Is Thyroid Disease Hereditary?

The thyroid gland is located at the base of your neck and resembles the shape of a small butterfly. According to Healthline, the thyroid gland is located underneath the center of the throat and plays a big role in how the human body functions. The thyroid gland contributes to the body's growth and overall development by producing hormones to regulate metabolism. These hormones then contribute to the body's heart rate, brain, and much more.

However, the thyroid is capable of overproducing or underproducing these hormones, which can lead to the development of thyroid diseases when it is no longer working properly, the Mayo Clinic reports. Not everyone will experience issues with their thyroid gland, but there are diseases that can arise from problems with a thyroid. Hypothyroidism (an underactive thyroid), hyperthyroidism (an overactive thyroid), thyroid cancer, and thyroiditis are just some of the health issues that can occur.

Symptoms of thyroid diseases will vary by person and the specific health issue, but it's not uncommon to feel fatigue, irritability, depression, or experience gain weight (via the Mayo Clinic). When left untreated, some thyroid diseases will do more than make you feel tired. In fact, when hypothyroidism is left untreated, it can increase a person's chance of preeclampsia or high blood pressure in pregnancy, miscarriage, or premature delivery.

Causes of thyroid diseases

The exact cause of one's thyroid disease depends on the person, but for some diseases, like hyperthyroidism, the cause is an overproduction of hormones. According to Verywell Health, other causes of thyroid disease include pregnancy, radiation treatment, removal of the thyroid gland, and even genetics. Thyroid disease is hereditary, but it also depends on which thyroid disease. For example, Graves' disease and Hashimoto's disease are both autoimmune disorders that are hereditary and affect the thyroid.

The more people in your family with thyroid disease increases your risk of developing the same health issue as well, endocrinologist Dr. Christian Nasr tells the Cleveland Clinic. This doesn't necessarily mean you will experience problems with your thyroid, but the likelihood is much greater if it's in your family history. Dr. Nasr says at least 75% of his own patients have reported thyroid disease on at least 1 side of their family. If you think you're having an issue with your thyroid, contact your doctor for further guidance.