What is hypothyroidism?

Hypothyroidism is a common disorder that occurs when the thyroid gland is underactive and does not produce enough thyroid hormone. The thyroid gland is located in the front part of the neck, and it releases hormones that regulate your metabolism and how you use energy.

Thyroid Problem Spotlight

The lack of thyroid hormone due to hypothyroidism slows the body’s chemical processes and metabolism. This leads to symptoms such as fatigue and weight gain. Hypothyroidism, also called myxedema, hypothyroid, or underactive thyroid, is more common in women than in men. It is also more common in people older than 50 years of age.

Hypothyroidism is not curable, but it is treatable. Left untreated, hypothyroidism may lead to serious, potentially life-threatening complications, such as heart disease and rarely, myxedema coma. Seek prompt medical care if you have symptoms of hypothyroidism, such as cold hands and feet, fatigue, and weight gain. Timely diagnosis and treatment of hypothyroidism reduces the risk of serious complications.


What are the symptoms of hypothyroidism?

The types and severity of symptoms of hypothyroidism vary, and many are associated with other conditions. At the onset of the disease, the symptoms can be vague and develop or progress slowly. Symptoms may include:


What causes hypothyroidism?

Hypothyroidism can be caused by a variety of diseases and conditions. Most commonly, hypothyroidism is the result of inflammation of the thyroid gland, which can be due to:

Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, an autoimmune disease in which the body’s immune system mistakes healthy thyroid tissue as potentially dangerous to the body and attacks it. This results in inflammation of the tissue t... Read more about hypothyroidismcauses


How is hypothyroidism treated?

There is no cure for hypothyroidism. However, with recognition and treatment, low levels of thyroid hormone can be replaced to reach normal levels in the body. To accomplish this, most people with hypothyroidism have to take the oral thyroid hormone replacement medication called levothyroxine for the rest of their lives.

Medication therapy is monitored closely with blood tests for... Read more about hypothyroidismtreatments

Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS Last Annual Review Date: Aug 23, 2013 Copyright: © Copyright 2014 Health Grades, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Health Grades, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the HealthGrades User Agreement.

This Article is Filed Under: Diabetes and the Endocrine System

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