13 Most Common Causes Of Hypothyroidism In Women, Men And Children

Hypothyroidism refers to the under-active thyroid gland and is estimated that at least 3 to 5 percent of the total population will have some form of hypothyroidism. Earlier to this we have checked out the most dangerous signs and symptoms of hypothyroidism and now its turn to check the most common causes of hypothyroidism. Myxedema, an advanced stage of hypothyroidism may be considered as a life threatening condition that results from long- term undiagnosed hypothyroidism.

Chances of getting affected by this kind of hypothyroidism are 6 times more likely in women than in men. Myxedema mostly occurs in adults, while congenital hypothyroidism is found in infants. Below are the 13 most common causes of hypothyroidism in women, men and children.​

  • Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis
  • Pituitary Problems
  • Hypothalamus Problems
  • Excess/ Lack of Iodine
  • Excess Intake of Goitrogenic Foods
  • Environmental Changes
  • Over Treatment or Thyroid Removal Surgeries
  • Radiation Therapy to Face/Neck/Chest
  • Trauma from any Surgical Accidents
  • Pregnancy/ Childbirth
  • Perchlorate and Exposure to Toxic Chemicals
  • Usage of Certain Medications
  • Iodine Supplements

Most Important Causes of Hypothyroidism

Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis​

Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, a type of autoimmune disease, strikes adults over the age of thirty and is more frequent in women. It is referred to as lymphocyctic thyroiditis, as it only occurs when lymphocytic attacks the thyroid gland. This constant attack destroys thyroid cells which disturbs the thyroid cell functions causing hypothyroidism.

The inflammation and over stimulation of the thyroid cells by TSH from pituitary glands develops a goiter. The symptoms of the Hashimoto’s thyroiditis include a mild pressure and fatigue but most of the times it may go undetected for years. It is also proved that even lack of iodine also plays an important role in autoimmune attacks on the thyroid gland.​

Pituitary Problems​

Pituitary tumor is the one that makes large amounts of a hormone called prolactin, also known as prolactinoma. This condition results in the discharge of milk from the breasts or interferes with fertility in both men and women. These types of tumors are treated with medications rather than radiation therapies which restore the normal functioning of pituitary gland. The other type of pituitary tumor is the one that doesn’t seem to produce any particular hormone in excess but block the production of normal hormone production of thyroid hormone.

These kinds of pituitary tumors can be removed by a neurosurgeon, usually through an incision under the upper lip. Some tumors can build up a hormone known as ACTH causing cushing’s disease in which high levels of steroids are made. This serious condition is also treated by a transsphenoidal hypophysectomy, which is a threat to hypothyroidism from the pituitary damage.​

Hypothalamus Problems​

The portion of brain that is just above the pituitary rarely results in some problems and also in a condition called craniopharyngioma. This is a situation where the collections of skin type cells were left behind during fetal development and become stuck in that portion of brain. These cells results in the formation of cysts that affect the sensitive brain tissue of the hypothalamus.

This portion of brain plays a key role in stimulating the pituitary gland to release its own hormones. As per thyroid terms, this means that enough of TRH, a TSH releasing hormone is not sent to the pituitary gland. This consequently causes the pituitary gland to fail in making enough of TSH that stimulated thyroid gland causing hypothyroidism.​

Excess/ Lack of Iodine

The second major cause that causes hypothyroidism is lack of adequate amount of iodine intake which is due to the lack of iodine intake in our diet and soil depletion. A deficiency of iodine can easily cause hypothyroidism as iodine is necessary in the synthesis, storage and secretion of thyroid hormones.

Also in some exceptional cases too much of iodine are believed to be responsible for triggering goiters and thyroid disorders too. An excess amount of iodine in the diet stimulates the immune system to attack the anti bodies and affect the normal amounts of iodine leading to Hashimoto’s thyroiditis.

Excess Intake of Goitrogenic Foods

Over consumption of these kinds of food results in hypothyroidism, as they promote the growth of goiters. The only concern is that when served raw as cooking may eliminate or reduce the goitrogenic potential. They include foods such as turnips, cabbage, African cassava, millet, babassu, brussel sprouts, rutabaga, kohlrabi, cauliflower, kale and soy products.

Soy products have definite amount of antithyroid and goitrogenic effect. Long term consumption of soy products may result in the development of goiters which ultimately leads to the development of autoimmune diseases.

