|Hypothyroidism is the underproduction of hormones by a gland in the neck called the thyroid gland, which is located in the front of the neck, near the "Adam's apple." Its function is to produce hormones (thyroid hormones) that are responsible for regulating the body's metabolism. When the thyroid does not produce sufficient levels of thyroid hormones, many body systems are affected. The body systems essentially slow down.|
There are several causes of hypothyroidism. This condition can result when the thyroid gland itself becomes damaged or diseased (e.g., Hashimoto's thyroiditis), which is the most common cause; after surgical removal of the thyroid; or after treatment of an overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism). Hypothyroidism can also result when another hormone-producing gland (the pituitary gland) or a part of the brain (hypothalamus) fails to stimulate the activity of the thyroid. Sometimes, hypothyroidism is due to a lack of iodine in the diet, although this has become increasingly rare with the availability of iodine-supplemented salt (iodized salt). Autoimmune diseases may be associated with hypothyroidism such as celiac disease.
Risk: Risk factors for hypothyroidism include obesity and thyroid surgery. This disease affects women 3 to 4 times more often than men ("Hypothyroidism"). It can occur at any age but typically strikes as one gets older. Those over 50 years of age are more at risk (Rennert).
Incidence and Prevalence: Hypothyroidism is the most common type of thyroid disorder, far more common than overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism).
Source: Medical Disability Advisor