The thyroid gland (located in the front of the neck) is very important to metabolic processes in your body, but if it produces too much or too little of a hormone (called T4), it can throw off the entire balance of your system.
Thyroid problems are fairly common and range in type and severity, but it’s important to have a doctor properly diagnose your thyroid condition rather than assuming you have a thyroid disorder. Here are six common thyroid disorders that can lead to changes in your weight, energy levels, mood, and more…
MedicineNet.com explains this condition is when your thyroid gland doesn’t produce enough hormones. There are a host of symptoms that come with hypothyroidism: fatigue, dry skin, constipation, and poor concentration just to name a few.
Under the hypothyroidism category is something called Hashimoto’s thyroiditis (also known as Hashimoto’s disease), which the source says is an autoimmune disorder that causes inflammation of the thyroid gland. In this condition, a patient’s immune system is actually attacking the thyroid, causing it to under produce.
This is essentially the opposite of hypothyroidism, and it presents different symptoms. A hyper or overactive thyroid can “accelerate your body’s metabolism significantly,” which can lead to sudden and unexplained weight loss, notes the Mayo Clinic.
Other symptoms can occur if your thyroid is putting your bodily functions into overdrive. These include an increased (resting) heartbeat, sweating, or feeling nervous or irritable, notes the source. You may also have trouble sleeping (insomnia), or notice thinning skin or brittle hair, it adds.
3. Graves’ Disease
This actually falls under the hyperthyroidism category, but since it’s the leading cause of hyperthyroidism according to WebMD, we’ll take a closer look at the condition on its own.
In Graves’ disease, your body releases “abnormal antibodies” that mimic a thyroid-stimulating hormone called TSH that’s normally produced in the brain’s pituitary gland, explains the source. These “fake” TSH hormones kick the thyroid gland into overdrive. The good news is that the condition is fairly easy to correct once it’s properly diagnosed, but left unchecked it can cause complications and even death, warns WebMD.
Goiters are a visible problem with the thyroid gland, and are described as “generalized swelling or bulging in the thyroid gland” by EndocrineWeb.com. They can appear whether you have an overactive or underactive thyroid, according to the source.
In some other cases, you may not have any problems with hormone levels or have any related symptoms and still end up with a swollen thyroid, it adds. Other sources point out it could be from lack of iodine in your diet (which is essential for thyroid hormone production), and goiters can even be caused by a pregnancy hormone called HCG.
5. Thyroid Nodules
These can lead to enlarged thyroids but are generally more localized (such as a single lump), notes the American Thyroid Association. These lumps are sometimes not obvious, and are discovered during routine medical exams, adds the source.
Nodules can lead to hyperthyroidism, but most are “non-functioning” and don’t present any symptoms at all – even if the nodule turns out to be cancerous, adds the source. However, a nodule may grow and interfere with the throat, which can make breathing and swallowing more difficult, it adds. Have your doctor examine you if you locate a suspicious lump in your neck area.
6. Thyroid Cancer
As mentioned before, some nodules could turn out to be cancerous (they could be painful in this case) – and MedicineNet.com points out that thyroid cancer is far more common among women than men, and that about 66-percent of cases occur in adults under the age of 55.
There are different forms of thyroid cancer, classified by “the specific cell type within the thyroid that has become cancerous,” explains the source. The good news for thyroid cancer patients is it typically has a high survival rate, but like other forms of cancer, early diagnosis is key.