What is subclinical hypothyroidism?
Subclinical hypothyroidism is a condition that develops when your thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) level is higher than normal. TSH is made in the brain and controls how much thyroid hormones are made. Thyroid hormones help control body temperature, heart rate, growth, and how you gain or lose weight.
What causes subclinical hypothyroidism?
- Autoimmune disease: A problem with the immune system may make your body attack your thyroid gland. Hashimoto's disease is the most common autoimmune disease that causes hypothyroidism.
- Family history: Your risk is greater if a family member has hypothyroidism or an autoimmune disease.
- Medicines: Ask your caregiver if any of the medicines you are taking can cause hypothyroidism.
- Treatments: Radiation therapy used to treat cancers of the head and neck can cause problems with the thyroid gland. Thyroid surgery can make you more likely to develop a thyroid problem.
- Other diseases: Diabetes (high blood sugar) or conditions affecting the pituitary, hypothalamus, or thyroid gland can cause subclinical hypothyroidism.
What are the signs and symptoms of subclinical hypothyroidism?
You may have no signs and symptoms, or you may have general signs and symptoms of hypothyroidism. These include depression, weight gain, dry or flaky skin, body weakness, or feeling cold easily. You may have more signs and symptoms over time if your condition worsens.
How is subclinical hypothyroidism diagnosed?
- Blood tests: These tests measure the levels of TSH and thyroid hormones in your blood. This information may also be used to see how well any treatments are working.
- Thyroid scan: This test shows caregivers how well your thyroid is working. Radioactive dye is put into your IV or is given to you to drink. The working part of the thyroid gland absorbs (soaks up) the dye. Two to 48 hours later, caregivers put a machine called a scintillator over your neck. The machine takes pictures showing the areas of your thyroid that absorbed the dye.
- Thyroid ultrasound: This is a test using sound waves to look at your thyroid gland. Pictures of your thyroid gland show up on a TV-like screen.
How is subclinical hypothyroidism treated?
Treatment depends on the amounts of TSH and thyroid hormones in your body. Caregivers need to consider your health, age, and your signs and symptoms. Thyroid hormones may be given if your thyroid hormone levels are lower normal.
When should I contact my caregiver?
Contact your caregiver if:
- You have a fever.
- You have pain, redness, and swelling in your muscles and joints.
- You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.
When should I seek immediate care?
Seek care immediately or call 911 if:
- You have sudden chest pain or trouble breathing.
- You have swelling in your legs, ankles, or feet.
- You faint or have a seizure.
- Your heart is beating faster or slower than is normal for you, or you feel restless.
- Your signs and symptoms return or become worse.
You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment.
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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.