Primary hypothyroidism typically occurs due to damage to the thyroid. Symptoms can range from mild to severe and may include weight gain and tiredness.
Hypothyroidism is a condition in which the body does not produce enough thyroid hormones.
About 5% of people in the United States currently live with hypothyroidism. Primary hypothyroidism is the more common form of this condition.
The symptoms of primary hypothyroidism can range in severity from mild to severe. Symptoms may include tiredness, constipation, weight gain, and depression. Medications that replace thyroid hormones can help reduce or resolve these symptoms in most cases.
This article further explains primary hypothyroidism. It discusses what causes the condition, its symptoms, and how to treat it.
A note about sex and gender
Sex and gender exist on spectrums. This article will use the terms “male,” “female,” or both to refer to sex assigned at birth. Click here to learn more.
Primary hypothyroidism is a more common form of hypothyroidism. This condition occurs after damage to the thyroid gland occurs. This damage
The thyroid is a gland located at the front of the throat. This gland produces hormones that are crucial for typical body functions. Thyroid hormones are especially important for supporting metabolic processes.
With hypothyroidism, the thyroid gland does not produce enough of these hormones. This affects all other parts of the body and
The symptoms of primary hypothyroidism will differ from person to person. Some of the more common symptoms of this condition
Metabolic processes in the brain are important for supporting cognitive function and mental health. Primary hypothyroidism disrupts metabolic processes. This may lead to mental health effects such as depression.
Primary hypothyroidism may occur for a variety of reasons. Examples
- dietary deficiencies
- certain medications
- thyroid surgery
- autoimmune conditions
In order to make thyroid hormones, the thyroid gland requires iodine. This mineral
Females have an overall higher risk of developing iodine deficiency. Taking iodine supplements can help treat this deficiency and prevent further health complications. A person can speak with a doctor to learn more about helping to prevent or treat iodine deficiency.
Learn about iodine-rich foods.
Certain medical treatments
Research has indicated that certain medications
In addition to iodine deficiency and certain medical treatments, autoimmune conditions
Individuals with chronic autoimmune thyroiditis produce higher levels of antithyroid antibodies. These antibodies may harm the thyroid gland in certain cases. In time, this damage can lead to primary hypothyroidism.
A person can speak with a healthcare professional to learn more about autoimmune conditions and other causes of primary hypothyroidism.
To diagnose primary hypothyroidism, a doctor may begin with a physical exam. During this exam, they will determine whether an individual is experiencing symptoms of this condition. These symptoms can include fatigue, constipation, dry skin, and mood changes.
If an individual shows signs of primary hypothyroidism, a doctor will typically order blood tests. These tests determine the levels of thyroid hormones in the body.
A doctor may order different tests depending on individual circumstances. Generally, they order tests to determine the levels of thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH), triiodothyronine (T3), and thyroxine (T4) in a person’s body.
TSH is an important hormone because it instructs the thyroid on how much thyroid hormone to produce. When the thyroid does not produce enough thyroid hormones, the level of TSH rises. Because of this, a high TSH level may indicate primary hypothyroidism.
Learn about TSH testing.
Triiodothyronine and thyroxine
The thyroid produces the T3 and T4 hormones. These hormones both help the body expend energy. They are crucial for regulating body temperature, weight, and other functions. Low T3 or T4 levels may be a sign of primary hypothyroidism.
If levels of TSH, T3, or T4 fall outside the typical ranges, a doctor may diagnose primary hypothyroidism.
Many people experience symptom relief with levothyroxine, although it may not be suitable for everyone. For instance, the thyroid hormones levothyroxine helps produce can have serious effects on heart function. This means the medication may not be appropriate for those with a heart condition.
Individuals with primary hypothyroidism should speak with a healthcare professional to learn more about treatment options.
The following are some questions people frequently ask about primary hypothyroidism.
What is the difference between hypothyroidism and primary hypothyroidism?
Primary hypothyroidism occurs when the thyroid gland cannot produce enough thyroid hormones. Secondary hypothyroidism occurs when the thyroid gland functions correctly but the pituitary gland or hypothalamus does not.
Is primary hypothyroidism serious?
Many people with primary hypothyroidism can lead full, otherwise typical lives with treatment. However, some people
In certain cases, primary hypothyroidism
What is the main cause of primary hypothyroidism?
There is no single cause of primary hypothyroidism, as the cause
Individuals with this condition can speak with a doctor to learn more.
Primary hypothyroidism occurs when the thyroid cannot produce enough thyroid hormones. These hormones are important for maintaining the body’s metabolic processes.
Individuals with this condition may experience symptoms such as tiredness, weight gain, constipation, and muscle pain. People experiencing these or other symptoms should visit a healthcare professional for an evaluation.
With an accurate diagnosis and prompt treatment, it is possible to manage the symptoms of primary hypothyroidism.