A thyroid is a butterfly shaped gland in the throat that sits above the Adam’s apple, and it’s main function is to control the body’s metabolism. More than 30 million Americans have some type of thyroid disease, and more than half of them do not even know that they have one. Women are 5 times more likely to develop a thyroid condition. The two primary thyroid diseases are hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism. Hyperthyroidism is an overactive thyroid, while hypothyroidism is an underactive thyroid. There are numerous conditions that can cause these thyroid diseases, and many different symptoms that accompany them. Learn what they are in order to spot it early on, get
tested, and get your body on the right track to producing the correct amount of metabolism.
Hypothyroidism is when your thyroid gland is underactive and does not produce enough of its hormones that regulates metabolism. The conditions that can cause this are:
- Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis– is usually painless, and the most common cause of hypothyroidism. It is a hereditary disease of the immune system. Occurs at any age, buy most common in middle-aged women. The body’s immune system attacks the thyroid gland causing it to not produce a lot of its hormone.
- Thyroiditis– an inflammation of the thyroid gland.
- Postpartum Thyroiditis– occurs in women after giving birth, and is usually temporary.
- Non-functioning Thyroid– One on 4,000 babies are born with a non-functioning thyroid gland. If not corrected, it can cause mental and physical development issues.
- Iodine Deficiency– used by the thyroid to produce hormones. Can be cured by the use of iodized salt.
- Weight Gain- gaining weight and having a hard time losing weight despite exercise and calorie deficiency.
- Cold Sensitivity- feeling intolerant of the cold
- Fatigued- Despite sleeping for a long time, you constantly feel exhausted. Take long naps.
- Depression- feeling depressed more often
- Forgetfulness and memory loss
- Hair is dry and breaks easily. Loss of hair.
- Dry skin
- Brittle, thin nails
- Hoarse Voice
- Severe constipation
- Heavier periods, painful menstruation, and less time in between menstrual periods.
Hyperthyroidism is the opposite of hypothyroidism. This is when your thyroid gland is overactive and produces too much of its hormone that regulates metabolism. The conditions that can cause this is:
- Grave’s Disease– the most common cause of hyperthyroidism affecting 1 in 200 people in the US. The body’s immune system attacks the thyroid gland causing it to overproduce hormones.
- Thyroid Nodules– A nodule is a growth that forms on or in the thyroid gland. The causes are unknown. The nodules can be solid or fluid-filled, and most are benign. It is more common in women. There are no symptoms but if they get large enough, it can cause swelling and difficulty breathing.
- Thyroiditis– Occurs mostly in women after childbirth. Can be painful or painless, and can last a couple of weeks or months.
- Too Much Iodine– Certain drugs contain a lot of iodine, which in turn causes the thyroid to produce too much of its hormone.
- Weight Loss- losing weight despite eating normal, or losing weight despite increased caloric intake.
- Heat Sensitivity- Feel hot despite normal room temperature.
- Can’t Sleep- having a hard time falling asleep and staying asleep. Racing heart at bedtime.
- Anxious- feeling anxious, or having panic attacks and panic disorder.
- Severe Hair Loss
- Skin Rashes
- Blurry vision or any change in your vision
- Diarrhea or Irritable Bowel Syndrome
- Shorter periods, lighter flow, or if your period stops all together.
- Muscle Weakness
You can not prevent hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism in most cases, especially when caused by Grave’s disease or Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. If not taken care of, a thyroid condition can lead to complications. Complications include pregnancy complication, neuropathy, osteoporosis, atrial fibrillation, and even a coma (which is rare). A doctor can prescribe thyroid hormone medication to help regulate your thyroid gland function. In order to prevent any complications from occurring, or the condition getting worse, go to the doctor if you experience any symptoms or suspect a thyroid problem. Your doctor will do a physical exam, and a blood test to check your levels. Thyroid conditions can be treated effectively as long as you know the signs and get checked.