What is Hypothyroidism?

Hypothyroidism is a type of thyroid disorder which is caused when the thyroid gland becomes less active and produces fewer hormones than normal. The thyroid gland is a small, butterfly-shaped gland present in the lower neck and is responsible for producing the hormones- triiodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine (T4). These hormones play an important role in controlling the body’s metabolism. Hypothyroidism disturbs the balance of hormones and chemical reactions that occur in the body.


The signs and symptoms of hypothyroidism may not be visible in the initial stages but as the disease progresses, the following symptoms are seen in the patient:

  • Weakness and fatigue
  • Sensitivity towards cold
  • Constipation
  • Dry skin
  • Weight gain
  • Face feels puffy
  • Muscle pain
  • High cholesterol levels
  • Swelling and ache in joints
  • Irregular menstrual periods
  • Thinning of hair
  • Stress and anxiety
  • Loss of memory


The causes of hypothyroidism could be any of the following:

  • Autoimmune disease: Autoimmune disease is a disorder in which the immune system starts producing antibodies that damage the body’s own tissues. These antibodies disturb the thyroid's ability to produce hormones and may lead to hypothyroidism.
  • Congenital disease: The congenital disease is seen in infants who may be born with a defective thyroid gland, an under- developed thyroid gland or with no thyroid gland.
  • Pituitary gland disorder: In this disease, the pituitary gland is unable to produce enough thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) which might lead to hypothyroidism.
  • In some cases, women are diagnosed with hypothyroidism during or after pregnancy. If not treated properly, Hypothyroidism may lead to miscarriage, premature delivery or rise in blood pressure during the last three months of pregnancy.
  • Deficiency of iodine: Iodine is an important requirement for the production of thyroid hormones. It is found majorly in seafood, seaweed and plants grown in iodized salt. However, the intake of large quantities of iodine may also cause hypothyroidism.



  • The risk of developing hypothyroidism increases with age
  • Having autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis or lupus which is a chronic inflammatory condition
  • The disease could be transferred through the family genes
  • Treatment with radioactive iodine or anti-thyroid medications
  • Exposure to radiation in the neck or upper chest area
  • Having a thyroid surgery
  • Pregnancy


Hypothyroidism can’t be completely prevented. However, if a person is at a risk of having the disease, he or she should consult a doctor and get a screening test done. One should understand the risk factors, recognise the symptoms, and get an early diagnosis done to prevent complications. The complications may become severe if hypothyroidism is not treated properly.

How is it diagnosed?

The doctors opt for screening tests when a person is showing symptoms of hypothyroidism like weakness, fatigue, dry skin etc. The doctors also advise old women and expecting mothers to go through s...

How is it treated?

The treatment for hypothyroidism involves the use of oral medicines like synthetic thyroid hormone levothyroxine that normalize the hormone levels and helps in restoring the functions of the thyroid gland. The medication also helps in reducing the..

  • Medications

    The right dosage of levothyroxine should be consumed or it could lead to problems like increased appetite, insomnia and shakiness.

  • Alternative medication

    The thyroid hormone is also present in the natural extracts which are obtained from the thyroid glands of pigs. These products contain both thyroxine and triiodothyronine and are often used by doctors while treating hypothyroidism.

When do I contact the doctor?

One should consult a doctor as soon as they start noticing any signs or symptoms of hypothyroidism in a person. If a person has high blood cholesterol, then one should consult the doctor and get a screening test for hypothyroidism done.

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How does Medanta provide care?

Medanta ensures expert care for its patients who are diagnosed with hypothyroidism at the Institute of Endocrinology & Diabetology.

The Endocrinology & Diabetology division offers expert care for various metabolic, pituitary,..

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