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Nutrition & General Wellness

Common Thyroid Problems

3-82164 Common Thyroid Problems Illustrations (3) Medical illustration    Front view of head and neck showing thyroid.The thyroid is a gland in the neck. It makes thyroid hormone. A hormone is a chemical messenger for the body. If there is a problem with the thyroid, the level of thyroid hormone may change. This can lead to symptoms.

Hypothyroidism

This is when the thyroid gland doesn’t make enough hormone. The most common cause of hypothyroidism is Hashimoto thyroiditis. This occurs when the body’s immune system attacks the thyroid gland. Hypothyroidism may also occur if there’s a severe deficiency of iodine in the body. The thyroid needs iodine to make hormone. Problems with the pituitary gland can lead to not enough production of thyroid hormone. Hypothyroidism will also occur if the thyroid gland is removed during surgery.

Common symptoms include:

  • Low energy and tiredness

  • Depression

  • Feeling cold

  • Muscle pain

  • Slowed thinking    

  • Constipation

  • Heavier menstrual periods with prolonged bleeding 

  • Weight gain

  • Dry and brittle skin, hair, nails

  • Excessive sleepiness

Hyperthyroidism

This is when the thyroid gland makes too much hormone. The most common cause is Graves disease. This is due to the body’s immune system telling the thyroid to make too much hormone. Another cause is a small bump (nodule) in the thyroid gland. This can cause hyperthyroidism if the cells in the nodule make too much thyroid hormone and stop hormone production in the rest of the thyroid gland.

Common symptoms include:

  • Shaking, nervousness, irritability

  • Feeling hot

  • A rapid, irregular heartbeat

  • Muscle weakness, fatigue

  • More frequent bowel movements

  • Shorter, lighter menstrual periods

  • Weight loss

  • Hair loss

  • Bulging eyes

Nodules

Nodules are lumps of tissue in the thyroid gland. Most often, the cause of nodules isn’t known. But they may be more common in people who’ve had medical radiation to the head or neck. Sometimes nodules can be felt on the outside of the neck. Most of the time, cause no symptoms and don’t affect the amount of thyroid hormone. Most nodules are not cancer. But sometimes a nodule may be cancer.

What is a goiter?

A goiter is the enlargement of the thyroid gland. When the gland enlarges, you may see or feel a swelling on your neck. A goiter can develop in someone with a normal thyroid, overactive thyroid, or underactive thyroid.

Online Medical Reviewer: Freeborn, Donna, PhD, CNM, FNP
Online Medical Reviewer: Hurd, Robert, MD
Date Last Reviewed: 11/1/2016
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