Ruchi Mathur, MD, FRCP(C)
Ruchi Mathur, MD, FRCP(C) is an Attending Physician with the Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism and Associate Director of Clinical Research, Recruitment and Phenotyping with the Center for Androgen Related Disorders, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center.
William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.
In this Article
- Hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid) definition and facts
- What is hypothyroidism?
- What is subclinical hypothyroidism?
- What are the signs and symptoms of hypothyroidism?
- What are the symptoms of severe hypothyroidism? What is myxedema coma?
- Where is the thyroid located? What are thyroid hormones?
- What causes hypothyroidism?
- Are there special foods or diets for hypothyroidism?
- What tests diagnose hypothyroidism?
- What is the treatment for hypothyroidism?
- What happens if hypothyroidism goes untreated? What are the complications?
- What should I do if I have signs or symptoms of hypothyroidism?
- Thyroid FAQs
- Find a local Endocrinologist in your town
Are there special foods or diets for hypothyroidism?
There is no special diet required for people with hypothyroidism. In the US, routine supplementation of salt, flour, and other foods with iodine has decreased the rates of hypothyroidism caused by an iodine deficiency.
What tests diagnose hypothyroidism?
- People with symptoms of fatigue, cold intolerance, constipation, and dry, flaky skin may have hypothyroidism. A blood test can confirm the diagnosis.
- "Secondary" or "tertiary" hypothyroidism occurs when the decrease in thyroid hormone is due to a defect of the pituitary gland or hypothalamus. A special test, known as the TRH test, can help distinguish if the disease is caused by a defect in the pituitary or the hypothalamus. This test requires an injection of the TRH hormone and is performed by a doctor that treats thyroid conditions (endocrinologist or hormone specialist).
- Blood work confirms the diagnosis of hypothyroidism, but does not identify the cause. A combination of the patient's clinical history, antibody screening, and a thyroid scan can help diagnose the underlying thyroid problem more clearly.
- An MRI of the brain and other tests may be ordered if the cause is thought to be from pituitary gland or hypothalamic problems.
What is the treatment for hypothyroidism?
Hypothyroidism can be easily treated with thyroid hormone replacement. The preferred treatment for most people with an underactive thyroid is levothyroxine sodium (Levoxyl, Synthroid). This is a more stable form of thyroid hormone and requires once a day dosing.Liothyronine sodium (Cytomel) also may be prescribed to treat hypothyroidism under certain conditions.
With the exception of certain conditions, the treatment of hypothyroidism requires life-long therapy. However, over treating hypothyroidism with excessive thyroid medication is potentially harmful and can cause problems with heart palpitations and blood pressure control, and contribute to osteoporosis.
What happens if hypothyroidism goes untreated? What are the complications?
What should I do if I have signs or symptoms of hypothyroidism?
If you have signs or symptoms the same or similar to hypothyroidism, discuss them (for example, weight gain, constipation, or fatigue) with your doctor or other healthcare professional. A simple blood test is the first step in the diagnosis. If you need treatment for hypothyroidism, let your doctor know of any concerns or questions you have about the available treatment, including home or natural remedies.
REFERENCE: Orlander, PR, MD. Hypothyroidism. Medscape. Updated: Feb 26, 2018.
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