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Thyroid Disorders - Symptoms

Updated on February 9, 2020
Pamela99 profile image

After 22 years as an RN, I now write about medical issues and new medical advances. Diet, exercise, treatment, and lifestyle are important.

Thyroid Gland

Located at the base of your neck is the small thyroid gland (glandula thyreoidea), which is shaped like a butterfly and wraps around the windpipe. This amazing organ controls the metabolism in your body, which is the way your body uses energy. It also helps regulate other body functions, such as growth and development.

Hormones Produced by the Thyroid

There are three hormones produced by the thyroid, which includes:

  1. Triiodothyronine, also known as T3
  2. Tetraiodothyronine, also called thyroxine or T4
  3. Calcitonin

“Strictly speaking, only T3 and T4 are proper thyroid hormones. They are made in what are known as the follicular epithelial cells of the thyroid.” Iodine is essential for each hormone and it is something we get from our diet.

The pituitary gland (a pea sized gland located in the brain) signals the thyroid gland when to release more or less of the hormones. Calcitonin is slightly different as it is made from C-cells and is involved with our calcium levels and bone metabolism.

It is possible to have hypothyroid or hyperthyroid problems. They have very different symptoms.

Hypothyroidism Signs and Symptoms

When the thyroid gland is not functioning well there are several possible side effects, such as:

  • Fatigue - Feeling tired is a very common symptom
  • Increased sensitivity to cold
  • Hair loss
  • Weight gain, unexplained
  • Weakness, with aches in your muscles and joints
  • Pale, dry or itchy skin
  • Trouble concentrating or remembering
  • Brittle nails
  • Feeling down or depressed
  • Excessive or prolonged menstrual bleeding
  • Enlargement of the tongue
  • Constipation

Hypothyroid disease is easily diagnosed with a simple blood test and it is treatable with medication. There are several thyroid medications available.

Silent Symptoms Of Thyroid Problems You May Be Ignoring

Hyperactive Thyroid Symptoms

If the thyroid makes too much T3 or T4 the thyroid will become overactive. The thyroid gland may also become enlarged or individual nodules may also occur. An exam called a thyroid scintigraphy is sometimes ordered to check the nodules for the production of abnormal amounts of hormones. An enlarged thyroid or the nodules are usually not too serious.

The most common hyperthyroid symptoms include:

  • Weight loss that is unintentional
  • Increased appetite
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Palpitations or pouding of your heart
  • Changes in menstrual patterns
  • Increased sensitivity to heat
  • Sweating
  • Tremors, typically a fine tremor in your fingers and hands
  • Nervousness, irritability and anxiety
  • Changes in bowel patterns, particularly more frequent bowel movements
  • Enlarged thyroid gland (goiter)
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle weakness
  • Skin thinning
  • Fine, brittle hair

Hyperthyroid disease can be difficult to diagnose as the symptoms can mimic other health problems. An older adult may have no signs or symptoms.

Medical Conditions Related to Hyperthyroidism

There are several diseases due to an excess of T4 hormone production.

  • Graves disease - most common, runs in families, more common in women
  • Plummer’s Disease - toxic multinodular goiter, iodine deficiency the cause
  • Thyroiditis - swelling or inflammation of thyroid gland

Complications of hyperthyroiditis includes:

  • Heart problems - A rapid heart rate, atrial fibrillation that increases the risk of stroke
  • Osteoporosis - Brittle bones occur if the thyroid is untreated too much T4 interferes with calcium for the bones
  • Eye problems (see below)
  • Skin redness or swelling - with Grave’s disease
  • Thyrotoxic crisis - a sudden intensification of all symptoms (fever, fact heart rate)

Graves ophthalmopathy may be a problem, especially if you smoke. The signs and symptoms include:

  • Dry eyes
  • Swollen or red eyes
  • Protruding eyeballs
  • Light sensitivity, reduced eye movement
  • Blurry or double vision
  • Excessive tearing, discomfort in one or both eyes

The treatment for hyperthyroidism is antithyroid medications that interfere with the production of your thyroid hormones. Sometimes radioactive iodine therapy is used as it will damage the cells that make thyroid hormones. Surgery to remove part or all of the thyroid gland is used when all treatment fails. Beta blocker medications may also be prescribed to slow down a rapid heart rate.

