Being hypothyroid is one of the most common health problems in North America. The term means that you don't have enough thyroid hormone in your body to function normally. Usually this is because the thyroid gland is underactive and is not making enough thyroid hormone for your body's requirements. Hypothyroidism can be mild, moderate, or severe. People most at risk for hypothyroidism are women, older individuals (over sixty), those with a family history of thyroid disease, or those with other autoimmune diseases (such as pernicious anemia, type 1 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, or lupus).
The most recent population screening studies show that the prevalence of mild hypothyroidism in the general population is 4 to 10 percent, and in people over sixty, 7 to 26 percent. And in those population studies, hypothyroidism indeed affects women much more frequently than men.
If you've been diagnosed with a thyroid disorder of any kind, you will probably experience hypothyroidism at some point because the treatments for other thyroid conditions usually result in hypothyroidism (quite deliberately). This chapter explains the many possible causes of hypothyroidism, the symptoms of hypothyroidism, and treatment with thyroid hormone. It also discusses the many conditions that can mimic, or mask, hypothyroidism, such as depression.
Was this article helpful?