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Hypothyroidism: Symptoms and Causes

By HERWriter
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Hypothyroidism related image Photo: Getty Images

According to the American Thyroid Association, ʺmore than 20 million Americans have a thyroid issue and more than 60 percent go undiagnosed.ʺ In their lifetime, more than 12 percent of the U.S. population will develop a thyroid issue.

The ATA also stated hypothyroidism is one of the most common thyroid issues. Hypothyroidism is when the thyroid does not produce enough thyroid hormone, making the thyroid underactive.

Also, mild hypothyroidism affects up to 20 out of 100 of women older than 60. Over time, mild hypothyroid symptoms worsen and could lead to severe hypothyroid symptoms.

Among Americans, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is the most common cause of hypothyroidism. Hashimoto's thyroiditis is an autoimmune response in which the immune system attacks the thyroid gland. Also, Graves’s disease is a form of hypothyroidism.

Hypothyroidism tends to increase with age and women older than 60 are at high risk. Women, more than men, are affected by hypothyroidism.

The ATA website revealed, ʺpregnant women with undiagnosed or inadequately treated hypothyroidism have an increased risk of miscarriage, preterm delivery, and severe developmental problems in their children.ʺ

Symptoms of hypothyroidism include:

• Slow thinking or memory loss
• Depressed mood
• Feeling sluggish
• Fatigue
• Lack of energy
• Weight gain
• Leg cramps
• Dry skin and hair
• Heavy menstrual periods
• Feeling cold
• Constipation

Memory loss is one of the most defining features of hypothyroid. This forgetfulness in patients can become a major obstacle in everyday life. All too often those with hypothyroidism forget minor or major details of everyday life.

Sometimes hypothyroid is misdiagnosed because symptoms can mimic other illnesses. Also, hypothyroidism tends to run in families.

According to the ATA, causes of hypothyroidism include:

• Medicine or prescription drugs. Drugs such as amiodarone, lithium, interferon alpha, and interleukin-2 can prevent the thyroid gland from being able to make hormone normally.
• Too much or too little iodine
• Radiation treatment
• Autoimmune diseases
• Surgical removal of part or all of the thyroid gland

Add a Comment1 Comments

EmpowHER Guest

Thank you for including this article on empowher.com. Thank you for providing this helpful article on hypothyroidism. I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism following the birth of my first son in 2006 and experienced many of the symptoms you have listed. I trusted my doctors completely assuming they knew everything there was to know about this disease, especially when I became pregnant again in late 2008. How wrong I was! Under their care my TSH, the gold standard for measuring thyroid function, rose high above the safe range for pregnancy and I miscarried. I vowed to myself that I would research everything there was to know about hypothyroidism and warn other women. I fulfilled my vow and launched my blog Hypothyroid Mom in memory of the baby I lost to hypothyroidism.

October 21, 2012 - 5:25am
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.


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