Symptoms Of An Underactive Thyroid
Many symptoms of an underactive thyroid are the same as those of other conditions, so it can easily be confused for something else.
Symptoms;usually develop slowly and you may not realise you have a medical problem for several years.
Common symptoms include:
- pain, numbness and a tingling sensation in the hand and fingers
- irregular periods;or heavy periods
Elderly people with an underactive thyroid may develop memory problems and depression. Children may experience slower growth and development. Teenagers may start;puberty earlier than normal.
If you have any of these symptoms, see your GP and ask to be tested for an underactive thyroid.
Read more about getting tested for an underactive thyroid
Diagnosis Of Overactive Thyroid
Your GP will ask about your symptoms and examine you. They may ask you about your medical history and if anyone in your family has an overactive thyroid gland.
If your GP thinks you may have an overactive thyroid, theyll ask you to have one or more blood tests. This is to check the level of thyroid hormones in your body. The main hormones measured in blood tests are:
- TSH , which is made by your pituitary gland to control your thyroid gland
- FT4 free T4
- FT3 free T3
You may hear these blood tests referred to as thyroid function tests. If you have an overactive thyroid, youll have a low TSH level with a high FT4 level and a high FT3 level.
If the results of the blood tests show you have an overactive thyroid, your GP will refer you to see a specialist. This will be an endocrinologist, a doctor who specialises in treating hormone problems such as thyroid conditions.
What Are Thyroid Nodules
A thyroid is a swelling in one section of the thyroid gland. The nodule may be solid or filled with fluid or blood. You may have just one thyroid nodule or many.
Thyroid nodules are common and affect four times as many women as men. Researchers do not know why nodules form in otherwise normal thyroids.
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Radioactive Iodine For Hyperthyroidism
Radioiodine, or RAI, is given as a pill, to treat hyperthyroidism by gradually shrinking your thyroidultimately destroying the gland. Yes, RAI is the same as radioactive iodine threapy, which was the formal medical term. It has been changed to lessen the scariness of sound of this therapy.
This thyroid treatment is much safer than it sounds; in fact, it is the most commonly used hyperthyroid treatment in the US. Unlike antithyroid medications, radioactive iodine is a permanent and more reliable cure for hyperthyroidism.
Radioiodine Ablation Radioactive iodine therapy can destroy all or part of the thyroid gland, depending on need. While there may be instances when you won’t need to have the entire thyroid gland rendered nonfunctional to alleviate your hyperthyroid symptoms, total destruction of the thyroid is most often necessary.
Your doctor may refer to it as radioactive iodine ablation .; This article will focus on what you might expect when you are faced with the total elimination of your thyroid gland and its key functions.
Graves disease, the most common form of hyperthyroidism, occurs most often in women, is treated with radioactive iodine, given as a pill. Photo: 123rf
In determining the best dose, the size of the thyroid gland and results of the uptake test are the two most important factors. The larger the gland, the larger the radioactive iodine dose. The higher the iodine uptake, the smaller the dose.
Is Hyperthyroidism During Pregnancy A Problem
Thyroid hormone levels that are just a little high are usually not a problem in pregnancy. However, more severe hyperthyroidism that isnt treated can affect both the mother and the baby. If you have hyperthyroidism, be sure your disease is under control before becoming pregnant. Learn more about causes, diagnosis, and treatment of hyperthyroidism during pregnancy.
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Emotional And Mental Problems
With hyperthyroidism, the nervous system always operates with heightened alertness. People with overactive thyroid often have a sense of being in mental overdrive. This leads to nervousness, irritability, tremors and anxiety. It also contributes to sleep problems and inability to relax and wind down. These mental and emotional symptoms can mimic forms of mental illness. Effective thyroid treatment can calm your overworked brain and help you think clearly again.
