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Thyroid Disease Symptoms

Thyroid DiagramThyroid disease is known to affect millions of people throughout the world, predominantly women. Thyroid gland is a butterfly-shaped, endocrine gland that is located below the lower throat in front of the neck. A healthy thyroid gland normally produces hormones called as triiodothyronine, (T3) and thyroxine T4. The main function of these hormones is to regulate the body metabolism and maintain calcium homeostasis. The most common type of thyroid diseases that affect people of all age groups include hyperthyroidism due to an over-activity of the thyroid, and hypothyroidism, caused by an under-activity of the thyroid. Here is a brief discussion about different types and symptoms of thyroid disorders.

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Hyperthyroidism

  • Hyperthyroidism occurs due to an increase in the activity of thyroid gland, resulting in over production of thyroid hormones.
  • The most common cause of hyperthyroidism is Graves’ disease, an autoimmune condition that is triggered by several factors such as excessive intake of iodide, pregnancy, lithium intake, steroid withdrawal, infections, and extreme stress.
  • Apart from Graves’ disease, other causes of hyperthyroidism or thyrotoxicosis include toxic multinodular goiter, Plummer’s Disease, hyperthyroid phase of Hashimoto’s disease,DeQuervain’s or subacute thyroiditis, and rare tumors.
  • The most significant feature of Graves’ hyperthyroidism is Graves’ ophthalmopathy, (eye condition) called as exopthalmos, which presents with typical symptoms retraction of the upper eyelid, bulging of the eyes, visual impairment,  mild eyelid lag, resulting in a characteristic stare or gaze of the eye.
  • Increased rate of metabolism can occur from all types of hyperthyroidism.
  • Some of the symptoms of central nervous system include anxiety,easy fatigue,nervousness, weight loss without suppression of appetite,skin sensitivity and profuse sweating.
  • Symptoms involving cardiovascular system include irregular heartbeats(slow atrial fibrillations),exertion,shortness of breath and increased heart rate (tachycardia) that commonly gets worse in cases over 60 years of age.
  • GI manifestations include increased bowel movement,nausea, diarrhea, weakness and muscle wasting through out the bodyhypothyroid solution due to increased metabolic rate associated with muscle breakdown.
  • Skin manifestations caused by thyroid dermopathy include skin thickness between the fingers and legs, separation of fingernails from their nail beds (onycholysis).
  • Osteoporosis can affect bones, resulting in swelling of metacarpal bones of the hands and fractures.
  • The most life threatening condition of hyperthyroid symptoms is thyrotoxicstorm, or thyroid crisis, a hyper-metabolic condition associated with rapid heart beat,extreme agitation, irregular heart rhythm (arrhythmia) or atrial fibrillation, nausea, jaundice,vomiting, shock, diarrhea,heart failure, delirium and coma.
  • Thyroid storm is a complication that usually occurs after surgery,trauma, uncontrolled diabetics,drug reaction,acute infection, and myocardial infarction.

Hypothyroidism

  • Hypothyroidism occurs due to an underactive thyroid that produces insufficient T4 and T3 hormones.
  • It is called as myxedema in adults and cretinism in children.
  • This condition is commonly caused by Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, an autoimmune condition where the body’s defense system begins to attack its own tissues.
  • Hypothyroid symptoms can also be triggered by certain treatments as those received for Graves’ disease, high iodide intake, or conditions secondary to other disorders affecting the hypothalamus pituitary or glands.
  • The condition is associated with rapid reduction in body metabolism, impaired muscle function,weight gain, muscle cramps,cold skin or increased skin sensitivity to colds, puffy face, rough or dry skin,husky voice, hoarseness, and slow reflexes.
  • Manifestations of the Central Nervous System include lethargy, chronic fatigue, decreased sweating,weakness,diminished sensation and reduced concentration.
  • Women can present with altered menstrual cycle, excessive or heavy menstrual flow,infertility may result as the estrogen production in the body will be affected; thus, altering the hormones at brain level that regulate ovulation and menstrual periods.
  • Slow heartbeat(Bradycardia), slow shallow breathing can occur.
  • GI manifestations include reduced function of smooth muscle in the intestines,sluggish intestine, impaired hemoglobin synthesis,impaired absorption of vitamins and minerals resulting in pernicious anemia, and constipation.
  • Frequent urination can reduce the rate of kidney filtration, resulting in fatal water retention.
  • Adolescents can develop early (precocious)puberty, whereas cretinism affected infants present with retarded growth and development.

Postpartum Thyroiditis

  • Postpartum thyroiditis is a pregnancy complication associated with inflammation of the thyroid gland after childbirth.
  • The main cause is unknown, but the condition can cause hypo- or hyperthyroidism.
  • Symptoms of hyperthyroidism include increased anxiety, muscle weakness, weight loss,rapid heart rate, and increased sensitivity to heat.
  • Hypothyroidism related symptoms include tiredness, constipation, cold intolerance, weakness,muscle cramping, and weight gain.

Goiter

  • Goiter occurs due to the increased levels of TSH due to the diminished response of thyroid to normal levels of TSH or under functioning thyroid.
  • Many goiters are non-toxic; however, toxic multi nodular goiters can present with significant hyperthyroid symptoms.
  • Goiters can occur due to goitrogens in the diet, iodine or, iodide deficiency.
  • Goiter is most commonly caused by Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, while other causes include tumors, thyroid hormone resistance and subacute thyroiditis.

Goiter symptoms indicate an underlying cause;however, it has no symptoms other than a physical sign like neck swelling caused by thyroid enlargement.

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