What Is Hypothyroidism?
Hypothyroidism is a medical condition that results in an underactive thyroid gland. The thyroid gland is a butterfly-shaped organ located in the neck, and it releases thyroid hormones that the body uses to regulate metabolism, breathing, heart rate, and other vital functions.
Hypothyroidism prevents the thyroid gland from producing sufficient amounts of thyroid hormones. In this instance, the body lacks the necessary thyroid hormones to keep different body functions running properly.
Hypothyroidism can occur at any time, and there are many reasons why hypothyroidism occurs, including:
- Autoimmune Disease: An autoimmune disorder causes the body to produce antibodies that attack the immune system.
- Thyroid Surgery: The removal of a portion of the thyroid gland or the entire thyroid may reduce a person’s thyroid hormone production, leading to permanent hypothyroidism.
- Radiation Therapy: The use of radiation to treat head and neck cancers sometimes affects the thyroid gland and leads to hypothyroidism.
- Medication: Lithium and other medications used to treat psychiatric disorders may contribute to hypothyroidism.
In rare cases, hypothyroidism also affects those who are dealing with a pituitary disorder, pregnancy, iodine deficiency, or congenital disease. Meanwhile, no one is immune to hypothyroidism — in fact, the condition affects men, women, and children. But hypothyroidism is treatable, and if the warning signs are identified then one can take the necessary steps to safely and effectively treat the condition.