How Is Hyperthyroidism Diagnosed
Contact your doctor if you have symptoms of an overactive thyroid. He or she will check for an enlarged thyroid gland, rapid pulse, moist skin, eye changes, and a slight tremor in your fingers or hand. Your doctor also will do a blood test to measure the amount of thyroid hormone in your blood. This confirms the diagnosis.
Your doctor may do a thyroid scan to find the cause. If your entire thyroid is affected, you have Graves disease. Or the doctor will look for thyroid nodules or an inflammation.
Your doctor also may do a radioactive iodine uptake test. This test measures your thyroids ability to take up iodine. A high uptake of iodine means your thyroid gland may be producing too much hormone. This indicates Graves disease or a hyperfunctioning thyroid nodule. A low uptake of iodine indicates thyroiditis as the cause.
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How Tsh Levels Change
TSH levels are not very intuitive. Why does a high TSH mean you have an underactive thyroid gland? Why do low levels means the gland is overactive?
Understanding exactly how the thyroid gland works can help.
Your thyroid gland produces thyroid hormone. When it functions properly, your thyroid is part of a feedback loop with your pituitary gland that involves several actions:
First, your pituitary gland senses the level of thyroid hormone that is;released into the bloodstream.
Your pituitary;then releases the special messenger hormone TSH, which makes the thyroid release more thyroid hormone. From there:
- If your thyroid doesn’t produce enough thyroid hormone, your pituitary triggers your thyroid to make more.
- If your thyroid is overactive and producing too much thyroid hormone, your pituitary senses that and slows or shuts down TSH production.;
It’s Difficult To Remember To Take Your Dose
There are a number of strategies you can use to;remember to take your thyroid medication. Your phone, computer, or another alarm can be programmed to give you a daily reminder. You can keep your medicine in an obvious place in your bedroom, bathroom, or kitchen, or you can use a pill organizer to keep you on track.
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Causes And Risk Factors Of Hyperthyroidism
The following are the most common causes of hyperthyroidism.
Graves diseaseThyroiditisThyroid nodules
A high-iodine diet;Theres no shortage of iodine in the American diet. While this mineral is necessary in small amounts, excess iodine may lead to hyperthyroidism. This cause of hyperthyroidism is rare.
Effects Of Skipping Antithyroid Medication
If you have Graves’ disease, toxic nodules, thyroiditis, or another cause of hyperthyroidism, you may need to take antithyroid medication such as methimazole or propylthiouracil/PTU. If you skip or completely discontinue your medicine, you can experience a number of short-term and long-term consequences, including:
- Debilitating weight loss
- Dramatically increased appetite and thirst
- Nervousness, anxiety, panic attacks
- Rapid pulse, heart palpitations, or high blood pressure
- Hair loss
- Protruding eyes
Untreated hyperthyroidism can increase your risk of stroke or heart attack. It can also increase the risk of developing a dangerous condition known as;thyroid storm, which has a high fatality rate.
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What Causes An Overactive Thyroid Gland
The thyroid gland is found in the neck. It produces hormones that are released into the bloodstream to control the body’s growth and metabolism. These hormones are called thyroxine and triiodothyronine.
They affect processes such as heart rate and body temperature, and help convert food into energy to keep the body going.
In hyperthyroidism, the thyroid gland produces too much thyroxine or triiodothyronine, which speeds up the body’s metabolism.
There are several possible underlying causes, the most common being Graves’ disease, in which the body’s immune system targets the thyroid gland and causes it to produce too much of the thyroid hormones.
What Does My Thyroid Do
Located at the front of your neck, the thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland. Glands are organs that can be found all over your body. They create and release hormones substances that help your body function and grow. The thyroid gland plays a big part in many of your bodys main functions. Your thyroid gland regulates your body temperature and controls your heart rate and metabolism.
When your thyroid gland is working correctly, your body is in balance and all of your systems function properly. If your thyroid stops working in the way its meant to creating too much or too little of thyroid hormones it can impact your entire body.
