Over the years, the significant burden of thyroid disease has increased across the globe. One of the most common endocrine disorders worldwide, particularly in women. A report states that women are eight times more likely to develop a thyroid disease than men. Also, thyroid problems increase with age and may affect adults differently than children. While weight gain, hair loss and daily fatigue arrive as the early symptoms related to thyroid disease, many serious health issues could develop later due to negligence and inaccessibility of medical treatment.
The piece intends to shift readers focus towards thyroid disorders, their causes and symptoms and treatments available.
All about the ‘Thyroid’
The human body’s regulator, the thyroid gland is located in the front of our neck and wraps around the windpipe or trachea. The thyroid resonates with the shape of a butterfly; a small part in the middle and two wide parts extending around the side of the throat.
If you place your fingers on the sides of your Adam’s apple and swallow, you’ll feel your thyroid gland sliding under your fingers.
The thyroid gland is responsible for coordinating energy, growth and metabolism in your body, basically working as a regulator. Thyroid hormones control the speed of our metabolism that further helps the body use energy. Thyroid disease can slow down or rev up metabolism by disrupting the production of thyroid hormones. People suffer from thyroid disorders when the gland either produces less or more thyroid hormones.
Hyperthyroidism and Hypothyroidism
When the human body starts making too much thyroid hormone, the disorder is called hyperthyroidism. When the Pituitary gland signals the thyroid gland to release thyroid hormone based on the need but the gland can’t release more thyroid hormone, this disorder leads to Hypothyroidism.
13 Common Signs of Thyroid disorders
- High Heart Rate
When there is a strain on the thyroid gland while producing too many hormones, blood pressure can increase, which further leads to an elevated heart rate. A normal heart rate counts between 60 and 100 beats per minute.
2. Excessive Tiredness or Fatigue
A slow heartbeat and low blood pressure can make you feel exhausted. Excessive sleep or difficulties waking up and staying awake in the morning should not be ignored.
In the case of hyperthyroidism, people fight with feelings of anxiety and nervousness. They might experience difficulty in controlling emotional outbursts, thus making it difficult to deal with normal life.
4. Sudden decrease or increase in the weight
Low thyroid function leads to a low metabolism rate, ultimately leading to rapid weight gain. On the opposite side, if your thyroid gland is producing too many thyroid hormones, it ultimately results in a rapid loss of weight.
5. Feeling Chilly or Overheated
Low thyroid hormones result in low blood circulation which further lower downs the body’s blood pressure. This drops the temperature and results in feeling chills. Whereas in hyperthyroidism, the body reacts oppositely, leading to excessive sweating.
6. Losing Concentration
Losing the ability to track names and dates or getting confused with the digits lead could be a symptom of thyroid trouble.
7. Hair Loss
If you start to experience extreme hair loss or hair thinning and notice a few bald spots, which might signal thyroid disorder.
8. Digestive Problems
Have your digestive habits changed recently? People with hypothyroidism disorder struggle with constipation issues, while those who experience loose stools more frequently are struggling with a hyperactive thyroid.
9. Muscle Aches and Trouble Swallowing
Unexpected muscle aches throughout the body could be a signal of abnormal thyroid levels. Since the thyroid gland is positioned in the neck, the neck muscles experience the first symptoms, like difficulty with swallowing.
10.Changes in Menstrual Cycle
Hormonal changes impact our sexual functions. If you are experiencing irregular periods, painful ones and are struggling with stronger ‘PMS’ emotions, you might get yourself tested for thyroid disorders. The thyroid hormone interacts with other hormones that control the menstrual cycle, and abnormal levels of it can disrupt their signals. Also, the thyroid hormone directly affects the ovaries and uterus.
11. Issues with sleeping
Imbalanced thyroid levels can mess up your sleep schedule. If you are not able to stay asleep or are waking up many times throughout the night, you could be experiencing hyperthyroidism. In hypothyroidism, one can experience excessive napping and the inability to stay awake.
12. Changes in the eye
Thyroid issues can affect your eyes in numerous ways. This includes dry eyes, watery eyes, red eyes, a “stare,” double vision, difficulty closing your eyelids, bulging eyes, or a vision change. This is most commonly because the thyroid change is associated with an imbalance in the immune system, which is closely tied to the ocular system.
Bulging eyes are most commonly associated with hyperthyroidism. You will likely not notice your eyes bulging because the process will be gradual. It is most likely that others will notice this symptom first, instead.
13. Swelling in the neck
A swelling or enlargement in the neck is the most visible clue of thyroid-related disease. A goiter may occur with either hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism. Sometimes swelling in the neck can result from thyroid cancer or nodules, lumps that grow inside the thyroid.
Symptoms of Hyperthyroidism (Overactive Thyroid)
- Frequent bowel movements
- Difficulty sleeping
- Eyes that protrude out
- Hair changes – brittle, thin, hair loss
- Irregular heartbeat
- Muscle weakness
- Rapid fingernail growth
- Shaky hands
- Unexplained weight loss
- Thinning skin
Symptoms of Hypothyroidism (Underactive Thyroid)
- Unexplainable weight gain
- Increased sensitivity to cold
- Dry skin
- Puffy face
- Hoarseness in the voice
- Muscle weakness
- Elevated blood cholesterol level
- Pain, stiffness or swelling in the joints
- Thinning of the hair
- Slowed heart rate
- Heavier than normal menstrual periods
- Impaired memory
At-home Thyroid Neck Check
- Hold a handheld mirror in your hand and focus on the lower front area of your neck- above the collar bones and below the larynx.
- While keeping sharp eyes on the focused area, tilt your head back.
- Take a sip of water while being in the above-mentioned position and swallow.
- Examine your neck carefully while you swallow. Repeat several times to get a clear look.
- You will see your thyroid moving above and coming back to its original position.
- In between, if you notice any bulges or protrusions, see your physician immediately.
When left untreated, hypothyroidism can raise cholesterol levels and make you more likely to have a stroke or heart attack. In severe cases, very low levels of thyroid hormones can trigger a loss of consciousness and a life-threatening drop in body temperature. Untreated hyperthyroidism can cause serious heart problems and brittle bones.
Thyroid disorders can vary from small to life-threatening cancer as well.