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Hypothyroidism is when the thyroid gland does not make enough hormones. The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland in the front of the neck. A healthy thyroid makes the hormones thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3). These play many roles in the body, such as:
If it is not treated, it can lead to many health problems, such as obesity and heart disease.
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Hashimoto thyroiditis is the most common cause. A problem with the immune system causes it to attack thyroid gland cells.
Other causes are:
Chaker L, Bianco AC, et al. Hypothyroidism. Lancet. 2017 Sep 23;390(10101):1550-1562.
Hypothyroidism in adults. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/hypothyroidism-in-adults. Accessed February 10, 2021.
Hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid). National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases website. Available at: https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/endocrine-diseases/hypothyroidism. Accessed February 10, 2021.
Last reviewed December 2020 by EBSCO Medical Review Board James P. Cornell, MD Last Updated: 2/10/2021