(Hashimoto's Thyroiditis; Underactive Thyroid)
The thyroid gland is a butterfly-shaped gland in the front of the neck. It makes hormones that control metabolism. Hypothyroidism is when the thyroid does not make enough thyroid hormones. This condition can be treated.
Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.http://services.epnet.com/getimage.aspx?imageiid=74247424si1563.jpgsi1563.jpgNULLjpgsi1563.jpgNULL\\hgfiler01a\intellect\images\si1563.jpgNULL32NULL2008-12-03258396Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.
Hypothyroidism may be caused by damage or injury to the thyroid. This may happen with:
- Disorders of the immune system
- Congenital defects of the gland or how it works
- Surgery, medical procedures, or radiation therapy for thyroid treatment
It may also be caused by:
- Problems with the pituitary glands which sends signals to the thyroid
- Iodine deficiency—(rare in the US) iodine is needed to make thyroid hormones
In some people, the cause of hypothyroidism may remain unknown.
Hypothyroidism is more common in females. It is also more common in those aged 65 years and older. Other factors that may increase the chance of hypothyroidism include:
Symptoms may not always appear. When they do, they may include:
- Feeling tired
- Coarse, brittle hair, and/or hair loss
- Facial puffiness
- Dry skin
- Swollen hands or feet
- Cold intolerance
- Weight gain
- Achy feeling all over
- Depression and irritability
- Memory loss
- Problems focusing
- Blurred vision
- Menstrual problems or infertility
Symptoms of severe or long-term hypothyroidism may be:
The doctor will ask about symptoms and past health. A physical exam will be done.
Blood tests can check levels of thyroid hormones. Abnormal levels will suggest a problem with the thyroid. Other tests may be done to rule out health conditions with similar symptoms.
Medicine will be used to replace the missing thyroid hormones. It should ease symptoms. The amount of medicine needed may change over time. Regular check ups will help treatment stay on track.
There are no steps to prevent hypothyroidism.
- Chaker L, Bianco AC, et al. Hypothyroidism. Lancet. 2017;390(10101):1550-1562.
- Hypothyroidism in adults. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/hypothyroidism-in-adults.
- Thyroid hormone treatment. American Thyroid Association website. Available at: https://www.thyroid.org/thyroid-hormone-treatment.
- April Scott, NP
(C) Copyright 2023 EBSCO Information Services
This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.
To send comments or feedback to our Editorial Team regarding the content please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.