Diseases & Conditions


HypothyroidismCausesMedicationsPreventionRisk FactorsSymptomsTreatmentTypes

What is Hypothyroidism?

Hypothyroidism is explained as ‘A disorder resulting when an underactive thyroid gland causes insufficient production of thyroid hormones’. The lack of a thyroid gland can also result in it. Hypothyroidism is also known as Myxedema.

Causes of Hypothyroidism

Below is a list of some of the common causes of Myxedema in adults:

  • Hashimoto's thyroiditis
  • Lymphocytic thyroiditis (which can occur after hyperthyroidism)
  • Thyroid destruction (resulting from radioactive iodine or surgery)
  • Pituitary/ hypothalamic disease
  • Medications
  • Severe iodine deficiency

Medications for Hypothyroidism

  • For most patients, treatment is a type of T4 [levothyroxine sodium (Synthroid Levoxyl,)]. Here mostly, synthetic T4 is in a ready and steady manner converted naturally to T3, which in turn is regulated appropriately.
  • The dosage on average of T4 replacement is roughly 1.6 micrograms/kg per day in adults. Larger doses are required by children.
  • In patients who are young and healthy, the entire amount of replacing T4 could be initially started.
  • In patients who have a pre-existing heart condition, this method in about 20% of cases of thyroid replacement, may well aggravate the underlying heart disease.
  • In older patients without a history of heart disease, starting on a full dosage may result in revealing heart disease. For this same reason, patients with a known history of heart disease or those who are suspected of being at high risk are initially started off with 25 micrograms or less, with a gradual dosage increase.
  • Other medications that contain antacids or iron should be avoided as absorption is interfered by them. Hypothyroidism therapy is monitored regularly at intervals of six weeks, approximately, until stable. At these visits, in order to determine if the appropriate quantity of thyroid replacement is being administered, a blood sample is checked for TSH. In general, a normal TSH range should be between 0.5 and 5.0uIU/ml but, the absolute values may vary, depending on the lab used. The TSH is checked annually once it stabilizes. Excessive medication of thyroid in over-treating of Myxedema can be potentially harmful causing problems like heart palpitations and blood pressure control. It can also result in osteoporosis. No effort can be spared in keeping the TSH within its normal range.

Prevention of Hypothyroidism

Preventive measures begin with all adults beginning at age 35 to be tested and thus continuing for every 5 years. Older adults, especially women who are older than 60, those having a family history of hypothyroidism, and people with Addison's disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and also type 1 diabetes should be tested for hypothyroidism.

Risk factors of Hypothyroidism

The following are the risk factors of Myxedema:

  • If one has ever undergone thyroid surgery or has been administered radiation therapy to the neck for the treatment of cancer.
  • If one is taking any one of the following medicines that can potentially cause hypothyroidism— some of which are amiodarone, interleukin-2, interferon alpha, lithium, and also maybe thalidomide
  • If one has a family history of thyroid disease.

Symptoms of Hypothyroidism

Symptoms of Myxedema are very easy to miss and often not taken seriously. The most common ones are:

  • Fatigue and depression
  • Cold intolerance and excessive sleepiness
  • Dry skin and dry and coarse hair
  • Muscle cramps and modest weight gain.
  • Decreased concentration and constipation.

Treatment for Hypothyroidism

Hypothyroidism is treated by the replacement of the hormones that your own thyroid can’t make any longer, so as to bring your T4 and TSH back to normal levels. Although as of now, hypothyroidism is impossible to cure, there is hope of that changing in the near future. So currently, treatment for Myxedema involves regulating the thyroid function by taking supplements capable of providing your thyroid with the iodine that the body needs. This is so because synthetic thyroxine pills contain hormone that is exactly like the T4 which the thyroid gland would itself make.

Types of Hypothyroidism

There are three types of hypothyroidism namely; Primary, whose origin is in the Thyroid gland, Secondary, originating in the Pituitary gland and Tertiary originating in the Hypothalamus.