Environmental Changes

Fluoride and chlorine content can interfere in the proper conversion of thyroid hormones resulting in hypothyroidism. Another issue is that, mercury which is most commonly used in dental fillings can disable the thyroid’s ability to convert T4 to T3 causing hypothyroidism.

Bisphenol A, otherwise called as BPA, a chemical found in plastic bottles and canned food linings cause thyroid changes in pregnant women and baby boys. Pregnant women who are exposed to higher levels of the compound called BPA gave birth to the baby boys with the lower levels of thyroid hormones.

Over Treatment or Thyroid Removal Surgeries

Surgery to remove the thyroid will lead to hypothyroidism. If thyroid gland is partially removed, the remaining gland will still be able to produce sufficient amount of thyroid hormones required by the body. Another concern is that radioactive treatment of iodine destroys the cells in thyroid gland which causes hypothyroidism.

This treatment is suggested for the people who have a overactive thyroid gland, a condition known as hyperthyroidism. A person suffering from Hashimoto’s thyroiditis and Graves’ disease is also given this treatment. This results in hypothyroidism after few months.

Radiation Therapy to Face/Neck/Chest

Treatment of certain cancers like lymphoma requires radiation to the neck. When this happens it ultimately damages the cells in the thyroid gland which makes it difficult to produce thyroid gland. Other treatments conducted for the acne or for Hodgkins disease may be considered as the pre cursors to in developing thyroid disease, especially when the thyroid area is not protected properly.

Trauma from any Surgical Accidents

Trauma such as from automobile accidents, surgery, or severe uterine hemorrhage during the child birth can result in hypopituitarism, a condition known as Sheeans Syndrome can cause hypothyroidism. Hysterectomy, Cholecystectomy, and Tonsillectomy can increase the hypothyroid risks in adults. Whiplash, a neck trauma also has the ability to cause hypothyroidism.

Pregnancy/ Childbirth

Though the reason is obscure, doctors estimate that more than 5 to 10 percent of women experience the inflammation of the thyroid after the pregnancy. This condition is referred as postpartum thyroiditis. This condition in women results in huge levels of thyroid hormone levels followed by a sharp drop in thyroid hormone production.

However, this condition does not lone for long, and women will regain their normal thyroid hormone levels. Childbirth can be considered as a hormonal trigger for Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. Some babies may be born with an incomplete growth of thyroid gland at the time of birth that functions improperly. This results in a condition known as congenital hypothyroidism.

Perchlorate and Exposure to Toxic Chemicals

Ammonium perchlorate or perchloric acid, otherwise called as Perchlorate blocks the iodine from entering the thyroid and prevents the further synthesis of thyroid hormone in the thyroid gland. This compound is found in areas particularly near rocket fuel or firework plants. Exposure to some chemical compounds like dioxins, MTBE, endocrine disrupters increases the risk of developing thyroid diseases.

Usage of Certain Medications

Medicines that are used to treat psychiatric conditions, certain heart problems and other conditions like cancer may affect the production of thyroid hormone. These include medicines like interferon alpha, lithium, amiodarone (Cordarone) and interleukin – 2. Inducing pharmaceutical drugs may also be one of the causes of hypothyroidism. Lithium used in the treatment of bipolar maniac depressive disorder can result in goiter and inhibits thyroid hormone release.

Iodine Supplements

People who get thyroid cancer, iodine supplementation has decreased the number of follicular thyroid cancers and increasing the number of papillary thyroid cancers which has changed some of the cancer types too. Those who take high doses of iodine once in a while, such as iodine containing water purification tablets can shut off the thyroid gland and reduce the production of thyroid hormone. Most people take kelp (seaweed) as a health measure to get enough thyroid hormone but this instead results in the excess levels of iodine. Hence it is not recommended.

In general, your thyroid gland will just make the use of about a milligram of iodine per week to make thyroid hormone. So following a balanced diet is sufficient to provide enough thyroids for the average thyroid gland. Strict sodium free or the salt free diet or a diet too high in fiber may prevent you from absorbing too much of iodine. Low iodine diets are necessary for thyroid cancer patients undergoing thyroid scans.

These are some of the most common causes of hypothyroidism and going through blood tests in some cases may help you take necessary measures to prevent hypothyroidism restoring normal thyroid hormone levels.

Christine

About the Author

Christine

As a women who has hypothyroidism, I would like to share all of my knowledge to all of you about hypothyroidism and how can you make change of your life.

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