Identifying common symptoms of Thyroid disorders
It is important to identify the symptoms of Thyroid disorders in order to lead an active and joyous life as thyroid is an important gland in our body as it has a major impact on our metabolic processes. If symptoms of thyroid are ignored and left undetected, then they may have an impact on your day-to-day life as well as mental and emotional well-being.
Thyroid is located at the base of the neck, below Adam’s apple and around the windpipe (trachea). Thyroid is divided into two halves known and it resembles the shape of a butterfly. The right lobe and the left lobe of the thyroid gland are connected by a tissue called the isthmus.
Functions of Thyroid gland
The thyroid gland produces two important hormones – T3 (tri-iodo-thyronine) and T4 (thyroxine). The most important job of the Thyroid hormones is to control the production of energy in our bodies by combining oxygen with glucose (oxygen burns glucose to provide fuel/energy). Other important functions of these hormones are their contribution in development of the brain and the skin, maintenance of blood pressure, and the proper growth of the reproductive system.
When there is a variation in the functioning of thyroid gland due to one or the other reason or even naturally then these symptoms of thyroid start appearing in both males and females.
What is metabolism?
All the chemical processes occurring within your body wholly constitute as your metabolism. This includes respiration, the respiration in the bodily cells, and internal respiration. A fluctuation in the rates of these processes could indicate symptoms of thyroid issues.
People with a high metabolic rate burn energy fast, have a higher heart rate, and usually do not experience rapid weight gain. On the other hand, slow metabolism means a lower heart rate, and slower bodily functions. Therefore, having unusually fast or slow metabolisms may be symptoms of thyroid disorders.
How are symptoms of thyroid related to metabolism?
Thyroid hormones control metabolic processes like heart rate, conversion of food into energy, absorption of nutrients etc. Therefore, a shift in these body functions may indicate symptoms of thyroid related issues. It is important to consult a doctor regarding the same for a timely diagnosis and treatment.
Thyroid issues metabolism problem related issues
What are the symptoms of Thyroid
To understand the symptoms of thyroid, one must first understand how the thyroid gland works.
When the level of thyroid hormone is low, the hypothalamus located in the brain secretes a hormone (TRH) that makes the pituitary gland (also located in the head) secrete another hormone (TSH). This TSH causes thyroid to secrete thyroid hormones. Therefore, symptoms of thyroid disorders can appear when there is an issue with any of these three glands – hypothalamus, pituitary, or thyroid itself.
Types of thyroid Disorders
Although the symptoms of thyroid disorders appear due to fluctuations in the levels of thyroid hormones, the symptoms may vary. This is because they symptoms of thyroid hormone over-secretion are different from the symptoms of thyroid hormone under-secretion.
The various types of thyroid disorders that can happen are:-
When there is an overactive thyroid gland, there is excess secretion of the thyroid hormone. This leads to symptoms of hyperthyroidism.
When the thyroid gland is underactive, there is a reduced secretion of the thyroid hormone than normal. This leads to symptoms of hypothyroidism in patients.
When the cells of the thyroid gland overgrow abnormally and form lumps, the lumps are known as nodules. Thyroid nodules are common, especially in the elderly, and are generally not considered fatally harmful. Most Thyroid nodules do not form cancers and the patient usually does not exhibit the usual symptoms of thyroid cancer or other disorders.
In some cases, thyroid nodules can become cancerous. Thyroid nodules can also grow excessively in size and press against the nearby organs. This may causing a difficulty in breathing or swallowing by pressing against the windpipe or the food-pipe respectively.
Some thyroid nodules also become large enough to function independently and start secreting excess thyroid hormones, which may lead to symptoms of hyperthyroidism in some cases.
Thyroid cancer is a rare disorder and the symptoms of thyroid cancer are also not distinguishable. However, if it occurs, it can occur for various reasons depending upon which tissue of the thyroid has turned cancerous. Sometimes, the nodules grow more than 3 cm in size and can also be non-functioning causing a malignant tumor-like growth.
The prognosis of Thyroid cancer is usually good and the success rate of Thyroid cancer treatment is quite high. It is important to pay attention to the symptoms of thyroid cancer in time and get the right treatment started in time. The symptoms of Thyroid cancer are summarized in the section below.
