Conditions InDepth: Hypothyroidism
The thyroid gland is a butterfly-shaped gland in the front of the neck.
is a condition in which the thyroid gland does not produce enough thyroid hormones. A healthy thyroid produces the hormones thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3), which control metabolism. This affects how many calories you burn, how warm you feel, how much you weigh, and how the body handles functions of the cardiovascular, gastrointestinal, and nervous systems. Hypothyroidism results in a slower metabolism and a slower heartbeat.
|The Thyroid Gland
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Hashimoto thyroiditis occurs when the
immune system produces antibodies that attack cells of the thyroid gland.
This results in thyroid swelling. Other less common causes include hypothyroidism as a result of neck
for lymphoma and treatment of hyperthyroidism or
with radioactive iodine or surgery.
Other causes of hypothyroidism include:
—Inflammation of the thyroid gland after a viral upper respiratory tract infection.
—Drugs used to treat hyperthyroidism, such as lithium (used to treat certain psychiatric disorders), certain cardiac medications, and other medications (interleukins, alpha interferon).
—Treatments include radiation or surgical removal of part of the thyroid gland (called subtotal thyroidectomy) to treat other thyroid diseases.
Idiopathic thyroid atrophy
—The thyroid tissue shrivels up for unknown reasons.
—The thyroid gland does not get enough iodine to produce thyroid hormone (this is rare in the United States).
—Certain foods (such as shellfish) and certain medications (such as cough medication) contain large amounts of iodine, which can block thyroid hormone production (rare).
—Cancers and certain infections.
—A benign tumor of the pituitary gland that can cause a problem signaling the thyroid to make thyroid hormones.
—This condition usually improves but may be long lasting.
—An infant that is born with problems making normal amounts of thyroid hormones.
What are the risk factors of hypothyroidism?What are the symptoms of hypothyroidism?How is hypothyroidism diagnosed?What are the treatments for hypothyroidism?Are there screening tests for hypothyroidism?How can I reduce my risk of hypothyroidism?What questions should I ask my doctor?Where can I get more information about hypothyroidism?
About 5% of Americans have hypothyroidism. This condition usually occurs in adults. However in some cases, children or infants may have hypothyroidism (called
). Children need treatment as quickly as possible or
Garber JR, Hennessey JV, Liebermann JA 3rd, Morris CM, Talbert RL. Clinical update. Managing the challenges of hypothyroidism.
J Fam Pract.
Hypothyroidism. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases website. Available at: http://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/health-topics/endocrine/hypothyroidism/Pages/fact-sheet.aspx. Updated February 27, 2012. Accessed November 20, 2012.
Hypothyroidism in adults. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at:
http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated November 19, 2012. Accessed November 20, 2012.
Vanderpump MP, Tunbridge WM, French JM, et al. The incidence of thyroid disorders in the community: a twenty-year follow-up of the Whickham survey.