Tag Archives: hypothyroidism

What Contributes to Thyroid Dysfunction?

The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland located at the base of the neck (below the Adam’s apple) that produces the triiodothyronine and thyroxine hormones. These hormones help regulate many functions within the body including metabolism, heart rate, growth and reproductive processes. A whopping 20 million Americans will develop some type of thyroid condition at some point in their lifetimes, more women being affected than men. There are various disorders that cause this gland to malfunction, let’s take a closer look:

Different Thyroid Conditions

The two most common thyroid diseases are: Hypothyroidism (when your thyroid gland doesn’t produce enough thyroid hormones), and hyperthyroidism (when your thyroid gland is overactive). However, thyroid dysfunction goes well beyond these two disorders. Some of the lesser known thyroid conditions include:

  1. Thyroid cancer – There are different types of cancer that affect the thyroid such as medullary, follicular, hurtle cell and anaplastic thyroid cancer.
  2. Goiter – When the thyroid gland becomes abnormally enlarged it is referred to as a goiter. It is often caused by an iodine deficiency and may indicate an underlying condition.
  3. Thyroiditis – refers to inflammation of the thyroid gland caused by an underlying condition (such as a virus).
  4. Graves’ Disease – is an autoimmune disorder caused by the overproduction of thyroid hormones and leads to hyperthyroidism.
  5. Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis – is an autoimmune disease whereby the body attacks its own thyroid gland, resulting in many problems such as inflammation, weight gain and cold intolerance.

What Can Cause the Thyroid to Malfunction?

Sometimes the cause is unknown, but common contributing factors include:

  • Autoimmunity – when the body produces antibodies that attack your own organs, glands and tissues it can disrupt the thyroid leading to one of the disorders listed above. This can be hereditary or as a result of certain bacteria or viruses.
  • Congenital causes – sometimes babies are born with an underdeveloped or missing thyroid gland.
  • Medications or treatments – certain medications or treatments such as lithium or radiation can cause the thyroid to malfunction.
  • Iodine levels – taking in too little or too much iodine can interfere with thyroid function.
  • Certain substances such as red dye (no. 3), processed meat or certain chemicals (like perfluorochemicals) can cause thyroid disruption or even thyroid cancer.
  • Benign or malignant tumors can block the thyroid or lead to cancer of the thyroid.
  • Pregnancy – According to the Mayo Clinic, in rare instances pregnant women develop antibodies to their thyroid gland during or post pregnancy, resulting in hypothyroidism (this should be addressed immediately if it happens during the pregnancy as it can cause harm to the baby).
  • Pituitary glad malfunction – when the pituitary gland fails to produce enough thyroid-stimulating hormone it can cause thyroid conditions.

Well, there you have some of the major types and causes of thyroid dysfunction! Thanks for visiting DocChat. If you have any medical concerns, our board-certified physicians are standing by 24/7/365 to assist you!


Your thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland at the base of your neck that produces hormones which help control important bodily functions such as your metabolism, growth, appetite, heartbeat and reproductive health. More than 12% of the American population will develop some kind of a thyroid condition during their lifetimes; these conditions are more prevalent in females. There are many ways your thyroid can malfunction but the two main conditions are hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism.


People with hypothyroidism output abnormally low amounts of the proper hormones from the thyroid gland, resulting in a myriad of unpleasant symptoms and related health problems. Usually without proper medical treatment people with hypothyroidism cannot produce enough hormones to keep the body functioning efficiently. Some causes include underlying autoimmune diseases such as Lupus or Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, surgical removal of the thyroid gland, certain medications, radiation treatment or an iodine imbalance.

Symptoms of Hypothyroidism

Signs and symptoms of the disorder include:

  • Irregular periods
  • Weight gain even without increasing diet
  • Feelings of depression
  • Fatigue
  • Skin changes (pale or dry)
  • Hair loss
  • Slow heartrate
  • Puffiness in the face
  • Chronic constipation

While many of these symptoms are broad and can be related to many other illnesses, if you are experiencing several of these you should certainly talk to your doctor or one of our highly qualified DocChat physicians. The doctor will order blood tests to determine if your thyroid is underactive. Severe hypothyroidism will need to be treated immediately, as in rare cases it can lead to a life-threatening myxedema coma.


Treatment for hypothyroidism includes thyroid medications such as levothyroxine; it may take a while to find the right balance with these medications. Too high of a dose can cause symptoms of hyperthyroidism such as elevated or irregular heartbeat, tremors or insomnia. Follow-up blood tests will be conducted after a couple months to ensure your thyroid levels are healthy, and then about once a year as maintenance. These tests can help find the right medication balance by catching your levels if they rise or drop too much. People with heart disease will often start with a low dose of some of these medications as they have the unlikely potential to worsen some conditions.

Pregnancy And Hypothyroidism

It is particularly important for pregnant women suffering from hypothyroidism to get treatment right away as the condition can adversely affect the developing fetus. Pregnant women’s hormone levels will need to be closely monitored so the correct dose of medication is ensured. In some cases the condition may disappear after pregnancy, but sometimes it is a lifelong affliction. If you are pregnant and have some of the symptoms of hypothyroidism, it can’t hurt to visit your doctor to make sure you don’t have the condition.

Stay tuned later today to read our next post on the thyroid, ‘Hyperthyroidism’.