Hyperthyroid Risk Factors

The risk factors include:

  • Family history, particularly a family history of Grave’s disease
  • Females
  • Personal history or some chronic illnesses - Type 1 diabetes, Pernicious anemia, primary adrenal insufficiency, certain autoimmune diseases
  • Age - middle age adults most common
  • Smoking
  • Radioactive iodine therapy

Thyroid Trouble: 12 Warning Signs

Additional Thyroid Disease

Hashimoto’s disease is an autoimmune disease where the immune system attacks the thyroid gland and it can cause a goiter. If you notice swelling just below your Adam’s apple you should see a doctor. Hashimoto’s disease actually causes hypothyroidism. It is most common in women, usually middle-aged. Often the underactive thyroid is the way this disorder is diagnosed.

Thyroid cancer can occur with papillary thyroid cancer being the most common. There is a specific gene mutation that may be the cause. There is medication available for people that live near a nuclear power plant, as this is a risk factor.

In Conclusion

Hypothyroidism is a common condition but easily treated. If you have symptoms of either hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism, see your doctor. These conditions are more easily treated when they are found early.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

© 2020 Pamela Oglesby

Comments

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  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    3 months ago from Sunny Florida

    Hi Rajan,

    Thank you that good information and for your comments.

  • rajan jolly profile image

    Rajan Singh Jolly 

    3 months ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA.

    Great information. Thyroid problems are unfortunately on the rise today and this has been attributed to our diet which includes GM foods like wheat, and milk which is very high in hormones, both natural and added.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    4 months ago from Sunny Florida

    Hi Flourish,

    I am glad you found his article useful. I appreciate your generous comments.

  • FlourishAnyway profile image

    FlourishAnyway 

    4 months ago from USA

    Somehow I think I missed this wind article. This is excellent information. Several family members have thyroid problems. I didn’t know about the need to take thyroid medication if you live near a nuclear plant.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    4 months ago from Sunny Florida

    Hi Adrienne, You are absolutely right. There are so many people that have thyroid disorders with various symptoms. The good news is that once a patient has a diagnosis the treatments are typically simple.

    Thank you for reading and commenting.

  • alexadry profile image

    Adrienne Farricelli 

    4 months ago

    Hi Pamela, thanks for sharing this important information about the thyroid gland. Thyroid problems seem to cause many symptoms that may be confused for something else.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    4 months ago from Sunny Florida

    Hi Ms Dora, I am glad to hear the cysts were benign. It is good to know the symptoms for thyroid problems regardless.

    I appreciate your comments.

  • MsDora profile image

    Dora Weithers 

    4 months ago from The Caribbean

    I started paying attention to thyroid information only after my doctor became concerned with some little cyst-like growths on my gland. Thank God, that they are benign and have remained as they always were-no growth. Thanks for this detailed lesson disorders and symptoms.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    4 months ago from Sunny Florida

    Hi MG, I have medical training and your expertise is just in a different area. I think we learn much from each other. I appreciate your comments.

  • emge profile image

    MG Singh 

    4 months ago from Singapore

    You are a wonder. You have given me so much information about things I only had a vague idea. Thank you.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    4 months ago from Sunny Florida

    Lorna, Thank you so much for the birthday wishes.

  • Lorna Lamon profile image

    Lorna Lamon 

    4 months ago

    Many happy returns of the day Pamela. Hope you had a lovely birthday.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    4 months ago from Sunny Florida

    Hello Paula, I would hope thyroid problems are diagnosed better now then they were 20 years ago. I know some of the symptoms of thyroid problems can mimic other diseases, but simple blood tests can tell the doc everything he really needs to know about thyroid function.

    Hypo and Hyperthryroid disease are common but easily treated most of the time. I always appreciate you stopping by and commenting Paula. Thank you for your generous comments.

