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Signs may include delayed relaxation of the ankle reflex and a slow heart beat.
Hypothyroidism is caused by inadequate function of the gland itself (primary hypothyroidism), inadequate stimulation by thyroid-stimulating hormone from the pituitary gland (secondary hypothyroidism), or inadequate release of thyrotropin-releasing hormone from the brain's hypothalamus (tertiary hypothyroidism). It is characterized by infiltration of the thyroid gland with T lymphocytes and autoantibodies against specific thyroid antigens such as thyroid peroxidase, thyroglobulin and the TSH receptor.
The hypothalamus secretes TRH (green), which stimulates the production of TSH (red) by the pituitary gland.
This, in turn, stimulates the production of thyroxine by the thyroid (blue).
A diagnosis of hypothyroidism without any lumps or masses felt within the thyroid gland does not require thyroid imaging; however, if the thyroid feels abnormal, diagnostic imaging is then recommended.