Alternate Names : Primary Hypothyroidism
Hypothyroidism is a condition in which the thyroid gland does not produce adequate amounts of thyroid hormone.
What is going on in the body?
The thyroid gland is a small endocrine gland located in the lower neck. It produces thyroid hormone under regulation by the brain and the
pituitary gland. Thyroid hormone, which is released into the body, regulates
multiple body functions. It is important in maintaining normal metabolism.
Thyroid hormone also helps maintain normal
cholesterol balance, heart function, and brain function. Almost every
system of the body is affected by hypothyroidism.
What are the causes and risks of the disease?
Hypothyroidism is most commonly caused by an autoimmune disorder. An autoimmune disorder is a condition in
which the body produces antibodies that attack its own cells for no known
reason. Hashimoto's thyroiditis is
example of an autoimmune disorder
that attacks the thyroid gland. Over time, this makes the thyroid
gland unable to produce normal amounts of thyroid hormone.
Some individuals have an overactive thyroid, a condition known as hyperthyroidism. Medications can be
given to destroy a portion of an overactive thyroid. If too much medication is given, the person can develop low
thyroid function, or hypothyroidism.
Surgery to remove the thyroid gland in someone with a condition such as thyroid cancer can also cause hypothyroidism.