Is hypothyroidism hereditary? That’s a question a lot of people ask mainly because hypothyroidism tends to run in families. If your mom and your aunts have hypothyroidism, there’s a big possibility that you and your offspring could also have hypothyroidism.
Hypothyroidism in itself isn’t hereditary. The diseases that cause hypothyroidism are hereditary. This is the reason why hypothyroidism seems to pass on from generation to generation.
Take Hashimoto’s thyroiditis for example. Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is the most common cause of hypothyroidism in the United States. It affects as many as 10 million people in the United States. It’s estimated that 10% of women over 30 have some form of Hashimoto’s thyroiditis.
Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is an autoimmune disorder. An autoimmune disorder is a disease where the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks healthy cells or organs instead of foreign bodies or pathogens. In the case of this disease, the body’s own immune system attacks the thyroid gland and slowly destroys it. This interferes with thyroid gland function and eventually results in hypothyroidism.
Thyroid cancer is hereditary and also another cause of hypothyroidism. One of the causes of medullary thyroid cancer is an alteration of the RET gene. This gene can be directly passed on from parent to child and nearly everyone with this type of gene eventually develops medullary thyroid cancer. People who have a family history of goiter and precancerous colon polyps are more likely to develop papillary thyroid cancer.
Sarcoidosis is another autoimmune disease that can cause hypothyroidism. Sarcoidosis is a disease where inflamed, abnormal tissue grows inside a healthy organ. This abnormal tissue can eventually overwhelm and destroy the healthy organ or tissue. When sarcoidosis attacks the thyroid, the inflamed tissue could eventually replace healthy thyroid tissue and cause hypothyroidism.
There are certain drugs that can also cause hypothyroidism. Some of these drugs are used to treat hereditary diseases, such as interferon-alpha and interleukin-2. Anti-thyroid medication used to treat hyperthyroidism can cause hypothyroidism when taken in excess. Depression and bipolar disorder has a genetic component. People taking lithium for these disorders were observed to be more prone to developing hypothyroidism than those taking other medication.
The risk factors of hypothyroidism also have a genetic or hereditary component. People with these risk factors are more likely to develop hypothyroidism than the rest of the population. People with inherited autoimmune disorders like Addison’s disease, type 1 diabetes, and rheumatoid arthritis are more likely to develop hypothyroidism than the rest of the population.
Is hypothyroidism hereditary? Yes, it is. But it doesn’t mean that if you have hypothyroidism in your genes that you will eventually have hypothyroidism. You can prevent hypothyroidism through a healthy lifestyle which includes a proper diet, exercise, and stress management. Hypothyroidism can be managed with proper treatment and regular monitoring.
Having a healthy and fruitful life is possible despite having hypothyroidism. If you have the causes or risk factors of hypothyroidism, make sure to consult your doctor in order to take the necessary preventive measures. Hypothyroidism may be hereditary but it is not absolute. You can control what happens to your body by taking charge of your health.
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