Central Hypothyroidism: Causes, Symptoms, and How to Treat It

Central Hypothyroidism: Causes, Symptoms, and How to Treat It

Every year, millions are diagnosed with hypothyroidism, and many doctors claim that it’s usually irreversible. Usually, when people talk about hypothyroidism, they’re talking of primary hypothyroidism, which is a disorder of the thyroid gland.
Secondary hypothyroidism, or central hypothyroidism, is, however, a far rarer disorder. The term “central hypothyroidism” refers to thyroid disorders that happen due to something outside your thyroid gland.
It generally affects your pituitary, hypothalamic-pituitary portal circulation, or hypothalamus, causing reduced thyroid-stimulating hormones (TSH), thyrotropin-releasing hormone (TRH), or both.
In this article, we will talk about what central hypothyroidism is, how it’s different from the other types of thyroid diseases, and how to treat it.

What is Central Hypothyroidism?

Central hypothyroidism is a condition where the pituitary gland is underactive. The pituitary gland secretes a hormone when working correctly that stimulates your thyroid gland, but occasionally that gland doesn’t properly function.
The pituitary gland also secretes and produces hormones such as prolactin (the milk hormone), growth hormone, and thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH). It’s no surprise that TSH stimulates your thyroid to make it work properly.
In central hypothyroidism, your pituitary gland doesn’t discharge enough TSH to properly stimulate your thyroid gland to generate its hormones. This deficiency of TSH causes adverse symptoms like those of primary hypothyroidism, but the treatment for central hypothyroidism varies drastically from primary hypothyroidism.

Central Hypothyroidism Symptoms

There are many symptoms and signs of hypothyroidism. Because the end outcome is identical to primary hypothyroidism – thyroid hormone deficiency – central hypothyroidism symptoms are generally the same.

  • Cardiovascular risk
  • Depression
  • Thinning hair
  • Brittle nails
  • Joint pain
  • Muscle soreness
  • Constipation
  • Cold intolerance
  • Weight gain
  • Fatigue
  • Enlarged thyroid (Goiter)

Severe hypothyroidism can cause serious symptoms to occur, such as:

  • Myxedema coma
  • Menstrual disorders
  • Snoring, hoarseness
  • Puffy face
  • Dry, flaky skin
  • Slowed speech

Risk Factors and Causes

What causes central hypothyroidism? Dissimilar to primary hypothyroidism, which is commonly caused by the autoimmune disease Hashimoto’s disease, central hypothyroidism is most frequently caused by a pituitary tumor.
In rare cases, central hypothyroidism can happen when inflammatory cells enter the pituitary gland.
The risk factors for central hypothyroidism include:

  • Pituitary dysfunction in family or personal history
  • Chronic stress
  • Head trauma
  • Being a female
  • Being over the age of 50

Congenital central hypothyroidism can also happen to newborns. Fortunately, there are mandatory congenital hypothyroidism screenings for newborns in the United States, so it’s often caught early on.


A physical exam can typically reveal a small thyroid gland. Some vital signs can also point your doctor in the direction of central hypothyroidism, including a slow heart rate, low temperature, and low blood pressure. Additionally, a chest x-ray may show an enlarged heart.
Some laboratory tests can be done to figure out the function of your thyroid, which include:

  • Serum TSH – results are typically low in central hypothyroidism because your pituitary gland is damaged. However, normal or high values can also be seen.
  • Total T3
  • Free T4 test

All of these things can lead to your central hypothyroidism diagnosis.

How to Treat Central Hypothyroidism

Several things can be done to treat central hypothyroidism, including:

The Hypothyroidism Diet

It’s recommended that you begin the Autoimmune Paleo Diet for one to six months for most hypothyroidism cases. This encourages you only to eat the healthiest possible foods but also eliminates the possibility of inflammatory and food allergens ingredients.
Foods You Should Eat:

  • Small amounts of fruit, maple syrup, honey
  • Apple cider vinegar
  • Kombucha
  • Green tea
  • Bone broth, gelatin
  • Herb like turmeric and garlic
  • Cruciferous vegetables
  • Non-nightshade vegetables
  • High-quality protein, such as wild-caught fish and grass-fed meat

Foods You Should Avoid

  • Processed food
  • Alcohol
  • Canola and vegetable oil
  • Nightshade vegetables
  • Alternative sweeteners
  • Sugars
  • Chocolate
  • Legumes and beans
  • Seeds and nuts
  • Grains
  • Dairy

Lifestyle Changes

There are some easy lifestyle changes that you can also do that will cause noticeable improvements to your life when suffering from central hypothyroidism.
For example, stress is a trigger for thyroid disease. Alleviating your stress levels can have a huge impact on your thyroid and pituitary gland health.
Medication is also a fantastic way to alleviate stress, so it is going outside and taking in some fresh air. A great supplement to try to alleviate your stress is the NuSerenity stress supplement from Cognitune.
It’s also very important that you get enough sleep – around seven to eight hours. Here are a few tips to help you get the best possible sleep:

  • Turn off your technology about an hour before going to bed
  • Don’t exercise within two hours of going to bed
  • Take a hot Epsom salt shower or bath before bed
  • Take the NuRest supplement by CogniTune


Central hypothyroidism is a rare disorder that causes your thyroid to be underactive and not produce enough of its hormones. Unlike primary hypothyroidism, central hypothyroidism is often caused by a pituitary tumor.
There are a few risk factors that can increase your chances of being diagnosed with central hypothyroidism, including being over 50 years old, head trauma, chronic stress, and more. There are several different symptoms that you can experience if you have central hypothyroidism, including brittle nails, thinning hair, depression, cold intolerance, and more.
If you start or are experiencing any of these symptoms, you should talk to your doctor to see if you have hypothyroidism, whether it be primary or central hypothyroidism. The tests that are done to check if you have hypothyroidism aren’t invasive and easy to do.
There are a few things that you can do to treat central hypothyroidism, including lifestyle changes, such as reducing stress and getting enough sleep, and changing your diet. While these things might seem difficult to do, they will help reduce your central hypothyroidism symptoms.
You can even try some supplements to support your thyroid or to help reduce your stress levels and get more sleep at night. While they shouldn’t be the only thing you rely on to help you out, they can provide some relief.

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