Risk Factors of Hypothyroidism

What puts you at high risk?

If you're concerned about your risk of developing hypothyroidism, there are two main factors to consider—age and sex. Your chances of being hypothyroid increase with age, and they are greater if you're a woman. Hypothyroidism occurs primarily in women older than 50.

Besides age and sex, your risk for hypothyroidism is increased if:

  • You have a family history of thyroid disease or any autoimmune disease
  • You have type 1 diabetes or rheumatoid arthritis, or other autoimmune disorders
  • You have taken anti-thyroid medications (a treatment for hyperthyroidism) or have been treated with radioactive iodine (a treatment for thyroid cancer)
  • You have had thyroid surgery (you had your thyroid removed to treat thyroid cancer or to treat a symptomatic goiter)
  • You have been exposed to radiation to your neck or upper chest area

Understanding your risk factors is important because it will help your doctor determine your need to be screened for hypothyroidism. Regular screenings are your best ally in diagnosing hypothyroidism early on. But even if you have multiple risk factors, it does not guarantee that you will develop hypothyroidism. Conversely, not having any risk factors won't protect you from the disorder.