Hypothyroidism: Symptoms Causes and Risk factors


Hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid) is a condition that doesn’t produce enough of certain crucial hormones in your thyroid gland.

Early stages of hypothyroidism can not result in visible symptoms. Untreated hypothyroidism can, over time, cause a variety of health problems, including obesity, joint pain, infertility and heart disease.

Precise measures of thyroid function are essential for diagnosing hypothyroidism. Synthetic thyroid hormone therapy is typically simple , safe and successful as soon as you and your doctor find the right dose for you.


Hypothyroidism signs and symptoms differ, depending on how severe the hormone deficiency is. Problems continue to grow gradually, often over a period of many years.

At first, the signs of hypothyroidism such as exhaustion and weight gain can barely be recognized. Or you might only relate them to aging. But as your metabolism keeps slowing you can develop more obvious problems.

Signs and symptoms of hypothyroidism could include:


            Increased sensitivity to cold


            Dry skin

            Weight gain

            Puffy face


            Muscle weakness

            Elevated blood cholesterol level

            Muscle aches, tenderness and stiffness

            Pain, stiffness or swelling in your joints

            Heavier than normal or irregular menstrual periods

            Thinning hair

            Slowed heart rate


            Impaired memory

            Enlarged thyroid gland (goiter)

Hypothyroidism in infants

Although hypothyroidism most commonly affects middle-aged and older people, anyone, including infants, may develop this disorder. Babies born without a thyroid gland or with a gland not functioning properly can have few signs and symptoms at first. When newborns have hypothyroidism issues, then the issues can include:

            The skin yellowing and eye whites (jaundice). It occurs in most cases when a baby’s liver is unable to metabolize a substance called bilirubin, which usually grows when the body recycles old or weakened red blood cells.

            A large, protruding tongue.

            Difficulty breathing.

            Hoarse crying.

            An umbilical hernia.

Infants are likely to have difficulty eating as the disease progresses, and can struggle to grow and develop normally. They may as well have:


            Poor muscle tone

            Excessive sleepiness

Also mild cases can lead to serious physical and mental retardation if hypothyroidism is not treated in children.

Kids and adolescents are hypothyroidised

Kids and teens who acquire hypothyroidism usually have the same signs and symptoms as adults do, but may also experience:

            Poor growth, resulting in short stature

            Delayed development of permanent teeth

            Delayed puberty

            Poor mental development

When to see a doctor

If you feel tired for no reason, see your doctor, or have any of the other signs or symptoms of hypothyroidism, such as dry skin, a pale, puffy face, constipation, or a hoarse voice.

If you are being treated for hypothyroidism with hormone therapy, schedule follow-up visits as often as your doctor recommends. Initially, it’s important to ensure you get the right dose of medicine. And the dosage you need, can change over time.



If your thyroid does not generate enough hormones, it can disrupt the body’s balance of chemical reactions. There may be several causes, including autoimmune disease, hyperthyroidism treatments, radiation therapy, thyroid surgery and some medications.

Your thyroid is a small butterfly-shaped gland located just below your Adam’s apple, at the base of your neck front. Thyroid-generated hormones — triiodothyronine (T3 ) and thyroxine (T4) — have a tremendous impact on your health, affecting all aspects of your metabolism. These hormones also influence the control of vital functions, such as heart rate and body temperature.

The hypothyroidism occurs when enough hormones are not released by the thyroid gland. Hypothyroidism may be attributed to many causes, including:

• Illness of the Autoimmune. An autoimmune disorder known as Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is the most common cause of hypothyroidism. If the immune system develops antibodies that invade the own tissues, autoimmune disorders occur. Often, your thyroid gland is involved in this cycle.

Scientists aren’t exactly why this happens, but it’s likely a combination of things like the genes and a connection to the environment. Such antibodies, however, do impair the ability of the thyroid to produce hormones.

            Treatment with over-response to hyperthyroidism. Persons who produce too much thyroid hormone (hyperthyroidism) are often treated with anti-thyroid medicine or radioactive iodine. The goal of these treatments is to get back to normal thyroid function. But occasionally, correcting hyperthyroidism may result in too much lowering of the development of thyroid hormones, resulting in permanent hypothyroidism.

