The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland situated near the base of the neck.
The gland can secrete hormones essential to many functions, including metabolism and body temperature management.
A thyroid hormone imbalance can contribute to many health problems.
Ronald Kuppersmith, MD, FACS, a head and neck surgeon at the Texas A&M College of Medicine, provides important information about how to spot thyroid health problems.
According to him, the symptoms of a thyroid disorder are often subtle and gradual, but their effects can be very harmful.
There are two major thyroid diseases. One is hypothyroidism, which means the thyroid is underactive and produces too little thyroid hormone.
This disorder hinders signals and slows many functions within the body that could leave a person and their insides feeling less energized.
Common signs of hypothyroidism include:
Fatigue; Depression from low serotonin levels, the “feel-good” hormone; Loss of appetite; Weight gain; Forgetfulness; Low libido; Weak heartbeat; Dry, itchy skin; Constipation; Longer, heavier and more frequent menstrual periods; Muscle weakness and pains from damaged nerves; High blood pressure from slowed heartbeat; Feeling cold; Dry hair and hair loss; High cholesterol.
This disease can be treated with a synthetic thyroid hormone replacement to help increase and balance the thyroid hormone levels.
The other thyroid disease is hyperthyroidism, which is caused by an overactive thyroid.
In this disorder, the gland produces too much thyroid hormone. This can push the body into overdrive by excessively activating the energy-producing cells.
Common signs of hyperthyroidism include:
Difficulty sleeping; Anxiety or heightened nervousness; Increased appetite; Weight loss; Difficulty concentrating; Rapid heartbeat; Excessive sweating; Diarrhea or frequent bowel movements; Shorter, lighter and less frequent menstrual periods; High blood pressure from a rapid heartbeat; Feeling warm; Thinning hair on the head.
This disease can be treated with radioactive iodine therapy, which generally requires only one treatment.
It can help shrink the gland, causing the symptoms to diminish in three to six months.
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