The thyroid is an important gland which regulates a variety of functions, including temperature, heartbeat, growth and development, and metabolism. Since the thyroid affects multiple parts of the body, problems can be difficult to diagnose as their symptoms may share characteristics with other conditions.
Types of Thyroid Problems
There are many problems that can arise with the thyroid gland. They vary in severity, and may or may not have symptoms. They can be caused by a number of issues, including disease, medications, and inflammations.
Goiter: A swollen thyroid, which can be harmless or be associated with a particular type of inflammation called Hashimoto’s thyroiditis.
Thyroiditis: An inflamed thyroid, which may result from an autoimmune issue or viral infection. Thyroiditis may have no symptoms, or can be painful.
Hyperthyroidism: When the thyroid gland produces too much thyroid hormone. Can be caused by an overstimulated thyroid nodule or Graves disease.
Hypothyroidism: When the thyroid gland doesn’t produce enough thyroid hormone. Is generally caused by damage to the thyroid following disease.
Thyroid Cancer: Cancer of the thyroid, which is a rare occurrence, and can usually be cured.
Thyroid Nodule: A common condition of lumps or masses in the thyroid gland. They may not cause any problems. They can also secrete excess hormones and cause hyperthyroidism.
Thyroid Storm: An uncommon form of hyperthyroidism where very high thyroid hormone levels cause extreme illness.
Symptoms of thyroid problems are wide-ranging and may be mistaken for other issues. Consulting with a physician and having thyroid tests are necessary to completely determine if the thyroid is not functioning correctly.
What to Look For: Signs and Symptoms of Thyroid Problems
While tests must be done to determine if the thyroid is not working properly, there are many signs and symptoms which may indicate thyroid issues. You can keep an eye on these indicators at home. Most thyroid problems will be categorized into hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism.
Occurs when the thyroid gland is producing too much hormone.
- Sudden weight loss
- Feeling warm or sweating – since cells are on overdrive, they burn a lot of energy
- Feeling nervous, jittery or anxious – too much thyroid hormone keeps metabolism and body in active mode, making it difficult to relax or wind down.
- Frequent bowel movements or diarrhea
- Heart palpitations or a ‘fluttery’ feeling – too many hormones flood the system and cause the heart rate to increase
- Enlarged thyroid or lumps in the neck
- Change in menstrual periods
Occurs when the thyroid is not producing enough hormone.
- Weight gain despite exercise and no change in eating habits
- Cold feelings or chills – the underactive thyroid slows down the whole body, and thus cells burn less energy
- Hair becomes dry, brittle, and breaks or falls out. The low thyroid hormone production can put hair follicles into dormant mode, and result in hair loss
- Unexplained tingling, pain, or numbness – low thyroid hormone production can damage nerves over time, and send faulty signals to the brain which feel like pain
- Loss of interest in sex – low thyroid hormone may contribute to low libido
- Muscle weakness, exhaustion, and fatigue despite full nights of sleep can indicate low thyroid hormone levels, as muscles may not be getting adequate amounts of signals
Other Symptoms to watch for
- Neck feels strange or has lumps
- Hoarse voice or change in voice
- Issues with concentration, memory, and general brain fogginess
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
Generally speaking, a single symptom alone will not indicate thyroid problems. However, the signs and symptoms of thyroid problems will likely manifest in multiple ways. If you notice your neck feeling strange or lumpy, and develop issues with concentration and memory, as well as any of the symptoms listed above, consider consulting with a doctor.
The Florida Medical Clinic Endocrinology Department
Thyroid tests are the only way to positively determine if your thyroid is not functioning properly. The Florida Medical Clinic’s Department of Endocrinology is your best resource to evaluate and treat the thyroid glands. Our team is highly experienced, and will determine the type of treatment best for every individual patient. If you have noticed any combination of the symptoms above, and suspect your thyroid may not be working properly, schedule an appointment with us today! We will help ensure that your thyroid is functioning at its best.