When To Contact Your Doctor
If youve checked off signs and are not feeling yourself, discuss this with your primary care doctor. These signs dont necessarily mean that you have thyroid disease. By asking you about your symptoms, your doctor can decide whether you need a blood test to check for thyroid disease.
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ImagesImage 1: Getty ImagesImages 2, 3, 4: Used with permission of the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology: J Am Acad Dermatol. 2003 Jun;48:970-2.
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What Is Hyperthyroidism
Hyperthyroidism, or overactive thyroid, happens when your thyroid gland makes more thyroid hormones than your body needs.
Your thyroid is a small, butterfly-shaped gland in the front of your neck. It makes hormones that control the way the body uses energy. These hormones affect nearly every organ in your body and control many of your body’s most important functions. For example, they affect your breathing, heart rate, weight, digestion, and moods. If not treated, hyperthyroidism can cause serious problems with your heart, bones, muscles, menstrual cycle, and fertility. But there are treatments that can help.
Who Should Be Tested
If you think you have symptoms of a thyroid problem, ask your doctor if you should be tested. People with symptoms or risk factors may need tests more often. Hypothyroidism more frequently affects women over age 60. Hyperthyroidism is also more common in women. A family history raises your risk of either disorder.
Read Also: How Do You Know If You Have Thyroid
What Are The Most Common Thyroid Problems
Thyroid disorders and thyroid disease can have a negative impact on just about every area of your life. From weight issues to depression and/or anxiety, the thyroid gland is vital to keeping your physical, mental and emotional life in balance.
While there are other thyroid issues as well, the majority of cases fall into one of these two categories. Hypothyroidism is by far the more common type of thyroid problem. Most people with hypothyroidism are women, especially those who are of reproductive age or middle-aged.
To give you an understanding of how these problems develop, heres a helpful overview of the primary way in which the thyroid gland works.
The thyroid gland controls many aspects of metabolism, including regulating the production of various hormones that enable the body to carry out vital functions such as;digestion and reproduction, for example. Sometimes the thyroid gland winds up pumping out either too much or too little of certain hormones. Either scenario is problematic for things like body weight regulation and mood stabilization, although the symptoms caused by these two types of hormonal imbalances affect people differently.
Who Should Get Tested
If you have symptoms of hyperthyroidism, especially if they come and go, you may benefit from requesting another test for TSH, T4, and T3 hormone levels.
Our standard thyroid panel results came back normal, but you have the following hypothyroidism symptoms and you should consider more extensive testing for other thyroid issues:
- Sudden or unexplained weight gain
- Puffy face
- Painful, stiff, or swollen joints
- Heavy, disrupted, or irregular menses
- Thinning hair
- History of autoimmune disease
- Macrocytic anemia
Chances are if you went to your doctor to discuss thyroid problems, he or she ordered a thyroid-stimulating hormone test. He or she may have also ordered a thyroxine test. However, these tests do not necessarily rule out uncommon thyroid disorders. You may have fallen into the thyroid testing gap.
Also Check: What Can A Underactive Thyroid Cause
Symptoms Of Thyroid Disease In Children
While thyroid disease most often develops during adulthood, it can occur in infants, children, and teenagers as well. The symptoms of thyroid disease in children may be hard to recognize because manychanges in appetite, sleep patterns, emotions, and energy levelsare all also experienced as part of normal development during these years.
What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of Hypothyroidism
Symptoms of hypothyroidism develop slowly, often over several years. At first, you may feel tired and sluggish. Later, you may develop other signs and symptoms of a slowed-down metabolism, including:
- Feeling cold when other people do not
- A hoarse voice
- More than usual menstrual bleeding
You also may have high LDL or “bad” cholesterol, which can raise your risk for .
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How Is Thyroid Disease Diagnosed And Evaluated
Symptoms often prompt patients to visit the doctor, including fatigue, the inability to get pregnant, changes in the skin or hair, a lump in the neck, hoarseness or pain in the thyroid area. Based on these symptoms, a doctor will likely perform a physical exam to determine whether the thyroid is enlarged and order blood tests to measure thyroid hormone levels. If blood tests reveal signs of abnormal thyroid activity or thyroid cancer, further testing will be required, such as:
Do You Have Thyroid Symptoms With Normal Lab Results
According to the American Thyroid Association, 12+ percent of the U.S. population will develop a thyroid condition. An estimated 20 million Americans have a thyroid disorder or disease. As many as 60 percent of those affected are unaware of their condition. Women are affected by thyroid disorders more often than men.
If you tell your doctor you are concerned about thyroid problems, he or she will probably order a lab test. But what if the test comes back negative, yet your symptoms persist? Lets say you cant lose weight, always feel tired, and just feel terrible in general. You and your doctor are probably baffled by your normal thyroid blood test results.
