When the thyroid gland gets affected, the entire body goes for a toss. However, how the gland malfunctions can cause different changes in your body.
Your thyroid gland is one of the most important glands in your body. Located in the front of the neck and below the voice box, it plays a significant role in regulating the body's metabolism, according to John Hopkins Medicine. The hormones produced by the gland enter tissues which then regulates how those tissues produce or do not produce certain proteins. Additionally, it is responsible for the smooth functioning of the brain and nerve development as well as the skin, hair, eyes, heart, and intestine. For women, it can even affect your menstrual cycle.
However, when the thyroid gland isn't working the way it should, it can lead to two common kinds of conditions — hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism. And the following are the differences between the two:
This condition occurs when there is too little of the thyroid hormone produced. As a result, your metabolism slows down in this disease causing other functions of the body to slow down as well. As stated by Cleveland Clinic and Medical News Today, in this condition, the symptoms noticed include:
- Frequent, heavy menstrual periods
- Weight gain
- Dry, coarse skin and hair
- Hoarse voice
- Intolerance to cold
- Puffy hands and feet
- Loss of libido
- Recurrent urinary and respiratory tract infections
- Pins and needles
According to Piedmont Healthcare, this condition can be caused by some of the following:
- Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, an autoimmune disorder
- Low-iodine diet
- Radiation exposure from cancer treatment
- Certain medications used to treat cancer, heart problems and psychiatric conditions
- Surgical removal of the thyroid
The risk factors for hypothyroidism increase for those people who have a history of autoimmune disease, previous radiation treatment to the head or neck, a goiter, a family history of thyroid problems or use medications known to affect thyroid function. In that case, if you fall under any of these categories, you might be able to catch the condition earlier on. It can help with prevention before the disease progresses any further.
This condition occurs when there is too much of the thyroid hormone produced in which case, these symptoms are noticed:
- Muscle weakness/tremors
- Infrequent, scant menstrual periods
- Weight loss
- Sleep disturbances
- Enlarged thyroid gland
- Vision problems or eye irritation
- Heat sensitivity
Piedmont Healthcare states that the following could be the causes of hyperthyroidism:
- Graves' disease - This condition is characterized by your immune system attacking the thyroid and causing it to make more thyroid hormone than your body needs, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.
- Swollen thyroid
- Thyroid nodules
The risk factors for this disease include those who have a family history, especially of Graves' disease, are women, or have a personal history of certain chronic illnesses, such as type 1 diabetes, pernicious anemia, and primary adrenal insufficiency, states Mayo Clinic.
1. Approximately 20 million Americans have some form of thyroid disease, according to the American Thyroid Association.
2. Women are five to eight times more likely to have one of the conditions than men
3. Pregnant women with hyperthyroidism whose condition is misdiagnosed or untreated run the risk of miscarriage, preterm delivery, and severe developmental problems in their children.
4. Most thyroid diseases are life-long conditions that can be taken care of with medical attention.
It is important to visit your doctor if you see these symptoms or fall under the risk factors for these two conditions.