Written on March 7, 2023 by Sendra Yang, PharmD, MBA. To give you technically accurate, evidence-based information, content published on the Everlywell blog is reviewed by credentialed professionals with expertise in medical and bioscience fields.
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Hypothyroidism is an underactive thyroid condition where there are not enough thyroid hormones for your body to function and use energy [1,2]. The thyroid is a “small, butterfly-shaped gland” on the front lower side of your neck. The primary role of the thyroid gland is to produce thyroid hormones to be released into the blood . About 5 out of 100 people in the United States, 12 years and older, have hypothyroidism .
Anyone can develop hypothyroidism; however, you are at an increased risk if you [1,3]:
The thyroid gland produces two major hormones: thyroxine (T-4) and triiodothyronine (T-3) . Thyroid hormones are vital to the body working appropriately [3,4]. Thyroid hormones help to regulate how your body uses energy and impact almost every organ . It functions to keep the body warm and keeps organs such as the brain, heart, and muscles working as they should . Without adequate thyroid hormones, bodily functions essentially decrease .
You may not notice symptoms or know you have the disease because hypothyroidism symptoms can slowly manifest and may take years . Symptoms can differ from one person to another, and you may think some symptoms are just part of aging . Some of the common signs and symptoms of hypothyroidism include [1-3]:
Hypothyroidism has genetic elements to the condition. It is estimated that up to 65% of circulating T-3 and T-4 hormones are genetically determined . Although the exact genes responsible for thyroid hormones have yet to be identified, a few genes are associated with thyroid function and clinical presentation . Genes with variants or mutations and the interactions of multiple genes can be involved in the metabolism of thyroid hormones and affect the development of thyroid diseases . A family history of thyroid disease is a risk factor for hypothyroidism .
Several other thyroid conditions also have a genetic component. Congenital hypothyroidism is a rare thyroid disorder in newborn babies with insufficient thyroid hormones [3,6]. Multiple gene defects with inherited mutations have been implicated in congenital hypothyroidism . About 20%-30% of people with hypothyroidism are affected by an autoimmune condition called Hashimoto’s disease [7,8]. The cause of Hashimoto’s disease is thought to be partly genetics and typically results in the body attacking the thyroid gland .
Hypothyroidism may be caused by genetic and environmental, including [1-3]:
Various tests can be ordered to help confirm a diagnosis of hypothyroidism, based on your symptoms, medical and family history, and a physical exam . Your provider can help recommend testing and the next steps for you.
Another option is at-home lab testing. At-home thyroid blood tests, such as the Everlywell Thyroid Test, are a convenient starting point for determining whether you may have a thyroid condition and will indicate to you what you should do next.
At Everlywell, you can also schedule an online thyroid telehealth visit if you think you have symptoms related to your thyroid. You can discuss symptoms like fatigue, restlessness, mood changes, cold sensitivity, or weight changes with a healthcare provider for recommendations.