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Through the hormones it produces, the thyroid gland influences almost all of the metabolic processes in your body. Thyroid disorders can range from a small, harmless goiter (enlarged gland) that needs no treatment to life-threatening cancer. The most common thyroid problems involve abnormal production of thyroid hormones. Too much thyroid hormone results in a condition known as hyperthyroidism. Insufficient hormone production leads to hypothyroidism.

Although the effects can be unpleasant or uncomfortable, most thyroid problems can be managed well if properly diagnosed and treated.


All types of hyperthyroidism are due to an overproduction of thyroid hormones, but the condition can occur in several ways:

  • iodine deficiency
  • autoimmune diseases, in which your immune system attacks your own body, leading either to hyperthyroidism (caused by Graves’ disease) or hypothyroidism (caused by Hashimoto’s thyroiditis)
  • inflammation of the thyroid (which may or may not cause pain), caused by a virus or bacteria
  • nodules, or non-cancerous lumps, inside the thyroid
  • cancerous tumours on the thyroid gland
  • certain medical treatments, including radiation therapy, thyroid surgery, and some medications
  • some genetic disorders.

Occasionally, pregnancy can cause thyroid problems to start or get worse. If left untreated, this can cause problems for mother and baby, including miscarriage, premature birth or stillbirth.


Hypothyroidism Causes

  • Loss of thyroid tissue: Treatment of hyperthyroidism by radioactive destruction of thyroid tissue or surgical removal of thyroid tissue can result in hypothyroidism.
  • Antithyroid antibodies: These may be present in people who have type 1 diabetes, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, chronic hepatitis, or Sjogren’s syndrome. These antibodies may cause decreased production of thyroid hormones because of thyroid destruction. Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, the most common cause of hypothyroidism in an adult, occurs because of autoimmune destruction of the thyroid results in a decreased production of thyroid hormone and an increased amount of TSH.
  • Congenital defects in the production of thyroid hormone: Hypothyroidism can be present from birth. This is commonly discovered early with nationwide newborn screening for this disease. When one of the steps in thyroid hormone synthesis is defective, the production of thyroid hormone is reduced, with a subsequent increase in TSH. The increased TSH results in a goiter (enlargement of the thyroid gland itself that can be seen as an obvious swelling in the front of the neck). If the metabolic block is severe, thyroid hormone levels are low begining at birth, resulting in mental retardation, goiter, and short stature (hypothyroid cretinsim).
  • Medications: Some medications, particularly,lithium,Eskalith,Lithobid, may cause a drug-induced hypothyroidism.

Risk factors

Many factors contribute to the risk of developing thyroid disease or thyroid conditions. Here is a look at some of those key risk factors.

  • Being female
  • Being older than age 60
  • Exposure to radiation in the neck
  • Prior thyroid surgery
  • Having a family history of thyroid disease
  • Having a family history of autoimmune disease
  • Having an autoimmune disease
  • Being of Caucasian or Asian ethnicity
  • Experiencing hormonal changes due to pregnancy, childbirth, or menopause
  • Personal history of lithium use (often prescribed for bipolar disorder
  • Having chromosomal abnormalities like Down syndrome or Turner’s syndrome

When to see a doctor

While you might first consult your family physician.

Before your appointment, if you following problems:

  • Feeling tired, sluggish, or weak.
  • Memory problems, depression, or difficulty concentrating.
  • An inability to tolerate cold.
  • Dry skin, brittle nails, or a yellowish tint to the skin.
  • Constipation
  • Heavy or irregular menstrual periods that may last longer than 5 to 7 days.

Dr. Vishal Sharma

General Physician (Sharma Clinic)

You can reach Dr. Vishal Sharma by calling him on +91-9915086368 or click here to book an appointment online to visit him.