Monday, February 27, 2012

Causes Of Myxedema

Myxedema (Adult hypothyroidism) is caused by an accumulation of tissue products, such as glycosaminoglycans, in the skin. Myxedema is almost always a result of hypothyroidism. Specific causes of hypothyroidism that can lead to myxedema include Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, thyroidectomy (surgical removal of the thyroid), and Graves’ disease.

The most common cause of hypothyroidism is inflammation of the thyroid gland, which damages the gland's cells. Autoimmune or Hashimoto's thyroiditis, in which the immune system attacks the thyroid gland, is the most common example of this. Some women develop hypothyroidism after pregnancy (often referred to as "postpartum thyroiditis").

Other common causes of hypothyroidism include:
  • Congenital (birth) defects
  • Radiation treatments to the neck to treat different cancers, which may also damage the thyroid gland
  • Radioactive iodine used to treat an overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism)
  • Surgical removal of part or all of the thyroid gland, done to treat other thyroid problems
  • Viral thyroiditis, which may cause hyperthyroidism and is often followed by temporary or permanent hypothyroidism
Certain drugs can cause hypothyroidism, including:
  • Amiodarone
  • Drugs used for hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid), such as propylthiouracil (PTU) and methimazole
  • Lithium
  • Radiation to the brain
  • Sheehan syndrome, a condition that may occur in a woman who bleeds severely during pregnancy or childbirth and causes destruction of the pituitary gland.
A number of factors increase the risk of developing myxedema. Not all people with risk factors will get myxedema.

Risk factors for myxedema include:
  • Age over 50 years
  • Autoimmune disorders (diseases in which the immune system attacks the body’s own tissues as foreign substances)
  • Current or previous hypothyroidism
  • Female gender

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