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Hypothyroidism is the most common type of thyroid disorder. It means your thyroid gland is not active enough. This tiny gland is found in the front of your neck. Its job is to make thyroid hormone. If the gland is underactive, it may not make enough thyroid hormone.
Thyroid hormones control how your body uses energy. They affect almost every organ in your body. When your thyroid doesn’t make enough of these hormones, parts of your body slow down.
The most common cause of hypothyroidism is an autoimmune disorder. This means your immune system starts to attack itself. It makes antibodies against the thyroid gland. Another cause may be treatment for an overactive thyroid gland. That may include radioactive iodine therapy or surgery.
A condition called secondary hypothyroidism can also sometimes happen. It’s when your pituitary gland stops working. The pituitary gland then no longer tells the thyroid gland to make thyroid hormones.
Newborns are tested at birth for hypothyroidism. This condition must be treated immediately. It can affect a baby’s brain and nervous system.
You may be more likely to have hypothyroidism if you:
Symptoms are different for each person. They are usually hard to notice and start slowly. They may be mistaken for symptoms of depression. Here are the most common symptoms and signs:
These symptoms may look like other health problems. Always see your healthcare provider for a diagnosis.
Your healthcare provider will figure out the best treatment for you based on:
If your hypothyroidism is not treated, these complications may happen:
Tell your healthcare provider if your symptoms get worse or you have new symptoms. If you are a woman of childbearing age and want to become pregnant, talk with your healthcare provider first.
Tips to help you get the most from a visit to your healthcare provider:
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