Your thyroid is a small gland located at the base of your neck and below the center of your throat. It works as part of the endocrine system by making hormones that regulate your body’s metabolism.
Certain disorders can cause your thyroid to produce too much or too little hormones, causing a variety of unpleasant symptoms, including fatigue, weight fluctuations, anxiety and trouble sleeping.
Let’s look at four of the most common thyroid disorders.
Hyperthyroidism causes your thyroid to produce too much thyroid hormone. Research shows that the condition affects between 1-3% of the U.S. population and is more common as you age.
Because it can speed up your metabolic process, hyperthyroidism may cause symptoms such as:
- Rapid pulse
- High blood pressure
- Nervousness and irritability
- Tremors in your hands
- Unintentional weight loss
On the other end of the spectrum is hypothyroidism, where your thyroid gland is underactive and doesn’t produce enough hormones. Symptoms may vary, but can include:
- Feeling fatigued frequently, whether at work or out for a walk at Ridley Creek State Park.
- Dry skin and hair
- Memory problems
Grave’s disease is an autoimmune disorder and the leading cause of hyperthyroidism in the United States. If you have the disorder, your immune system mistakenly attacks your thyroid gland. It causes many of the same symptoms as hyperthyroidism, but you may also experience:
- Bulging eyes
- Thickened red skin on your legs and feet
- Goiter (irregular growth of thyroid gland)
Left untreated, Grave’s disease can cause heart problems and brittle bones.
Hashimoto’s is an autoimmune disorder that is a leading cause of hypothyroidism. While anyone can develop the condition, it’s most common in middle-aged women. Similar to Grave’s disease, Hashimoto’s occurs when your body’s immune system attacks your thyroid. However, instead of causing too much thyroid hormone, it impedes the gland’s ability to make enough.
People with mild cases of the condition often have no obvious symptoms. However, as it progresses, you will experience many of the common symptoms of hypothyroidism.
Diagnosing and Treating Thyroid Problems
Symptoms of thyroid disorders can be similar to those of many other conditions. This is why it’s important to schedule an appointment with your doctor to determine the cause. They will use blood tests to determine your thyroid hormone levels, and in some cases, may use imaging as well.
Treatment will vary based on the type of thyroid disorder you have and may include medications to manage symptoms and balance your hormone levels. In certain cases, surgery may be required.
For more information on thyroid disorders or to schedule an appointment with a specialist, contact Pinnacle ENT today.