  • fpherj48 profile image

    Suzie 

    4 months ago from Carson City

    Pam.....You certainly put out excellent work, my friend. It's evident your research is impeccable. Thyroid issues can wreak havoc on our system. I know several individuals who must deal with with either hyper or hypo and be strict with medications as well as lifestyle.

    One good friend of mine, suffered for so long with unpleasant symptoms that went "undiagnosed" as a thyroid issue the whole time, she then suffered long term anxiety. This was over 20 yrs ago and once accurately diagnosed & placed on the appropriate Rx & program, she finally experienced some relief & normalcy.

    Your article is very valuable info,Pam. Thank you.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    4 months ago from Sunny Florida

    Hi Maria, It is good you are teaching your students to assess everything. I didn't think about including the psych field misdiagnosing patients. That is an excellent point.

    I know you are an outstanding teacher and you wrote that wonderful book for nursing students.

    I appreciate the praise you give me. I hope you are having a good week, Maria. Love and hugs.

  • marcoujor profile image

    Maria Jordan 

    4 months ago from Jeffersonville PA

    Hi Pamela,

    This article is well-detailed and researched as usual.

    When I teach my students about the mind-body connection, I stress the importance of an excellent assessment (including thyroid function studies).

    The psych field may be quick to diagnose someone with Depression, when they have, in fact, Hypothyroidism.

    Sharing and grateful to you - have a lovely week. Hugs, Maria

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    4 months ago from Sunny Florida

    Hi Doris, Since you have several health problems it is hard to know about the human growth hormone is the cause or is it just there DNA. I do not of any way to know for sure if the thyroid caused the extra height or not. Thanks for sharing your concerns about the thyroid function. I wish I could be more helpful.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    4 months ago from Sunny Florida

    Hi Audry, I am glad to know my medical articles are helpful to you. It is difficult to always know what is causing a particular symptom. If you are on the correct dose of Levothyroxin I wouldn't think the symptoms are from your thyroid.but I am not a doctor, so the doctor is the one to ask.

    I appreciate you sharing your concerns and for your very nice comments.

  • MizBejabbers profile image

    Doris James MizBejabbers 

    4 months ago from Beautiful South

    Thank you for the information, Pamela. I should have mentioned that my ex-husband and my granddaughter (now grown) are tall and excessively thin while the rest of us tend to be short.

  • vocalcoach profile image

    Audrey Hunt 

    4 months ago from Idyllwild Ca.

    I love your informative articles directed at health. There is so much to learn and every little bit of knowledge helps to bring about awareness.

    I take Levothyroxin for my underactive thyroid. I still live with many of the symptoms but it's hard to know whether these complaints are caused by the thyroid or other causes like diabetes.

    I save each article you so kindly share with us, including this one. Thank you, Pamela, for sharing your expertise. Much appreciated, my friend.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    4 months ago from Sunny Florida

    Hello Alyssa, The fact that low or high thyroid hormones impact our bodies and they are easily treated in most cases. I am glad you like my medical articles. Thhanks so much for your comments.

  • Alyssa Nichol profile image

    Alyssa 

    4 months ago from Ohio

    I appreciate your articles so much, Pamela! They are always interesting and informative, and I learn something new each time. I didn't know a lot about the Thyroid before reading, but I was surprised to learn about the various diseases associated with an excess of T4, as well as the other health complications from hyperthyroiditis. This isn't something to play around with, but it's good to know that it's easily treatable. Thank you!

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    4 months ago from Sunny Florida

    Hi Doris, The thyroid hormones impact the human growth hormone, so I think it can affect height. I always read that hyperthyroidism is more common in females.

    I have to think you do have the gene despite what 23andme says.I'm glad you were treated before you had full-blown cancer. I appreciate you sharing your exerience and commenting. Have a good week, Doris.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    4 months ago from Sunny Florida

    Hi Linda, I am glad your sister's thyroid is under control. If someone sees there doctor regularly while checking their labwork, they would be under control. This does run in families, so it would be good for your thyroid hormones to be checked periodically. Thanks for commenting, Linda.

