair
Blood tests are also ordered to measure your thyroid hormones TSH and T4.
You may also have tests to check: