Hypothyroidism is a medical condition characterized by lessened activity of the thyroid gland and insufficient production of hormones. Hypothyroidism can be caused by numerous different conditions and it can significantly affect certain parts of the human body. It affects both women and men, regardless of age, although it tends to affect older people and it also affects women slightly more than it affects men.
The most common cause of hypothyroidism is autoimmune thyroiditis. It is a condition in which the immune system of the human body attacks its own thyroid cells mistakenly during the process of fighting an infection. Damaged thyroid cells are unable to produce thyroid hormones in required quantities so the glands get swollen.
This condition takes place gradually and it is largely unknown why the thyroid cells get attacked. Thyroiditis is actually a condition in which the thyroid gland gets inflamed but it can also be of non-autoimmune nature. This type of condition commonly gets triggered by a pregnancy or certain types of viral infections. It is not uncommon for the thyroid gland to produce too much thyroid hormone when inflamed which may lead to a condition known as hyperthyroidism. The phase is usually followed by hypothyroidism.
Inflammatory conditions may last up to a few months and they can cause serious damage to the gland and leave it in the hypothyroid state permanently. Hypothyroidism can also be caused by certain medications and therapies such as thyroid surgery and radioactive iodine therapy. Another common cause of this condition may be iodine deficiency.
When a person does not ingest sufficient amounts of iodine it can lead to hypothyroidism. Iodine deficiency can be partially resolved by ingesting salt enhanced with iodine. There are certain types of medications that sometimes affect the thyroid gland and prevent its proper functioning. These medications include lithium, carbimazole and propylthiouracil.
Excessive consumption of kelp supplements and certain types of cough syrups can also be underlying causes of hypothyroidism. Some children may inherit the hypothyroidism. Sometimes the condition may be associated with problems in the proper functioning of other glands in the human body. Pituitary gland can sometimes cause the thyroid gland to produce less hormones than the human body requires.
This condition is sometimes referred to as the secondary hypothyroidism.
Hypothalamus can also be the cause of the problem if it does not stimulate the pituitary gland in an ordinary manner. This condition is sometimes medically referred to as the tertiary hypothyroidism. The risk factors include family connections, goiter, illness history, autoimmune conditions, and numerous other syndromes.