Causes of Hypothyroidism

Yumhee Park | Oct 17, 2014 Nov 8, 2016

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Hypothyroidism, also known as an underactive thyroid, is when the thyroid doesn’t produce enough hormones resulting in a chemical imbalance in the body and greatly affecting metabolism. This can cause multiple health problems that can be difficult to diagnose. The thyroid is located in the front of the neck and is part of the endocrine system. Here are some common and less common causes of hypothyroidism.

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Autoimmune disease

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Diseases like Hashimoto’s disease where the immune system attacks the thyroid, can often cause hypothyroidism. This disease is the most common cause of hypothyroidism in the U.S. Other autoimmune diseases can act in a similar way and cause the condition.

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Thyroid surgery

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Undergoing surgery to remove parts or all of your thyroid gland can reduce or completely stop thyroid hormone production and lead to hypothyroidism.

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Radiation therapy

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Radiation therapy is used to treat cancers. Unfortunately, if radiation therapy is used in the head or neck, the radiation could affect the thyroid and cause hypothyroidism.

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Certain medications may cause hypothyroidism, especially ones that treat psychiatric disorders. It’s important to talk to your doctor about all side effects of any potent medication regime you begin.

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Congenital disease

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When babies are born with an underdeveloped thyroid or with no thyroid at all, they are born with an inherited form of hypothyroidism. Fortunately, most states now require newborn thyroid screening in order for parents to take the best next steps for their babies.

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Pituitary disorder

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When the pituitary gland does not function properly and does not produce enough thyroid stimulating hormones, hypothyroidism can occur. This malfunctioning can be caused by a benign tumor in the pituitary gland.

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During or after pregnancy, a woman may develop hypothyroidism, often because they produce antibodies to their own thyroid gland. Left untreated, this could prove harmful to both mother and baby.

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Too much or too little iodine

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Iodine is mostly found in seafood and seaweed and is crucial in the proper functioning of the thyroid. It’s important to regulate intake as too much iodine might also cause hypothyroidism. If you have any reason to suspect you might have hypothyroidism due to symptoms, do research, and consult a doctor.

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Post treatment of hyperthyroidism

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Hyperthyroidism is a condition where the thyroid gland is overactive and produces too much thyroid hormones. This can result in sudden weight loss, irregular heartbeat, and nervousness. Sometimes by treating a hyperthyroid, hypothyroidism can occur.

NEXT: Foods to Eat for Hypothyroidism