Subclinical Hypothyroidism

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 weight.

What causes or increases my risk for subclinical hypothyroidism?

  • An autoimmune disease is an immune system problem that may make your body attack your thyroid gland. Hashimoto disease is the most common autoimmune disease that causes hypothyroidism.

  • A family history of hypothyroidism or an autoimmune disease can increase your risk of subclinical hypothyroidism.

  • Certain medicines , such as antithyroid medicines, can cause hypothyroidism.

  • Treatments such as radiation therapy used to treat cancers of the head and neck can damage your thyroid gland. Thyroid surgery also makes you more likely to develop subclinical hypothyroidism.

  • Other diseases such as diabetes or conditions that affect 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 measure the levels of TSH and thyroid hormones in your blood.

  • A thyroid scan shows how well your thyroid is working. You may be given a dye before the pictures are taken to help caregivers see your thyroid better. Tell the caregiver if you have ever had an allergic reaction to contrast dye.

  • An ultrasound uses sound waves to show pictures of your thyroid on a monitor.

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 replacement hormone may be given to bring your thyroid hormone level back to normal.

When should I contact my caregiver?

  • 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 or call 911?

  • 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.

Care Agreement

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. 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.

© 2013 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.

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