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Hypothyroidism (Underactive Thyroid)

How Is Hypothyroidism Treated?

If you have hypothyroidism, your doctor will prescribe a synthetic (man-made) thyroid hormone T4. You take this pill every day. Certain other medications can interfere with how your body absorbs synthetic thyroid hormone. Make sure you doctor knows about all the medicines, herbs, and supplements you take, including over-the-counter products.

You will need regular blood tests to check your thyroid hormone levels. Your doctor may need to adjust your medication dose from time to time.

Complications of Hypothyroidism

Untreated, hypothyroidism may cause:

  • Heart problems
  • Infertility
  • Joint pain
  • Obesity

Thyroid problems in a pregnant woman can affect the developing baby. During the first three months of pregnancy, the baby receives all thyroid hormone from its mother. If the mother has hypothyroidism, the baby does not get enough thyroid hormone. This can lead to problems with mental development.

Extremely low levels of thyroid hormone can cause a life-threatening condition called myxedema. Myxedema is the most severe form of hypothyroidism. A person with myxedema can lose consciousness or go into a coma. The condition can also cause the body temperature to drop very low, which can cause death.

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WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by David T. Derrer, MD on June 16, 2013

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