Information for Patients
Your thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland in your neck, just above your collarbone. It is one of your endocrine glands, which make hormones. Thyroid hormones control the rate of many activities in your body. These include how fast you burn calories and how fast your heart beats. All of these activities are your body's metabolism. If your thyroid gland is not active enough, it does not make enough thyroid hormone to meet your body's needs. This condition is hypothyroidism.
Hypothyroidism is more common in women, people with other thyroid problems, and those over 60 years old. Hashimoto's disease, an autoimmune disorder, is the most common cause. Other causes include thyroid nodules, thyroiditis, congenital hypothyroidism, surgical removal of part or all of the thyroid, radiation treatment of the thyroid, and some medicines.
The symptoms can vary from person to person. They may include
- Weight gain
- A puffy face
- Cold intolerance
- Joint and muscle pain
- Dry skin
- Dry, thinning hair
- Decreased sweating
- Heavy or irregular menstrual periods and fertility problems
- Slowed heart rate
To diagnose hypothyroidism, your doctor will do a physical exam, look at your symptoms, and do thyroid tests. Treatment is with synthetic thyroid hormone, taken every day.
NIH: National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases
Congenital hypothyroidism Congenital hypothyroidism is a partial or complete loss of function of the thyroid gland (hypothyroidism) that affects infants from birth (congenital). The thyroid gland is a butterfly-shaped tissue in the lower neck. It makes iodine-containing hormones that play an important role in regulating growth, brain development, and the rate of chemical reactions in the body (metabolism). People with congenital hypothyroidism have lower-than-normal levels of these important hormones.Congenital hypothyroidism occurs when the thyroid gland fails to develop or function properly. In 80 to 85 percent of cases, the thyroid gland is absent, severely reduced in size (hypoplastic), or abnormally located. These cases are classified as thyroid dysgenesis. In the remainder of cases, a normal-sized or enlarged thyroid gland (goiter) is present, but production of thyroid hormones is decreased or absent. Most of these cases occur when one of several steps in the hormone synthesis process is impaired; these cases are classified as thyroid dyshormonogenesis. Less commonly, reduction or absence of thyroid hormone production is caused by impaired stimulation of the production process (which is normally done by a structure at the base of the brain called the pituitary gland), even though the process itself is unimpaired. These cases are classified as central (or pituitary) hypothyroidism.Signs and symptoms of congenital hypothyroidism result from the shortage of thyroid hormones. Affected babies may show no features of the condition, although some babies with congenital hypothyroidism are less active and sleep more than normal. They may have difficulty feeding and experience constipation. If untreated, congenital hypothyroidism can lead to intellectual disability and slow growth. In the United States and many other countries, all hospitals test newborns for congenital hypothyroidism. If treatment begins in the first two weeks after birth, infants usually develop normally.Congenital hypothyroidism can also occur as part of syndromes that affect other organs and tissues in the body. These forms of the condition are described as syndromic. Some common forms of syndromic hypothyroidism include Pendred syndrome, Bamforth-Lazarus syndrome, and brain-lung-thyroid syndrome.