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Hypothyroidism Facts You Need to Know

 

Hypothyroidism

Myxedema; Adult hypothyroidism 

 

Hypothyroidism is a condition in which the thyroid gland does not make enough thyroid hormone. This condition is often called underactive thyroid.

Hypothyroidism 

Causes

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.

Brain-thyroid link 

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 thyroid gland
  • Viral infections (common cold) or other respiratory infections 
  • Pregnancy (often called postpartum thyroiditis) 

Other causes of hypothyroidism include:

  • Certain medicines, such as lithium and  amiodarone
  • Congenital (birth) defects 
  • Radiation treatments to the neck or brain to treat different cancers 
  • 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 pituitary surgery

Symptoms

Early symptoms:

Late symptoms, if untreated:

  • Decreased taste and smell
  • Hoarseness
  • Puffy face, hands, and feet
  • Slow speech
  • 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:

  • Brittle nails
  • 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:

 

Credit: NIH

Hypothyroidism Revolution