Doctors have raised concerns over inappropriate diagnosis and treatment of thyroid problems.
While writing in British Medical Journal, the doctors at the British Thyroid Association revealed that increasing numbers of patients with and without confirmed thyroid disease have been diagnosed and treated inappropriately with thyroid hormones.
"This is potentially an enormous problem, given that in any one year one in four people in the United Kingdom have their thyroid function checked," they said.
Hypothyroidism is caused by insufficient production of thyroid hormone by the thyroid gland.
The doctors said it is common and is becoming more prevalent because of increased life expectancy and an ageing population.
Thyroid hormones also affect most organs, so hypothyroidism presents with symptoms that can mimic other conditions.
This can lead to an incorrect diagnosis, which could expose some patients to the harmful effects of excess thyroid hormones, while other serious conditions may go undiagnosed.
Moreover, inadequate information on the Internet and media interest in alternative modes of diagnosis and treatment of hypothyroidism, have also caused an increase in requests for inappropriate investigations and non-standard treatments, as well as referrals to non-accredited practitioners.
This has led to a rise in awareness and confusion about hypothyroidism, and they have increased the workload in primary care.