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How Is Thyroid Cancer Treated
The main treatment for thyroid cancer is surgery to take out the whole thyroid gland or as much of it as can be safely removed. Surgery alone can cure thyroid cancer if the cancer is small and has not yet spread to lymph nodes.
Your doctor may also use radioiodine therapy after surgery. Radioiodine therapy destroys any thyroid cancer cells that were not removed during surgery or that have spread to other parts of the body.
Your doctor may also talk with you about other treatments for thyroid cancer. Learn more about thyroid cancer treatments at the National Cancer Institute.
Favorite Clinical Trial Outreach
Are you looking for a way to participate in clinical research groups for your condition? With your endocrinologists consent, you may be able to participate in selected studies in your area while gaining potential treatment. Bookmark the above link from the Endocrine Web to stay updated on all active clinical trials pertaining to hyperthyroidism.
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How Are Thyroid Nodules Treated
Treatment depends on the type of nodule or nodules that you have. Treatments include:
- Watchful waiting. If your nodule is not cancerous, your doctor may decide to just watch your condition. You will get regular physical exams, blood tests, and perhaps thyroid ultrasound tests. If your nodule does not change, you may not need further treatment.
- Surgery. Surgery may be necessary to take out nodules that may be cancerous or large nodules that cause problems breathing or swallowing.
- Radioiodine. This type of treatment is helpful if you have nodules that make too much thyroid hormone. Radioiodine causes nodules to shrink and make smaller amounts of thyroid hormone.
How Does Thyroid Disease Affect Pregnancy
Pregnancy-related hormones raise the level of thyroid hormones in the blood. Thyroid hormones are necessary for the baby’s brain development while in the womb.
It can be harder to diagnose thyroid problems during pregnancy because of the change in hormone levels that normally happen during pregnancy. But it is especially important to check for problems before getting pregnant and during pregnancy. Uncontrolled hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism can cause problems for both mother and baby.
Hyperthyroidism that is not treated with medicine during pregnancy can cause:
- Premature birth
- a serious condition starting after 20 weeks of pregnancy. Preeclampsia causes high blood pressure and problems with the kidneys and other organs. The only cure for preeclampsia is childbirth.
- Thyroid storm
- Fast heart rate in the newborn, which can lead to heart failure, poor weight gain, or an enlarged thyroid that can make it hard to breathe
- Low birth weight
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How Do You Calm Down An Overactive Thyroid
How Is Hypothyroidism Treated
Hypothyroidism is treated with medicine that gives your body the thyroid hormone it needs to work normally. The most common medicines are man-made forms of the hormone that your thyroid makes. You will likely need to take thyroid hormone pills for the rest of your life. When you take the pills as your doctor tells you to, the pills are very safe.
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When Tsh Alone Is Not Enough
During diagnosis, most doctors use the TSH test to evaluate thyroid function and determine the optimal course of treatment. There are times, however, when knowing one’s TSH may be insufficient.
For instance, free T4 in addition to TSH is usually tested if a doctor suspects thyroid dysfunction due to disease of the pituitary gland or hypothalamus.
Likewise,;if the TSH is normal, but a person still has symptoms of being hyperthyroid or hypothyroid, free T4 may be checked.
TSH is also not necessarily sufficient to monitor hypothyroidism during pregnancy; T4 and free T4 are often recommended.
What Is Thyroid Cancer
Thyroid cancer happens when cancer cells form from the tissues of the thyroid gland.
Most people with thyroid cancer have a thyroid nodule that does not cause any symptoms. If you do have symptoms, you may have swelling or a lump in your neck. The lump may cause problems swallowing. Some people get a hoarse voice.
To tell if the lump or nodule is cancerous, your doctor will order . Most thyroid nodules are not cancerous.
For more information about thyroid cancer, visit the National Cancer Institute’s thyroid cancer page.