  • AliciaC profile image

    Linda Crampton 

    4 months ago from British Columbia, Canada

    Thanks for sharing the detailed and useful information, Pamela. My sister has a thyroid problem, but is seems to be under control at the moment.

  • MizBejabbers profile image

    Doris James MizBejabbers 

    4 months ago from Beautiful South

    Pamela, this is the best article I've ever seen on thyroid problems. I think I've told you that Hashimoto's runs in my family. As far as I know, every aunt, uncle and cousin on my mother's side has it, and so do I. However, 23andme says that I don't have the gene for it. (Really now?) Our problem is with the TSH. We may have perfect T3 and T4 readings, but still be far off. Although my doctor knew my family history and was keeping close tabs on my thyroid, I still had to develop nodules before he realized something was amiss. I'm glad he advised that my thyroid be immediately removed because my nodules were precancerous, and he said the condition was caught just in time.

    Question concerning hyperthyroidism, can this condition cause a child to shoot up in height and be tall and underweight when the rest of the family tends to be small to normal height? Thanks for sharing this information with us.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    4 months ago from Sunny Florida

    Hi Lora, Vitamin K is also good for the bones. If you are already showing osteoporosis on your bone density scans you probably should be on another supplement in my opinion. I have had very serious osteoporosis and 2 back surgeries later I am not better due to the osteoporosis, so I can only share my experience. I am on a strong perscription now and my bone density test has improved.

    I am glad the article was useful for you. I hope your doctor has checked your thyroid blood work. I appreciate you sharing your problem and for your comments. Have a good week, Lora.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    4 months ago from Sunny Florida

    Hi Donna, My mother was hypothyroid and it seemed like they changed her dosage of medication fairly often also. You should feel better when you are on the right dosage.

    I appreciate your comments. Have a good week, Donna.

  • Lora Hollings profile image

    Lora Hollings 

    4 months ago

    I learned a lot of very useful information from reading your excellent article about the thyroid, Pamela. I've been diagnosed with osteoporosis in my lower back and hip so I'm taking large amounts of vitamin d and calcium supplements but may have to take something more potent soon if my dexa bone density scan doesn't show improvement the next time. Now, I'm wondering if it isn't related to the thyroid. I'm glad that I have been enlightened by your article. I find that many doctors seem to miss important symptoms. Thanks for this great info!

  • Donna-Rayne profile image

    Donna Rayne 

    4 months ago from Greenwood, In

    Excellent article Ms. Pamela! I suffer from Hypothyroidism. In fact, my doctor just increased my thyroid meds coz I'm a bit off! Thank you for an informative article!

    Blessings,

    Donna Rayne

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    4 months ago from Sunny Florida

    Hi Ruby, The gland is small but so important. I appreciate your very nice comments.

  • always exploring profile image

    Ruby Jean Richert 

    4 months ago from Southern Illinois

    For the thyroid to be such a small organ, it can reek havoc on the body. It is important to know the signs and symptoms. Your article is well done..

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    4 months ago from Sunny Florida

    Hi Peggy, I think people who go in for a yearly exam probably do get tested. Thank you so much for your praise, but as a nurse medical information is more up by alley than other topcis.

    Have a great week, Peggy.

  • Peggy W profile image

    Peggy Woods 

    4 months ago from Houston, Texas

    With our yearly physicals, our doctor always tests the thyroid function along with a host of other things that can be tested with a blood test. For people who do not often visit a doctor, this is good information for them to know and be aware of these symptoms. You always do a good job sharing medical information with us, Pamela.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    4 months ago from Sunny Florida

    Hi JC, Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

  • JC Scull profile image

    JC Scull 

    4 months ago from Gainesville, Florida

    Hello Pamela,

    Excellent article.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    4 months ago from Sunny Florida

    Hi Mel, I'm glad it ddoesn't run in your family. Thanks so much for your comments.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    4 months ago from Sunny Florida

    Hi Clive, I know a lot of people like Redbull and I don't think it affects the thyroid. If you drank one a day it would probably not have any bad effect on the body, but if you chugged one after the other it would probably not be healthy at all. I wish I had more definitive information for you. Thank for commenting.

