The thyroid gland is a butterfly-shaped gland in the front of the neck. It produces hormones that control metabolism. Hypothyroidism happens when the thyroid gland does not produce enough thyroid hormone. The most common form of hypothyroidism is Hashimoto's thyroiditis.
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Hashimoto's thyroiditis occurs when the immune system produces antibodies that attack cells of the thyroid gland. This causes thyroid swelling and loss of function. Other causes include:
- Idiopathic thyroid atrophy—destruction of thyroid tissue for unknown reasons
- Iodine deficiency—when a thyroid gland needs iodine to produce thyroid hormone (rare in the United States)
- Subacute thyroiditis—following a viral upper respiratory tract infection
- Medical treatments— radiation to the head and neck or surgical removal of the thyroid gland (called subtotal thyroidectomy)
- Medicines (such as lithium , iodine, amiodarone , interleukins)
- Certain diseases (such as cancer or infection)
- Pituitary adenoma —benign tumor of the pituitary gland
Last reviewedMarch 2013by Brian Randall, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.