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The thyroid gland is one of the more important components in the human body, influencing nearly all metabolic processes. Thyroid problems can create issues as benign as a harmless enlarged gland to life-threatening cancer.
The most common thyroid problems relate to the abnormal production of thyroid hormones. When too much thyroid hormone is created, this can result in a condition known as hyperthyroidism. When too little is produced, this leads to hypothyroidism. The effects of both conditions can impact your lifestyle, but they can be managed with medications if properly diagnosed and treated.
While you should consult an endocrinologist in Michigan if you are experiencing any symptoms or problems that may be linked to thyroid abnormalities, here are some facts about thyroid problems you should know.
How The Thyroid Serves The Body
The thyroid, a butterfly-shaped gland at the bottom of the neck, is responsible for the creation of two major hormones that affect how your body works. These hormones are known as thyroxine (T-4) and triiodothyronine (T-3). Thyroxine helps regulate the body’s growth and energy, while triiodothyronine impacts the body’s metabolic rate, heart and digestive functions, muscle control, brain growth and performance, and bone maintenance. Another important hormone the thyroid makes, parathyroid hormone, helps maintain a healthy amount of calcium in the blood.
The thyroid controls the heart rate, calorie burning, metabolism, and other functions in the body. When thyroid problems occur, they can impact your body in big and small ways.
What Is Hyperthyroidism?
Hyperthyroidism, also known as overactive thyroid, is due to an overproduction of thyroid hormones. It can accelerate the body’s metabolism and cause unpleasant symptoms, including:
- Nervousness, anxiety, or crankiness
- Mood swings
- Fatigue or weakness
- Heat sensitivity
- Unexpected and sudden weight loss
- Heart palpitations
- Increased bowel movements
- Tremors in hands, fingers
- Sleep difficulty
- Thinning skin
- Brittle hair
- Menstrual cycle changes
Hyperthyroidism can occur in different ways, such as the production of too much thyroid hormone, known as Graves’ disease, or nodules known as goiters that form in the thyroid gland and make hormones that upset the body’s chemical balance. Another cause of hyperthyroidism is subacute thyroiditis, or inflammation of the thyroid that results in the loss of excess hormones. Pituitary gland problems or cancerous growths in the thyroid gland can cause hyperthyroidism, although it’s rare.
What Is Hypothyroidism?
Hypothyroidism, also known as underactive thyroid disease, is when the thyroid gland does not produce enough thyroid hormone. Without the right amount of thyroid hormone, the body’s processes slow down, leaving those suffering from the condition with less energy and a sluggish metabolism becomes.
Symptoms of hypothyroidism are similar to hyperthyroidism, but also include:
- Elevated cholesterol
- Cold sensitivity
- Joint pain, stiffness, swelling
- Memory loss
- Slow heart rate
A lack of thyroid hormones at an early age can lead to intellectual disability and dwarfism (stunted growth). That’s why it’s important to have your thyroid checked regularly.