  • Mel Carriere profile image

    Mel Carriere 

    4 months ago from San Diego California

    Fortunately I don't think this runs in my family but it's good to know the signs. Great work.

  • clivewilliams profile image

    Clive Williams 

    4 months ago from Jamaica

    very good information Pam. Does redbull affect the thyroid?

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    4 months ago from Sunny Florida

    Hi Linda, I am glad you can control the Hashimoto's disease with your diet. That is wonderful. I appreciate you sharing your situation s this is good for anyone to know. My sister has Hashimoto's but it apparently very mild. Thanks for sharing your situation and commenting.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    4 months ago from Sunny Florida

    Hi Lorna, I am glad you mum finally got a correct diagnosis. I think the doctors will check you periodically as well. I appreciate your very nice comments. Have a great week.

  • lindacee profile image

    Linda Chechar 

    4 months ago from Arizona

    I've had Hashimoto's for a number of years but my TPO antibodies have dropped down to 150. I don't eat as much gluten, sugar, dairy and nightshades. I don't take a prescription but I do take selenium, zinc and inositol that have reduced my thyroid nodules.

  • Lorna Lamon profile image

    Lorna Lamon 

    4 months ago

    An excellent and informative article about this problem which affects so many people, It does run in my family and my mum was finally diagnosed in her 40's. It can be difficult to detect as it does mimic other conditions which you have explained and this is what happened in my mum's case. Thankfully it is treatable and as a result I also have regular checks. Thank you for drawing awareness Pamela and writing such a detailed and useful article.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    4 months ago from Sunny Florida

    Hi Chitrangada, This is a common problem, so I am not surprised that you know people with this disorder. Your comments are appreciated Chitrngada. Have a good week.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    4 months ago from Sunny Florida

    Hi Bill, Thyroid problems are common but most of the time they are easily treated with one morning pill. Unless someone volunteers the information you probably wouldn't know. I appreciate your comments Bill. Have a good week.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    4 months ago from Sunny Florida

    Hi Linda, I am glad you finally went to a doctor who checked you. It should have been done, obviously,but at least you are on medication now. I have a family history also, but so far, so good. Thanks for your comments.

    Have a lovely Sunday Linda.

  • Carb Diva profile image

    Linda Lum 

    4 months ago from Washington State, USA

    Pamela,despite a family history, my doctors never checked me for thyroid problems. When I switched to a new physician 6 months ago, that was one of the first tests he recommended; my thyroid numbers were so very out of whack it makes me wonder how long it had been that way and how much better I could have felt if it had been taken care of earlier. I feel like a different person now.

  • billybuc profile image

    Bill Holland 

    4 months ago from Olympia, WA

    Great information, Pamela. I'm not sure I've ever known anyone with a thyroid problem...but then maybe I wouldn't notice if I didn't see them often and know them well.

  • ChitrangadaSharan profile image

    Chitrangada Sharan 

    4 months ago from New Delhi, India

    Well written and informative article about Thyroid disorder.

    I know so many person, who are affected by this. But, it can be managed, by means of medicine and regular check ups.

    You have explained everything, which we need to know, very thoroughly. Will pass this on.

    Thank you for sharing.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    4 months ago from Sunny Florida

    Hi Eric, Doctors often routinely check thyroid levels. The treatments for low thyroid level is simply a pill to bring them up. For high thyroid hormone levels they have to bring it down, so they try medication first and it just depends on the patient's response.

    I apreciate your comments, Eric.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    4 months ago from Sunny Florida

    Hi Liz, I am glad this was an informative article for you. I tried to give all the information, yet keep it simple. Thanks for your comments.

  • Ericdierker profile image

    Eric Dierker 

    4 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

    Really interesting and well laid out. I will get a test during my next blood workup. ugh. I am not sure I get the treatment concept down.

  • Eurofile profile image

    Liz Westwood 

    4 months ago from UK

    This is an interesting and well-structured article. I have learnt a lot about the role of the thyroid and conditions associated with it.

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