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Thyroid Symptoms...Am I at Risk?

What are Common Disorders and Symptoms of Thyroid Dysfunction and What Puts Me at Risk?

Some quick thyroid facts...

Did you know that…

  • An estimated 20 million Americans live with thyroid disease.

  • Approximately 60 percent of those affected ignore their condition.

  • Women are five to eight times more likely to develop thyroid problems.

  • Undiagnosed thyroid disease increases the probability of heart problems, osteoporosis, and infertility.

  • Miscarriage, preterm delivery, and developmental problems are only a few of the consequences of undiagnosed or mistreated thyroid disease during pregnancy.

As discussed in part one of this series, the thyroid gland is one of the most influential organs in the body because of its impact on many of our bodily functions and helping the body to run smoothly.

Unfortunately, undiagnosed and mistreated, symptoms can lead to temporary conditions in which the thyroid becomes inflamed or can be as severe as self-destruction of the gland.

Common Thyroid Disorders

Although thyroid disorders can have numerous causes, one of the most common cause is from autoimmune thyroid disease. Autoimmune thyroid disease is a process in which an individual’s immune system attacks the thyroid cells, acting as if the cells are foreign invaders. The thyroid gland then responds by over producing (hyperthyroidism) or under producing (hypothyroidism) hormones.

Common hyperthyroid disorders include:

  • Grave’s disease: Grave’s disease is an over-overproduction of the thyroid hormone. Two of the most common characteristics of Grave’s are bulging eyes and goiter (enlargement of the thyroid gland). Grave’s is considered an autoimmune disorder and can be brought on by genetics.

  • Toxic adenomas: Toxic adenoma is when one thyroid nodule discharges excess thyroid hormones (causing enlargement of the gland) and resulting in disturbance of the body's chemical balance.

  • Subacute thyroiditis: Subacute thyroiditis is inflammation of the gland and thought to be caused by a viral infection resulting in a leak of excess hormone, leading to temporary hyperthyroidism that can last anywhere from a few weeks to several months.

Common hypothyroid disorders include:

  • Hashimoto’s thyroiditis: Hashimoto’s is an autoimmune disorder in which the body attacks the thyroid gland, killing off the tissue, and stopping production of thyroid hormone.

  • Congenital hypothyroidism: In congenital hypothyroidism, the thyroid gland does not develop properly at birth, initiating childhood hypothyroidism.

  • Postpartum thyroiditis: With postpartum thyroiditis (inflammation of the thyroid gland), the gland produces an excess of hormones for a few months and later followed by an underproduction of hormone, leading to hypothyroidism for up to a year. It may be a temporary condition although it can reoccur with each birth.

Common Symptoms of Thyroid Disease

Remember, symptoms can overlap other health conditions, hence the importance of seeking the advice of a qualified health professional for proper diagnosis.

However, here are some of the most frequently reported symptoms:

  • Palpitations/fast heart rate

  • Heat intolerance

  • Anxiety

  • Insomnia

  • Breathlessness

  • Fatigue/lack of energy

  • Weight loss/gain

  • Muscle weakness

  • Joint pain

  • Infertility

  • Hair loss/early graying

  • Depression

  • Cold hands and feet

  • High or rising cholesterol

  • Diarrhea/constipation

  • No eyebrows/ thin outer eyebrows

  • Low/no libido

  • Need for afternoon naps

  • Forgetfulness/foggy thinking/lack of concentration

  • Too Heavy/light menstrual periods

  • Dry skin or snake skin

  • PMS/painful periods

  • Blood Pressure Issues

  • Varicose Veins

  • Tightness in throat/sore throat

  • Acne

  • Swelling/edema/puffiness

Lengthy list right? And that is only a few of the most reported.

What Puts Me at Risk?

Although the exact cause of thyroid disease still remains unknown, there are numerous risk factors that can contribute to development of disease.

  • Gender: It is said that women are six to eight times more likely to develop a thyroid condition in comparison to men; contributing factors can include iodine deficiency and hormonal imbalances.

  • Age: Although, thyroid disorders can occur at any age, there is a higher increase in cases after the age of 50.Personal History: This would include previous cases of postpartum thyroiditis and previous onset of other autoimmune diseases.

  • Family History: The odds are higher in situations in which a first-degree relative has thyroid disease or autoimmune disease.

  • Thyroid Surgery: Partial or complete removal of the gland accounts for underactive hormone production resulting in hypothyroidism.

  • Pregnancy/Postpartum Period: Temporary thyroiditis increases the chances of developing thyroid disease in the future especially if the condition is undiagnosed.

  • Cigarette Smoking: Thiocyanate, a chemical in cigarettes, has a harmful effect on the gland, acting as an anti-thyroid agent, increasing the effects of symptoms and/or worsening the condition.

  • Radiation Exposure: It has been found that radiation exposure can increase the risk of autoimmune thyroid diseases and thyroid cancer.

  • Stress: Significant levels of stress are considered an environmental risk factor for thyroid disease.

So, we have discussed thyroid disorders, some of the most common symptoms, and factors that put you at risk for developing a thyroid problem. What now?

In part three, you will see that there is a light at the end of the tunnel and that you can live with a thyroid condition and enjoy your life!


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