Thyroid: Is it Hypo or Hyper or just right?

Your thyroid is an unassuming little endocrine gland with the big job of controlling how quickly the body makes proteins, uses energy and controls how sensitive the body is to hormones. Sometimes the gland can get out of wack and the result can be Hypothyroidism or Hyperthyroidism. Learning the symptoms of these two conditions can help you determine when a conversation with your doctor is a good next step.

Some risk factor for developing issues with your thyroid are:

  • Gender (it’s more common in women)
  • Age (more prominant as we get older)
  • Family History (If thyroid problems developed in your mom, you should be checked, too)
  • Personal History

Let’s take a look at the conditions.

Hypothyroidism: When your thyroid is under performing

Symptoms of hypothyroidism can be mild or severe, but are often very subtle. People with a mild form of the condition may not have any symptoms at all. The most serious form of hypothyroidism is called myxedema and can lead to coma and possibly death. An underactive thyroid gland affects all organs and functions within the body, leading to both physical and emotional symptoms. Some of the most common symptoms of hypothyroidism in adults are:

  • Tiredness and weakness; feeling “run down”
  • Weight gain or difficulty losing weight
  • Constipation
  • Depression
  • Thinning or brittleness of the hair or nails
  • Cold intolerance
  • Sleepiness
  • Memory loss
  • Decreased libido
  • Muscle aches and pains

Those affected by more advanced cases of hypothyroidism may notice dryness or thickening of the skin; slow speech; abnormal menstrual cycles; puffiness of the face, hands, or feet and a decreased capacity for taste and smell.

If you are experiencing symptoms of hypothyroidism, your doctor can order simple blood tests to diagnose the condition. An underactive thyroid gland is in most cases easily and completely treated by daily administration of thyroid hormones in tablet form.

Hyperthyroidism: When your thyroid is working overtime

Graves’ disease is what causes most hyperthyroidism and in the disease the body’s natural defense (immune) system attacks the thyroid gland. The thyroid then fights back by making too much thyroid hormone. Like many thyroid problems, this often runs in families. Sometimes hyperthyroidism is caused by a swollen thyroid or small growths in the thyroid called thyroid nodules.

What are the symptoms? You may have no symptoms at all, or:

  • You may feel nervous, moody, weak, or tired.
  • Your hands may shake, your heart may beat fast, or you may have problems breathing.
  • You may be sweaty or have warm, red, itchy skin.
  • You may have more bowel movements than usual.
  • You may have fine, soft hair that is falling out.
  • You may lose weight even though you eat the same or more than usual.

If you have any of these symptoms, please call your doctor. Without treatment, hyperthyroidism can lead to heart problems, bone problems, and a dangerous condition called thyroid storm.

Have more questions? We’re here to help. You can call 317-338-4HER to talk to a registered nurse or use this form to talk to me directly.


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