A goiter is not a disease in itself. Goiter is the name given to enlargement of the thyroid gland, which can occur due to various reasons. This enlargement of the thyroid gland at the base of the neck could be one of the symptoms of hyperthyroidism or one of the symptoms of hypothyroidism.
As such, there are no specific symptoms of goiter except a noticeable enlargement in the neck. However, if the goiter is accompanied with symptoms of thyroid disorders, could either be symptoms of hyperthyroidism or one of the symptoms of hypothyroidism
Common Symptoms of Thyroid Issues
Symptoms of Thyroid disorders may appear in two different ways. This is because the symptoms of hyperthyroidism are different from the symptoms of hypothyroidism in that their manifestation is almost opposing to each other.
Symptoms of Thyroid in Hypothyroidism: dryness of hair and skin, forgetfulness, hair loss, muscle cramps and joint pain, unexplained weight gain, weakness, lower heart rate, and increased menstrual blood flow in women.
Symptoms of Thyroid in Hyperthyroidism: increased heart rate, increased body temperature and sweating, tremors, unexplained weight loss, double vision and protruding eyes, loss of sleep, sensitivity to light, and interrupted menstrual cycle in women.
Symptoms of Thyroid Cancer
Thyroid cancer is a rare kind of cancer. Abnormal cell growths commonly happen in the thyroid gland and are known as thyroid nodules. However, most thyroid nodules are benign (not causing cancer), and are usually dormant, therefore exhibiting no noticeable symptoms of thyroid cancer.
It has been shown that at least 9 out of 10 thyroid nodules are non-cancerous. When looking for symptoms of thyroid cancer, we basically look at symptoms of thyroid nodules. Thyroid cancer is of four types: Papillary Thyroid cancer (also known as papillary thyroid carcinoma), follicular thyroid cancer, medullary thyroid cancer, and anaplastic thyroid cancer.
Most common symptoms of thyroid cancer
A pain in the neck: Pain in the neck could be because of various reasons and is least indicative of the symptoms of thyroid cancer. However, if there is an unusually strong pain that extends up to the ear, then a combined thyroid symptoms test may reveal a proper diagnosis. It is important to take other symptoms of thyroid cancer into consideration along with the pain.
Formation of a lump: If there are oversized thyroid nodules present, then you may notice a lump at the base of your neck. If it is not noticeable, then you may feel it. However, a lump alone is not conclusive of the presence of symptoms of thyroid cancer.
However, if the lump is growing very fast, then you may consider taking the right thyroid symptoms test. Generally these growths could be because of oversized nodules. The good news is, most nodules are not cancerous and the treatment is also very successful. To find out whether your lump is one of the symptoms of thyroid cancer, consult a doctor at the earliest.
Breathing problems: If you are experiencing trouble while breathing which feels like a blockage, it could be because of an overgrown thyroid nodule pressing against the trachea (windpipe). However, not all overgrown thyroid nodules are symptoms of thyroid cancer. Additional thyroid symptoms test are more conclusive.
Apart from the breathing problems, some people may also experience a roughness in their voice. However, these alone are not conclusive of symptoms of thyroid cancer.
Constant Cough: Some people may also experience a constant but unexplained cough. However, coughing and throat roughness are not definitive symptoms of thyroid cancer.
There are no distinguishable or specific symptoms of thyroid cancer. To be really sure whether you have cancer in your thyroid, you must consult a doctor. The doctor will suggest the right thyroid symptoms tests which will reveal the presence of thyroid nodules and whether they are benign (non-cancerous) or malignant (cancerous).
Symptoms of Thyroid in females
Studies reflect that the occurrence of symptoms of thyroid in females is higher as compared to males. A study conducted by the Indian Thyroid Society suggests that females are three times as likely to exhibit symptoms of thyroid as compared to males. The chances of symptoms of thyroid in females who are aged between 46 and 54 are even higher.
Even though chances of occurring of symptoms of thyroid in females are high, thousands of women are not even aware that their body has this disease.
