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Episodes Overtreating an underactive thyroid

closeup of young white or perhaps Asian woman touching her neck near her throat, maybe a goiter, thyroid disease

Overtreating an underactive thyroid
Aug. 6, 2021

The thyroid gland creates and produces hormones that play a role in many systems throughout the body. When your thyroid makes too much or too little of these important hormones, it’s called a thyroid disease.

And thyroid disease is common.

"We know that about 10% of people have some degree of thyroid dysfunction," says Dr. Juan Brito Campana, a Mayo Clinic endocrinologist. 

There are several different types of thyroid disease, including hyperthyroidism, or overactive thyroid; hypothyroidism or under active thyroid; and Hashimoto’s disease, where the immune system attacks the thyroid gland. Hypothyroidism is the most common thyroid disease. Treatment for hypothyroidism involves daily use of levothyroxine, a synthetic thyroid hormone that restores adequate hormone levels.

Levothyroxine is one of the most common prescription drugs in the U.S., but a new study by Mayo Clinic researchers suggests it is significantly overused in people with mild hypothyroidism or no apparent thyroid dysfunction. These results were published in JAMA Internal Medicine.

On the Mayo Clinic Q&A podcast, Dr. Brito Campana discusses diagnosis and treatment for thyroid disease, and what the research on the overuse of levothyroxine means for patients.