Some thyroid problems cause symptoms without showing up on the standard thyroid panel. For example, you may be symptomatic but cant detect the issue because your thyroid labs are in the normal range? If so, you may suffer from a less common thyroid disorder or thyroid-related dysfunction.
Also Check: Is Thyroid Disease An Autoimmune Disease
Whos At Risk For Hyperthyroidism
According to the National Institute of Health , hyperthyroidism affects approximately 1.2% of the population in the US. Although it occurs in both men and women, its up to 10 times more likely in females.
Youre at higher risk for hyperthyroidism if you:
- Have a family history of thyroid disease
- Have pernicious anemia
- Have primary adrenal insufficiency, also known as Addisons disease
- Consume an iodine-rich diet or medications containing iodine
- Are over the age of 60
- Were pregnant within the past 6 months
- Had thyroid surgery or a thyroid problem such as a goiter;also known as a swollen thyroid gland;
Though an overactive thyroid brings on a constellation of high thyroid symptoms , some of them dont seem obviously linked to the condition . Heres what to look for.
Changes In Menstrual Cycle Or Sexual Performance
Hormonal changes are closely linked to sexual function. If you find that your period is becoming irregular, heavier, or more painful than before, or if you are experiencing stronger emotional symptoms tied to PMS, your thyroid might be the cause.
You might also experience difficulty with sexual performance or enjoyment. If you are having difficulty with libido or achieving orgasm or if you cannot maintain an erection, you could also be struggling with a thyroid-related symptom.
While these are uncomfortable issues to talk about, they should absolutely be addressed with us to rule out not only thyroid trouble but also anything else that might quietly be causing these issues.
Read Also: What Is The Normal Size Of A Thyroid
Subtle Signs Of A Thyroid Problem Hiding In Plain Sight
Be careful not to miss these subtle but serious symptoms of a potential thyroid issue.
Your thyroid might be small, but it’s also quite mighty when it comes to your overall health. The butterfly-shaped gland, located at the base of the neck, produces hormones that regulate almost all of your bodily functions. So when your thyroid isn’t functioning properly, things tend to go haywire. Whether your body is producing too much thyroid hormone or too little , both scenarios can cause problems, impacting everything from your sleep schedule to your skin. But these subtle signs of a thyroid problem can easily go unnoticed.
Though thyroid disease is hardly uncommonan estimated 20 million Americans have some form of thyroid disease, according to the American Thyroid Associationup to 60 percent are unaware of their condition. Keep reading to learn all about the subtle signs of a thyroid problem and be sure to see an endocrinologist if you think your thyroid might be out of whack.
Hair Loss And Skin Problems
When an individual develops a thyroid problem, visible changes in hair and skin quality are likely to occur. Hair tends to thin and this loss may affect the hair all over the body, such as the armpits and eyebrows, as well as the head. Skin tends to get either uncharacteristically dry and patchy or more oily and acne-prone. Few people experience no skin-related symptoms.
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Tried But Unable To Sleep At Night
If you spend your day tired but when bed time rolls around you feel wired, this can also be a sign your thyroid needs help.
The sleep hormones mingle with thyroid hormones, which can make regulation off sleep difficult.
While some of these symptoms can and do indicate other issues with the body, they really are signs you have thyroid problems.
Other Causes Of Hyperthyroidism
Hyperthyroidism can also result from thyroid nodules. These are lumps that develop inside the thyroid and sometimes begin producing thyroid hormones. Large lumps may create a noticeable goiter. Smaller lumps can be detected with ultrasound. A thyroid uptake and scan can tell if the lump is producing too much thyroid hormone.
Read Also: What Is Included In A Complete Thyroid Panel
Weakness And Aches In Muscles And Joints
Low thyroid hormone flips the metabolic switch toward catabolism, which is when the body breaks down body tissues like muscle for energy .
During catabolism, muscle strength decreases, potentially leading to feelings of weakness. The process of breaking down muscle tissue can also lead to aching .
Everyone feels weak once in a while. However, people with hypothyroidism are twice as likely to feel more weak than usual, compared to healthy people (
One study in 35 individuals with hypothyroidism showed that replacing low levels of thyroid hormone with a synthetic thyroid hormone called levothyroxine improved muscle strength and decreased aches and pains, compared to no treatment .
Another study showed a 25% improvement in the sense of physical well-being among patients receiving thyroid replacement .
Weakness and aches are normal following strenuous activity. However, new, and especially increasing, weakness or aching is a good reason to make an appointment with your physician.
Summary: Low levels of thyroid hormone slow down your metabolism and can cause painful muscle breakdown.
Thyroid Nodule Symptom # : A Lump In The Neck That You Can See Or Other People Can See
- What to do about it?
