Asked by Kristin, Wisconsin
Is hypothyroidism common in a person's early 20s? How long does it take to find the correct dose of medication to regulate it?
Dr. Otis Brawley
Chief Medical Officer,
American Cancer Society
The thyroid is an organ in the neck. It secretes a hormone that regulates metabolism. Someone whose thyroid is overactive will have a fast heartbeat, sweating and weight loss. A hypoactive thyroid that secretes too little thyroid hormone leads to drowsiness, weight gain and even a change in voice.
In poor countries, iodine deficiency in the diet can lead to thyroid deficiency. In the Western world, the most common cause of hypothyroidism is failure of the thyroid usually due to an immune reaction against the organ. Patients with hypothyroidism need oral replacement, which can usually be done with a pill taken once a day. Getting to the right dose can be difficult and can take several months of working with a physician.
Hypothyroidism is not common in the 20s, but it does happen. It is also more common in women than in men.
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