Having thyroid disease can result from many factors including genetics, autoimmune disorders, and nutrient deficiencies. The condition is not uncommon and affects more than 12% of the U.S. population. While anyone can develop a thyroid disorder at any age, it occurs five to eight times more often in women than in men, with one in eight women likely to develop a thyroid disorder.
Your thyroid gland is rather tiny, and is positioned at the base of your neck, just below your Adam’s apple. It is narrow in the middle with two wide wings (resembling a butterfly) that wrap around your trachea, or windpipe. When it is normal, it is not swollen and difficult to locate.
Your thyroid manufactures hormones that travel in your blood to all parts of your body. When diseases of the thyroid cause the gland to make excessive or inadequate amounts of thyroid hormones, the effects can cause symptoms such as weight loss, weight gain, fatigue, or restlessness. Since these hormones control your most important body functions, irregular thyroid hormone levels can cause problems with your heart, muscles, bones, and fertility.
Unfortunately, up to 60% of people with thyroid disease don’t know they have the condition. Many symptoms of thyroid disease mimic other illnesses, so an accurate diagnosis requires a medical examination and blood test.
The physicians at Macomb Medical Clinic in Sterling Heights, Michigan, help patients identify and treat thyroid disease. They provide expert preventative services that screen for early stages of thyroid disease and many other conditions so you can begin treatment as early as possible for the best outcomes.
Find out more about the symptoms of thyroid disease and signs that your body may have a condition in which it produces too much or too few thyroid hormones.
Hyperthyroidism occurs when your body makes more than a normal amount of thyroid hormones, which speeds up your metabolic process. The effects of an overactive thyroid can initially make you feel like you have more energy, but it also makes your body use energy too fast. While this can make you feel tired, it can also cause erratic heartbeats, unintentional weight loss, and nervousness.
The most common cause of hyperthyroidism is Grave’s disease. This autoimmune disorder triggers your immune system to attack your thyroid and cause it to produce too much hormone. Hyperthyroidism can also occur as the result of diabetes, benign thyroid nodules, inflammation of the thyroid (thyroiditis), or too much iodine in your body.
Signs of hyperthyroidism
Individual signs of hyperthyroidism can vary by individual. The most common symptoms of this condition include:
- Irritability, nervousness, or anxiety
- Fatigue or muscle weakness
- Trouble sleeping
- Oversensitivity to heat
- Hand tremors
- Moist, smooth skin
- Rapid and irregular heartbeat
- Diarrhea or frequent bowel movements
- Unintended weight loss
- Goiter, an enlarged thyroid that makes your neck look swollen and may interfere with breathing or swallowing.
If you’re over age 60, you may have different symptoms than those that occur in younger adults. You may lose your appetite or withdraw socially. These signs of hyperthyroidism can often be mistaken for depression or dementia.
Hypothyroidism occurs when your body doesn’t make enough thyroid hormone. Having an inadequate level of thyroid hormone can cause many of your body’s important functions to slow down.
The most common cause of hypothyroidism is Hashimoto’s disease, an autoimmune disorder that causes your immune system to attack your thyroid. Hypothyroidism can also occur as the result of inflammation of the thyroid (thyroiditis), congenital hypothyroidism, radiation treatment of the thyroid, surgical removal of all or part of the thyroid, medicines for hyperthyroidism, or too little iodine in your diet.
Signs of hypothyroidism
Hypothyroidism develops slowly, so symptoms may go unnoticed for months or years.
Some of the most common signs of hypothyroidism include:
- Fatigue (extreme tiredness)
- Weight gain
- Depression or memory problems
- Oversensitivity to cold
- Joint and muscle pain
- Dry skin
- Dry, thinning hair
- Slower than normal heart rate
Ignoring signs of thyroid disease can lead to complications with the key body functions that thyroid hormones control. Find out more about getting an appropriate diagnosis for this treatable condition. Call our office today to arrange a consultation.