Symptoms of the 3 Most Common Thyroid Disorders

Jan 5 • 2016

Thyroid disorders can occur in men and women of any age. The thyroid is located at the base of the neck and is an integral part of the endocrine system. It creates the hormones that regulate how your body metabolizes food and creates energy. Depending on the level of hormones being created, issues can arise that can greatly impact your health. The three most common thyroid disorders are hyperthyroidism, hypothyroidism, and thyroid cancer.

Hyperthyroidism occurs when your thyroid produces too much of the thyroid hormone. When this happens, your body’s processes begin to speed up. This is most often caused by an autoimmune disorder called Graves’ disease, where the body creates a specific antibody that causes the thyroid to overproduce hormones. However, it can also be caused by lumps in the gland or by having too much iodine in your diet.

Symptoms of hyperthyroidism include:

  • Hand tremors
  • Muscle weakness
  • Fatigue
  • Rapid heartbeat, irregular heartbeat, or heart palpitations
  • Anxiety or feeling nervous
  • Dry skin
  • Weight loss
  • Changes in mood
  • Light menstrual cycles or skipping periods completely
  • More frequent bowel movements

Hypothyroidism occurs when your thyroid does not produce enough of the thyroid hormone. This is one of the more common disorders and is estimated to impact almost 10 million people in the United States alone. Inflammation of the thyroid gland, called Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, can result in damaged cells that leave you unable to produce the amount of hormones necessary. Another main cause of hypothyroidism is the removal of a portion or the entire gland in order to treat another issue.

Symptoms of hypothyroidism include:

  • Weakness
  • Fatigue
  • Dry skin and hair
  • Unexplained weight gain or difficulty losing weight
  • Loss of hair
  • Difficulty tolerating cold temperatures
  • Depression or irritability
  • Aching or cramping muscles
  • Loss of memory
  • Constipation
  • Decreased sex drive
  • Changes in menstrual cycle

Thyroid Cancer
Thyroid cancer is diagnosed in over 50,000 people each year, the majority of which are women. It can impact people of any age, but becomes increasingly severe in older adults. Sometimes this type of cancer can occur with no real symptoms to begin with, but the first symptom often seen is a nodule on the thyroid.

Other symptoms of thyroid cancer include:
• Pain in the neck
• Enlarged lymph nodes
• Hoarseness in the voice

If you do notice a thyroid nodule, it is important to remember that less than 1% of all nodules are cancerous. In fact, most people will have at least one within their lifetime. It is important to speak with your doctor right away if you notice a nodule on your thyroid so the appropriate steps can be taken.

January is Thyroid Awareness Month, so make sure you know the facts about the different types of thyroid disorders and how to recognize them. If you have questions or concerns about your thyroid health, speak with your doctor.