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What Causes Hypothyroidism?

Hypothyroidism results when the thyroid gland fails to produce enough hormones. Hypothyroidism results when the thyroid gland fails to produce enough hormones.

Hypothyroidism results when the thyroid gland fails to produce enough hormones. Hypothyroidism may be due to a number of factors:

  • Autoimmune disease: Hashimoto's thyroiditis is an autoimmune disease (when the body’s immune system attacks its own cells) of the thyroid. The risk factors could be genetic, stress-induced, or environmental triggers.
  • Hyperthyroidism treatment: Overtreating hyperthyroidism (production of excessive thyroid hormone) can lower thyroid hormone levels and may need correction.
  • Thyroid surgery: Removing all or a large portion of your thyroid gland can reduce or completely stop thyroid hormone production. 
  • Radiation therapy: Radiation therapy used to treat cancer in the head and neck region can damage the thyroid gland leading to hypothyroidism.
  • Medications: Certain medications used in other conditions such as lithium for psychiatric disorders can affect thyroid gland function causing hypothyroidism.
  • Congenital disease: Some children may be born with a defective thyroid gland or an absent thyroid gland. The cause may be inherited disorders or idiopathic (unknown causes).
  • Pituitary disorder: The pituitary gland produces thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH), which stimulates the thyroid gland to produce thyroid hormone. If the pituitary gland gets damaged, the TSH levels may reduce, leading to decreased function of the thyroid gland. 
  • Pregnancy: Some women develop hypothyroidism during or after pregnancy (postpartum hypothyroidism). This usually occurs due to the presence of antibodies to the thyroid gland. Hypothyroidism in pregnant women increases the risk of miscarriage, premature delivery, and preeclampsia (high blood pressure in the last pressure in the last trimester).
  • Iodine deficiency: Iodine is a mineral present in seafood, plants grown in iodine-rich soil, and iodized salt. Iodine is required in the synthesis of thyroid hormone. Low iodine levels can lead to hypothyroidism, whereas high iodine levels can worsen hypothyroidism. Using iodized table salt can eliminate this problem.

What is hypothyroidism?

Hypothyroidism is a condition in which the thyroid gland is unable to produce sufficient levels of thyroid hormones. The thyroid is a small, butterfly-shaped gland located in front of the neck. Thyroid hormones regulate metabolism, body temperature, heart rate, and the digestive system. A decrease in the levels of the thyroid hormone causes several body functions to slow down. Hypothyroidism affects women more than men. It can begin at any age but commonly affects middle-aged women. It may be diagnosed during a routine blood work or after symptoms begin. Sometimes, hypothyroidism starts after pregnancy.

There are several safe and effective treatment options for hypothyroidism. The treatment mainly involves supplementation with synthetic thyroid hormones to increase the hormone levels to normal.

Who can get hypothyroidism?

Anyone can develop hypothyroidism, but the risk is high in those:

  • That are female.
  • Aged above 60 years.
  • With a positive family history of thyroid disease.
  • Having other autoimmune diseases such as type 1 diabetes or celiac disease.
  • With a treatment history of radioactive iodine or anti-thyroid medications.
  • With a history of radiation therapy to the head, neck, or upper chest.
  • With a previous thyroid surgery (partial thyroidectomy).
  • Who are pregnant or recently delivered a baby.

What are the signs and symptoms of hypothyroidism?

Hypothyroidism signs and symptoms in adults may include the following:

Signs and symptoms in babies include the following:

  • Yellow skin and eyes (prolonged jaundice of birth)
  • A large, protruding tongue
  • Difficulty breathing and feeding
  • Hoarse cry
  • Pot belly
  • Poor muscle tone
  • Excessive sleepiness
  • Delayed milestones
  • Physical and mental retardation in untreated infants

Signs and symptoms in children and young adults include the following:

In general, children and teens who develop hypothyroidism have the same signs and symptoms as adults do, but in addition, they may also present with

  • Poor physical and mental development.
  • A short height.
  • Delayed development of permanent teeth.
  • Delayed puberty.

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