Hypothyroidism Symptoms
Hypothyroidism Diagnosis
Hypothyroidism Treatment
Causes of Hypothyroidism
Hypothyroidism Diet
Hypothyroidism & Iodine
Is Hypothyroidism Genetic
Pregnancy & Hypothyroidism
Diabetes & Hypothyroidism
Yoga & Hypothyroidism
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Is Hypothyroidism Genetic/Hereditary?

What is Hypothyroidism?

Hypothyroidism is a condition where a person's thyroid does not produce enough thyroid hormone. The thyroid is a gland found in the front of the neck and it controls several body functions, such as metabolism and cholesterol levels. It produces the hormones T4 (or thyroxine) and T3 (or triiodothyronine).

The most common cause of hypothyroidism worldwide is iodine deficiency. In the United States Hashimoto's thyroiditis is the most common cause of hypothyroidism.

How Many People Have Thyroid Disorders?

In the United States, an estimated 27 million people suffers from a thyroid disease. About half of these people do not get their thyroid disorder diagnosed or treated. According to statistics, women are more prone to thyroid problems than men, as 8 out of 10 diagnosed patients are women.

Is Hypothyroidism Hereditary?

Hypothyroidism is hereditary. If a person in your family has hypothyroidism there's an increased chance that you will have it as well. However this could also mean that you will develop a different thyroid problem. One family member may have a problem with low supply of thyroid hormones while another may have an enlarged thyroid gland or a goiter.

Causes Of Hypothyroidism Can Be Genetic/Hereditary

Although iodine deficiency is the most common cause of hypothyroidism worldwide, getting enough iodine is not usually a problem in the United States. Here hypothyroidism is usually caused by hereditary diseases, such as Hashimoto's thyroiditis and thyroid cancer.

Hashimoto's thyroiditis affects up to 10 million people in the United States, including an estimated 10% of women over 30. Hashimoto's thyroiditis can result in hypothyroidism because the body's immune system attacks the thyroid gland. This can cause the thyroid to create less hormone.

Other inherited diseases which increase the likelihood of hypothyroidism include type 1 diabetes, Addison's disease and rheumatoid arthritis.

See Causes Of Hypothyroidism for more about hypothyroidism causes.

Hypothyroidism At Birth

Babies can also have hypothyroidism from birth, especially if family members have hypothyroidism and the baby inherits it. Sometimes the baby is born without a thyroid gland, or the gland isn't completely developed at birth. There are also cases where the newborn's thyroid is developed but it doesn't produce enough thyroid hormones.

Is Hypothyroidism Contagious?

Hypothyroidism isn't airborne or contagious, as most of the causes are genetic. A person with hypothyroidism can't pass the disease to someone else like a cold is passed from one person to another.

Preventing Hypothyroidism

Although some causes and risk factors of hypothyroidism can be inherited, having them in your genes does not mean for certain that you will develop hypothyroidism. Even if you have a family history of thyroid problems you can do healthy things such as exercise, eating right and reducing stress to prevent hypothyroidism.

You can also talk to your doctor about ways to prevent hypothyroidism. If you already have hypothyroidism you should still talk to your doctor about treatments. The Hypothyroidism Treatment page has more information about treatments.

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