Thyroid nodules that the patient can see, or somebody else can see should almost always be examined by an ultrasound test. Depending on the characteristics of the nodule , the nodule may need a needle biopsy. Almost all thyroid nodules that can be seen should have a FNA thyroid needle biopsy.
Also Check: What Causes Thyroid Levels To Be High
How Is Thyroid Disease Treated
Your healthcare providers goal is to return your thyroid hormone levels to normal. This can be done in a variety of ways and each specific treatment will depend on the cause of your thyroid condition.
If you have high levels of thyroid hormones , treatment options can include:
- Anti-thyroid drugs : These are medications that stop your thyroid from making hormones.
- Radioactive iodine: This treatment damages the cells of your thyroid, preventing it from making high levels of thyroid hormones.
- Beta blockers: These medications dont change the amount of hormones in your body, but they help control your symptoms.
- Surgery: A more permanent form of treatment, your healthcare provider may surgically remove your thyroid . This will stop it from creating hormones. However, you will need to take thyroid replacement hormones for the rest of your life.
If you have low levels of thyroid hormones , the main treatment option is:
- Thyroid replacement medication: This drug is a synthetic way to add thyroid hormones back into your body. One drug thats commonly used is called levothyroxine. By using a medication, you can control thyroid disease and live a normal life.
Hyperthyroidism Diagnosis And Treatment
A blood test measures levels of thyroid hormone and thyroid-stimulating hormone in your blood. The pituitary gland releases TSH to stimulate the thyroid to produce its hormones. High thyroxine and low TSH levels indicate that your thyroid gland is overactive.
Your doctor might also give you radioactive iodine by mouth or as an injection, and then measure how much of it your thyroid gland takes up. Your thyroid takes in iodine to produce its hormones. Taking in a lot of radioactive iodine is a sign that your thyroid is overactive. The low level of radioactivity resolves quickly and isnt dangerous for most people.
Treatments for hyperthyroidism destroy the thyroid gland or block it from producing its hormones.
- Antithyroid drugs such as methimazole prevent the thyroid from producing its hormones.
- A large dose of radioactive iodine damages the thyroid gland. You take it as a pill by mouth. As your thyroid gland takes in iodine, it also pulls in the radioactive iodine, which damages the gland.
- Surgery can be performed to remove your thyroid gland.
If you have radioactive iodine treatment or surgery that destroys your thyroid gland, you will develop hypothyroidism and need to take thyroid hormone daily.
Recommended Reading: Is Overactive Thyroid An Autoimmune Disease
Can Thyroid Disease Cause Problems Getting Pregnant
Both hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism can make it harder for you to get . This is because problems with the thyroid hormone can upset the balance of the hormones that cause ovulation. Hypothyroidism can also cause your body to make more prolactin, the hormone that tells your body to make breastmilk. Too much prolactin can prevent .
Thyroid problems can also affect the . Your periods may be heavier or irregular, or you may not have any periods at all for several months or longer .
Thyroid Disease In Children
Thyroid disease during infancy, which is usually identified through newborn screening tests, is not common. Congenital hypothyroidism is the most common thyroid problem identified at birth.
After infancy, your child might not have thyroid tests unless you mention symptoms of thyroid disease to his or her pediatrician, or if your child has a risk of thyroid disease due to a family history.
In kids, hypothyroidism, which occurs when the thyroid gland is underproducing thyroid hormone, is more common than hyperthyroidism, a condition in which the thyroid gland produces too much thyroid hormone. Both can produce consequences that affect your child’s growth, health, mood, and ability to concentrate and learn.
Hashimoto’s thyroiditis , which typically causes hypothyroidism, is the most common type of thyroid disease in children.
Read Also: What Is Tsh In Thyroid Test
Q Should You Get Treated For Thyroid During Pregnancy
Trouble Regulating Body Temperature
Are you often cold when nobody else is? This was something I struggled with for a long time, I thought it was just me. When I finally found a doctor that would take my thyroid problem seriously, on the list of questions he asked me were if I was cold often. He said this is a common indicator of thyroid issues.
Read Also: Where Do You Get Your Thyroid Checked
Trouble Concentrating Or Remembering
Many patients with hypothyroidism complain of mental fogginess and trouble concentrating. The way this mental fogginess presents itself varies by person.
In one study, 22% of low-thyroid individuals described increased difficulty doing everyday math, 36% described thinking more slowly than usual and 39% reported having a poorer memory .
In another study of 14 men and women with untreated hypothyroidism, the participants showed difficulty remembering verbal cues .
The causes for this are not yet fully understood, but difficulties in memory improve with treatment of low thyroid hormone .
Difficulties in memory or concentration can happen to everyone, but if they are sudden or severe, they could be a signal of hypothyroidism.
Summary: Hypothyroidism can cause mental fogginess and difficulty concentrating. It may also impair certain kinds of memory.