What are the symptoms of thyroid in females that prompt towards taking thyroid symptoms test?
Symptoms of thyroid in females generally include problems in the menstruation cycle, hormonal imbalance, problems in getting pregnant, and complications during pregnancy. Since a great number of women in India are iron-deficient, it is likely that symptoms of thyroid in females that are pregnant are likely to show up.
Symptoms of thyroid in females can also be understood better by broadly looking at the symptoms of hyperthyroidism and symptoms of hypothyroidism.
Symptoms of Thyroid in females due to hyperthyroidism
The symptoms of hyperthyroidism in females involve unusual and rapid heart rate, increased body temperature and sweating, tremors, excessive weight loss, increased appetite, diarrhea, irritation and protruding of eyes, loss of sleep, sensitivity to light and heat, anxiety and nervousness, and weakness in muscles. One of the most common symptoms of over-secretion of thyroid in females is fluctuations in their menstrual flow i.e. sometimes massive, sometimes light or irregular bleeding.
Symptoms of Thyroid due to hypothyroidism in females
The symptoms of hypothyroidism in females include dryness of hair and skin, forgetfulness, hair loss, muscle cramps and joint pain, rough voice, decrease in desire for sex, unexplained weight gain, weakness and exhaustion, lower heart rate, recurring bowel movements, anxiety and depression and increased menstrual blood flow.
Both, symptoms of hyperthyroidism and symptoms of hypothyroidism show up slowly and gradually. The symptoms of thyroid in females can sometimes take years to be visible. Therefore, women, especially the ones who are genetically more susceptible to having thyroid disorders, must consider taking the thyroid symptoms test as early and as frequently as possible.
Symptoms of Thyroid Nodules
Usually, thyroid nodules are small in size and are not easily detected. Therefore, the symptoms of thyroid nodules are also rare. However, sometimes,
Although there are no peculiar symptoms of thyroid nodules, but if the cells are active, it can lead to secretion of thyroid hormone and hence produce symptoms of hyperthyroidism. Some symptoms of hyperthyroidism as explain above are increased heart rate, increased body temperature and sweating, tremors, unexplained weight loss, double vision and protruding eyes, loss of sleep, sensitivity to light, and interrupted menstrual cycle in women.
In some cases, if the nodules grow bigger in size, they can appear as lump in your neck or can be felt. This might cause pain which can extend to your ear and you may also have trouble in breathing and swallowing. Generally Computed tomography (CT scan) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) are used to detect for signs and symptoms of thyroid nodules.
Symptoms of Thyroid Storm
Thyroid Storm is a life-threatening situation caused due to lack of treatment of ‘hyperthyroidism’ and can cause fluctuation in heart rate, fever, heart failure and death. It’s a more aggressive and aggravated version ‘hyperthyroidism’. Symptoms of thyroid storm are similar to the symptoms of hyperthyroidism, only more severe and sudden.
Some of the symptoms of thyroid storm are extreme irritation and anxiety, breathlessness, irregular heartbeats and heart failure, nausea and yellowing of skin and eyes, increased blood pressure, vomiting and diarrhea, restlessness and sweating. Thyroid storm needs immediate medical attention and chances of survival are high when treated early, so look out for symptoms of thyroid storm by considering severe symptoms of hyperthyroidism.
Symptoms of Hypothyroidism
Hypothyroidism is a condition where there is lesser secretion of the thyroid hormone than necessary for normal functioning of the body. Since the thyroid hormone is responsible for our metabolic processes, a shortage of this hormone leads to an imbalance in the normal metabolism of the patient.
Symptoms of hypothyroidism are characterized by a slow metabolism. Therefore, the symptoms of hypothyroidism are:-
Slower heart rate,
Difficulty converting the food and fat present in the body into energy for activities,
Sensitivity to cold
Depression and impaired memory
Loss or thinning of hair
Symptoms of thyroid in females include increased bleeding during the menstrual cycle, constipation, lower sex drive, pain in the joints and overall lethargy. A proper consultation with the doctor followed by some thyroid symptoms test will reveal a clearer picture of the disease.
