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A risk factor is something that increases your chances of getting a disease or condition.

It is possible to develop hypothyroidism with or without the risk factors listed below. Your chances of developing hypothyroidism increase depending on the number of risk factors you have. If you have a number of risk factors, ask your doctor what you can do to reduce your risk.

Medical Conditions

There are several medical conditions known to increase your risk of hypothyroidism. These include:

  • Pregnancy—Less than 10% of women develop postpartum thyroiditis. This condition is best described as hyperthyroidism that is followed by hypothyroidism. These women usually get better without treatment. Treatment is sometimes needed if this happens again. This condition can also happen with other causes of hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism.
  • A history of other autoimmune diseases, such as:
  • Having received radiation to the thyroid tissue or the neck or chest
  • Having had thyroid surgery in the past
  • Injury
  • Pituitary gland disorders

Age

Your risk of hypothyroidism increases with age, especially after age 65 years.

Gender

Women are more likely to develop the condition than men.

Genetic factors

If any of your family members have hypothyroidism, you are at greater risk.

Race/Ethnicity

Hypothyroidism occurs more often in Caucasians than in African Americans.

References:

Hypothyroidism. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://dynamed.ebscohost.com/about/about-us. Updated November 12, 2013. Accessed November 25, 2013.

Hypothyroidism. National Endocrine and Metabolic Diseases Information Service website. Available at: http://endocrine.niddk.nih.gov/pubs/Hypothyroidism. Updated March 13, 2013. Accessed November 25, 2013.



Last reviewed November 2013 by Michael Woods, MD

Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

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