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Tuesday, June 18, 2013
The term hypothyroidism is used when the thyroid gland is diseased and is not making enough thyroid hormone. This means that the body's cells are not stimulated to be active enough.
The typical symptoms of hypothyroidism include:
However, these are very nonspecific symptoms. Lots of people have one or another of these symptoms with perfectly normal thyroid function.
Many times people develop an underactive thyroid and we don't really know the exact cause.
The most common cause is another autoimmune disease called Hashimoto's thyroiditis. This is another autoimmune disease in which the body's own immune system attacks the thyroid gland. This time the attack destroys the thyroid gland, resulting in an inability to make a normal amount of thyroid hormone. Graves' disease and Hashimoto's thyroiditis can both be inherited, and in fact they can both be found in the same families - one member has Hashimoto's thyroiditis and another member has Graves' disease.
A common cause of hypothyroidism is the treatment of an overactive thyroid, either with surgical removal of the thyroid gland or intentional destruction of the thyroid gland with radioactive iodine.
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Last Reviewed: Mar 25, 2013
Thomas A Murphy, MD, FACP, FACE
Associate Professor of Medicine
School of Medicine
Case Western Reserve University