Medical Advice

Symptoms of the Thyroid Gland

Researchers have found that many people suffer from various disorders of the thyroid gland, but most are unaware of this. The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland located in the neck. This function has an essential role in metabolism. When there is a disruption of the thyroid’s activity, it affects many aspects of your health. The main symptoms of thyroid dysfunction are weight fluctuations, depression and unbalanced levels of energy. Since undiagnosed thyroid problems can dramatically increase the risk of obesity, cardiovascular disease, depression, anxiety, hair loss, sexual dysfunction, infertility, and other health problems, it is important to go early to the endocrinologist for investigation and treatment.

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The most common symptoms of thyroid problems

When not functioning properly, the thyroid gland can release too many or too few hormones. The condition where the thyroid produces too little hormone is called hypothyroidism, and the one which occurs when too many hormones are produced is called hyperthyroidism.

Specific symptoms of hypothyroidism are:

• exhaustion and fatigue
• depression
• concentration difficulties
• unexplained or excessive gaining of weight
• rough and dry skin accompanied by itching
• of dry, rough and brittle
• feeling cold, especially in the extremities
• Constipation
• increased menstrual flow
• frequent menstrual periods
• infertility or miscarriage.

Symptoms of hyperthyroidism are:

• nervousness
• irritability
• Increased quantity of sweat
• thinning of the skin
• brittle hair
• muscle weakness especially involving the upper arms and thighs
• trembling of hands
• panic disorder
• insomnia
• accelerated heart beat
• weight loss despite a good appetite
• accelerated intestinal transit
• rare menstruations with decreased blood flow.

– Muscle and joint pain, tendinitis and carpal tunnel syndrome – muscle and joint pains, weakness in the arms and a tendency to develop carpal tunnel syndrome in the arms and hands, tarsal tunnel syndrome and plantar fasciitis present in the legs may be symptoms of the thyroid gland’s undiagnosed problems. In case of hypothyroidism, the following may be present: weakness and muscle pain, including cramps and stiffness, joint pain, general discomfort, tingling or burning sensations in the lower leg. People suffering from hyperthyroidism may occur: difficulty in climbing stairs, to hold or to catch objects with hands, or to touch palms over the head.

– Goiter and neck discomfort – discomfort or swelling of the neck, presence of goiter or hoarse voice could be signs of an enlarged thyroid, found especially in hyperthyroidism.

– Changes in skin and hair – hair and skin can suffer changes. Hair loss, in particular, is often associated with the thyroid gland. In the case of hypothyroidism the hair becomes brittle, coarse, dry and breaks easily, and the skin becomes rough, thickened and scaly. An increased hair loss may happen, and hair loss of the outer edge of the eyebrows. People suffering from hyperthyroidism will have fragile and thin skin and will notice a severe hair loss.

– Intestinal problems – severe or long term constipation is frequently associated with hypothyroidism, while diarrhea or irritable bowel syndrome is correlated with hyperthyroidism.

– Disorders of menstruation and fertility problems – painful and heavy menstrual periods are often associated with hypothyroidism. When menstruation period is shorter and it is less important quantitatively, may be involved hyperthyroidism. Infertility can be associated with multiple undiagnosed and untreated thyroid conditions.

– Family history – If in your family history there are people who have thyroid problems, there is a high risk for you to develop a thyroid related disease. You may not always be aware of thyroid dysfunction in your family, as many family members may not know that they suffer from certain thyroid conditions or refer to them as “gland or goiter problems.” It is important to pay attention to excessive weight increase family members, because they can be triggered by thyroid disease.

– Problems with cholesterol – high cholesterol, especially values that do not decrease after drug treatments, diet and exercise, can be a sign of undiagnosed hypothyroidism. Unusually low levels of cholesterol may be signs of hyperthyroidism.

– Depression and anxiety – with or without sudden panic disorders, depression and anxiety may be signs of thyroid disease. Hypothyroidism is most often associated with depression, while hyperthyroidism is quite frequently correlated with anxiety or panic attacks. Depression that does not improve after treatment with antidepressants may be a sign of undiagnosed thyroid disease.

– Changes in weight – even if you follow a diet low in fat, low in calories, have a rigorous program of exercise and you fail to lose weight, but, on the contrary, gain pounds, there might be a thyroid problem. Difficulties in losing weight can be a sign of hypothyroidism.

– Fatigue – Even if you sleep 8-10 hours a night, you feel exhausted and you are unable to function without sleep during the day, then this could signal a dysfunction of the thyroid gland, i.e. hypothyroidism. In the case of hyperthyroidism, you may suffer from insomnia, after which you will feel tired throughout the day.

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