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Hypothyroidism

What is Hypothyroidism?

Hypothyroidism is more common than one would generally believe. Millions of people are currently hypothyroid and don't even know it! Many disorders result in hypothyroidism - these disorders may directly or indirectly involve the thyroid gland. Because thyroid hormone affects growth, development, and many cellular processes, inadequate thyroid hormone has widespread consequences for the body.

Hypothyroidism

Hypothyroidism refers to any state in which thyroid hormone production in our body is below normal. Since the main purpose of thyroid hormone is to "run the body's metabolism", it is understandable that people with this condition will have symptoms associated with a slow metabolism. Over five million Americans alone have this common medical condition. In fact, as many as ten percent of women may have some degree of thyroid hormone deficiency.

Subclinical Hypothyroidism

Subclinical hypothyroidism refers to a state in which patients do not exhibit the symptoms of hypothyroidism. These patients also have a normal amount of circulating thyroid hormone. The only abnormality is an increased TSH on their blood work. This implies that the pituitary gland is working extra hard to maintain a normal circulating thyroid hormone level and that the thyroid gland requires extra stimulation by the pituitary to produce adequate hormones.

Organ Info:
The thyroid gland is located in the lower neck just above your collarbones. It is very small - in its normal, non-inflammed state it may not always be felt from the outside. The thyroid gland manufactures the thyroid hormone which regulates the rate at which the body carries on its necessary functions.

The majority of these patients can be expected to progress to obvious hypothyroidism, especially if the TSH is above a certain level. While there is some controversy, many endocrinologists will treat such patients, especially if they have a high cholesterol blood level. The abnormal cholesterol profile will likely improve with thyroid hormone replacement. If the cholesterol levels are normal, it is also reasonable to follow these patients without treatment and repeat the blood TSH and thyroid hormone levels in 4 to 6 months to see if more significant hypothyroidism is apparent. Both of these approaches are reasonable and patients should be encouraged to speak with their physicians about specific concerns and preferences.

Causes of Hypothyroidism ››

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