            Action on thyroid. Removing all or a large portion of your thyroid gland can reduce or halt the development of hormones. You are going to have to take thyroid hormone for life in that case.

            Radiation treatment. Radiation used to treat head and neck cancers may damage the thyroid gland, and can result in hypothyroidism.

            Medicines. Hypothyroidism can be treated by a variety of drugs. Lithium is one such drug which is used to treat such psychological conditions. Tell your doctor about its effect on your thyroid gland if you are taking medicine.

Less frequently, hypothyroidism may result from one of the:

            Congenital diabetes. Many babies are born with or without a faulty thyroid gland. The thyroid gland did not naturally develop in most cases for unexplained reasons, but some kids have an inherited form of the condition. Infants with congenital hypothyroidism often look fine at birth. That’s one explanation why most states now allow thyroid screening for newborns.

            Hypophysiology. A relatively rare cause of hypothyroidism is the pituitary gland’s failure to produce enough thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) — typically due to a pituitary gland benign tumour.

•         Many women experience hypothyroidism (postpartum hypothyroidism) during or after pregnancy, mostly because they create antibodies against their own thyroid gland. Left untreated, hypothyroidism raises the likelihood of miscarriage , premature birth, and preeclampsia — a disorder that causes a woman’s blood pressure to rise dramatically during the last three months of pregnancy. This also has the ability to adversely affect the developing fetus.

•           Lack of Iodine. Trace mineral iodine — found primarily in fish, seaweed, plants grown in soil rich in iodine, and iodized salt — is important for thyroid hormone development. Too little iodine can lead to hypothyroidism and in people who already have the condition too much iodine can exacerbate the hypothyroidism. Iodine deficiency is widespread in some parts of the world, but the introduction of iodine to table salt has practically eliminated this problem in india.

Risk factors

Although anyone can develop hypothyroidism, you’re at an increased risk if you:

•           Are a woman

•           Are older than 60

•           Have a family history of thyroid disease

•           Have an autoimmune disease, such as type 1 diabetes or celiac disease

•           Have been treated with radioactive iodine or anti-thyroid medications

•           Received radiation to your neck or upper chest

•           Have had thyroid surgery (partial thyroidectomy)

•           Have been pregnant or delivered a baby within the past six months


Untreated hypothyroidism can lead to a number of health problems:

•           Goiter. The thyroid ‘s continuous stimulation to produce more hormones will cause the gland to grow bigger — a disorder known as goiter. While not painful in general, a big goiter may affect your appearance and can interfere with swallowing or respiring.

•           Heart pain. Hypothyroidism may also be associated with elevated risk of cardiac disease and heart failure, mainly because high levels of low-density lipoprotein ( LDL ) cholesterol — the “poor” cholesterol — may occur in people with an underactive thyroid.

•           Questions on mental health. Depression in hypothyroidism may begin early, and may become more intense over time. Often, hypothyroidism can cause slow mental processing.

•           Neuropathy at the edge. Uncontrolled hypothyroidism in the long term will damage your peripheral nerves. Those are the nerves which carry information from your brain and spinal cord to the rest of your body — your arms and legs, for example. Peripheral neuropathy in areas affected may cause discomfort, numbness and tingling.

•           Myxedema: A unusual, life-threatening disease is the product of an undiagnosed long-term hypothyroidism. The signs and symptoms include severe cold sensitivity and somnolence accompanied by extreme lethargy and inconscience.

Sedatives, infection, or other trauma to your body may cause a myxedema coma. When you have myxedema signs or symptoms you need urgent medical emergency care.

•           Being infertile. Low thyroid hormone levels may interfere with ovulation which impairs fertility. However, some of the causes of hypothyroidism — including autoimmune disease — can also affect fertility.

Birth defects. Babies born to untreated women with thyroid disease can have a higher chance of birth defects than babies born to healthy mothers. Also these children are more likely to face serious intellectual and developmental problems.

Children with untreated hypothyroidism present at birth are at risk of severe physical as well as mental development issues. But if this condition is diagnosed within the first few months of life, then there are excellent chances of normal development.

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