Thyroid Diseases

Thyroid Diseases: What You Need to Know

Thyroid diseases are disorders that affect the function of the thyroid gland, a small butterfly-shaped gland located in the neck just below the Adam's apple. Common thyroid diseases include Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, Graves’ disease, and goiters. Over 20 million Americans have thyroid disease and one in eight women have thyroid problems.

Signs and Symptoms of Thyroid Disease

The most common symptoms associated with thyroid disease include:

  • Fatigue
  • Unexplained weight gain or loss
  • Sensitivity to cold or heat
  • Problems sleeping
  • Dry skin
  • Changes in hair and nails
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Depression
  • Muscle and joint pain

Types of Thyroid Diseases

The two most common types of thyroid diseases are hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism. Hyperthyroidism occurs when the thyroid gland produces too much thyroid hormone, causing the body to become overactive and Metabolic processes to speed up. Symptoms of hyperthyroidism include weight loss, rapid or irregular heartbeat, irritability, bulging eyes, anxiety, and fatigue.

Hypothyroidism occurs when the thyroid gland does not produce enough thyroid hormone causing the body to become sluggish and Metabolic processes to slow down. Symptoms of hypothyroidism include fatigue, weight gain, sensitivity to cold, dry skin, hoarseness, slow heart rate, muscle stiffness, sparse hair, and depression.

Diagnosis and Treatment of Thyroid Diseases

If you experience any of the symptoms associated with thyroid disease, it is important to talk to your doctor. To diagnose thyroid disease, your doctor will usually run a blood test to measure the amount of thyroid hormone in your body. Treatment options for thyroid disease may include medications such as Levothyroxine or anti-thyroid drugs, or a combination of these. In extreme cases, surgery may be necessary.

If left untreated, thyroid disease can lead to serious health conditions such as heart failure, infertility, goiters, and osteoporosis. If you are experiencing any symptoms of thyroid disease, be sure to talk to your doctor right away.