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What Are The More Serious Complications Of Hyperthyroidism
People with advanced and extreme hyperthyroidism face a ramshackle of problems, some of them life-threatening. The good news, though, is many patients do not reach this level of severity. Complications can include:
- Graves ophthalmopathy or Thyroid Eye Disease , which may soon be treatable using a new drug called Teprotumumab
- Irregular heartbeat, which can lead to:
- blood clots
- other heart problems
Bottom line: The longer you have an overactive thyroid and go without treatment, the greater the risk of lifelong complications, even after treatment. As over 60 percent of people with thyroid disease go undiagnosed, its important to listen to your body before reversible symptoms like weight loss and insomnia become life-threatening issues such as irregular heartbeat , bone loss , and infertility .
Do One Thing Right Now
Relax! Slowing things down is keyeven if it feels counterintuitive with all the sped up effects of the condition. The GDATF recommends practicing yoga, Tai Chi, self-hypnosis, and meditation.
Effects Of Skipping Thyroid Hormone Replacement
If you are hypothyroidwhether due to Hashimoto’s, Graves’ disease treatment, thyroid surgery, or congenital hypothyroidismfailing to take your thyroid hormone replacement medication can pose many risks to your health.
These risks include:
- Elevated cholesterol, including treatment-resistant high cholesterol and increased risk of heart disease
- Low body temperature;;feeling perpetually cold
- Fatigue,;muscle weakness, or joint pain
- Weight gain; inability to lose weight despite diet and exercise
- Infertility, miscarriage, stillbirth, or premature labor
- Menstrual irregularities
- Swollen hands, feet, and face
- Growth of thyroid nodules, increasing goiter size
- Increased risk of infection
Ultimately, if you are deprived of thyroid hormone for a long period of time, you face the risk of a very dangerous conditionmyxedema comawhich can ultimately be fatal.
Of particular importance, if you have had thyroid cancer, you can actually face an increased risk of thyroid cancer recurrence if you don’t take your medication.
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What Exactly Is An Overactive Thyroid
An overactive thyroid is exactly as it sounds.;
It’s the medical condition in the body which results in the overproduction of thyroid hormone from your thyroid gland.;
Does having a little bit extra thyroid hormone in your body really promote a problem for you?
Won’t it lead to weight loss?
Well, maybe, but that doesn’t mean it’s something that you actually want to happen!
The overstimulation of these important systems may result in some weight loss, but at the cost of several other potentially damaging symptoms as well.;
Because of this, you will most definitely want to have your thyroid evaluated and treated .;
Your thyroid is also important because it acts as the master hormone which helps regulate other hormonal systems in the body.;
Small changes in thyroid serum levels may result in big changes in other hormones as well.;
This is why patients with thyroid disorders often present with multiple symptoms all across their body.;
The good news is that if you have an overactive thyroid you will present with symptoms which can clue you into what is happening.;
These symptoms often cause patients to seek medical care which results in diagnosis and treatment.;
How you approach treatment is a different story and one which we will discuss below.
Can I Develop Hyperthyroidism During Or After Pregnancy
During early pregnancy, your body needs to produce more thyroid hormones than normal to help the baby develop. These hormones are particularly important for your babys brain and nervous system. Having thyroid hormone levels that are a little higher than normal is alright, but if your levels increase dramatically, your healthcare provider may need to form a treatment plan. High levels of hyperthyroidism can impact not only you, but also your baby.
It can be difficult to diagnose hyperthyroidism during pregnancy because your thyroid hormone levels naturally increase and the other symptoms of pregnancy mask signs of hyperthyroidism.
There is also a condition called postpartum thyroiditis that happens after your baby is born. This condition can happen during the first year after birth. Its more common in women who also have type 1 diabetes. Postpartum thyroiditis can start out as hyperthyroidism and then shift into hypothyroidism. However, this pattern doesnt happen to every woman with postpartum thyroiditis. If you begin having symptoms of a thyroid disease during or after pregnancy, talk to your healthcare provider.
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