Symptoms of Hyperthyroidism
Some symptoms of hyperthyroidism differ from the symptoms of hypothyroidism. This is because hyperthyroidism means increased secretion of the thyroid hormone, leading to a higher metabolic rate.
Some of the symptoms of hyperthyroidism are:-
An increased or decreased appetite,
Increase in sweating
High heart rate and palpitations
Resistance towards heat
Tremors and shaking of hands
Symptoms of thyroid in females include a decreased blood flow, thinning of hair, weakness in muscles, unexplained weight loss. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, you must visit a doctor and get the right thyroid symptoms test done in time.
Symptoms of papillary Thyroid Carcinoma
Papillary thyroid carcinoma is another name for papillary thyroid cancer. Papillary thyroid cancer is the most common of all Thyroid cancers. Almost 80% of the patients who have symptoms of thyroid cancer have papillary thyroid carcinoma.
The cure rate and the survival rate for papillary thyroid carcinoma are also really high. Symptoms of thyroid cancer may occur again after the treatment is complete. However, the chances of the patient’s survival are really high.
If the papillary thyroid carcinoma grows, it usually spreads to the lymph nodes of the neck and doesn’t go as far as the lung or bone. Symptoms of thyroid cancer are also more commonly seen in females than in males. Papillary thyroid carcinoma usually occurs because of radiation exposure.
Symptoms of Thyroid Adenoma
Thyroid adenoma is a tumor which is not cancerous. Thyroid adenomas are mostly follicular adenomas. Papillary adenomas are rarely observed. Symptoms of thyroid adenomas that have advanced are similar to the symptoms of hyperthyroidism.
Adenomas are abnormal cell growths in the thyroid gland. Cold adenomas are those thyroid adenomas that are not active. However, some thyroid adenomas start to function actively and independently and start secreting the thyroid hormone. This leads to an excess of thyroid hormone, causing the symptoms of hyperthyroidism.
Symptoms of Goiter
Goiter is simply an enlargement of the thyroid gland. Sometimes, a normally functioning thyroid can also swell up, and sometimes goiter is also accompanied with over-secretion or under-secretion of the thyroid hormone.
Symptoms of Goiter are as follows:-
- A swelling of the thyroid gland. It is usually visible at the base of the neck.
- Difficulty in swallowing as the enlarged tissue presses against the esophagus (food pipe).
- Difficulty in breathing as the enlarged thyroid presses against the trachea (wind pipe)
- Roughness in the voice
- Feeling of a blocked throat
Why do symptoms of Goiter show up?
Symptoms of Goiter can happen for multiple reasons.
Most of the cases happen because of iodine deficiency. Thyroid is the only organ in our body that takes up iodine. Therefore, when there is a deficiency of iodine, the thyroid gland tissue swells up to make more room to absorb iodine.
However, symptoms of goiter resulting from iodine deficiency are related with enlargement of the gland only. This is because this type of goiter may not be accompanied by an over or under secretion of thyroid hormone.
Other reasons why symptoms of goiters show up are hyperthyroidism, hypothyroidism, thyroid cancer, pregnancy, or inflammation of the thyroid gland.
Thyroid Symptoms Test
Thyroid symptoms test are prevalent and help in determining which disorder is causing the symptoms of thyroid. Sometimes, the symptoms of thyroid are because of the fluctuation in the functioning of the thyroid gland. Sometimes, the thyroid symptoms tests reveal that the symptoms of thyroid may be because of the fluctuations in the functioning of the hypothalamus of the pituitary gland.
Thyroid symptoms test generally include tests of T3, T3RU, T4, TRH and TSH. The TRH, TSH, T3 and T4 tests reveal whether the level of thyroid hormones in the blood are normal, deficient, or excessive. The TSH hormone test reveals thyroid disorders at an early stage.
The TRH thyroid symptoms test helps in identifying whether the symptoms of thyroid are because of abnormality of pituitary gland functioning or that of the hypothalamus.
The above mentioned thyroid symptoms test may reveal the presence or absence of a thyroid problem. However, additional tests are required to determine the cause of these issues. A doctor may suggest an ultrasound of the thyroid gland, or ask for additional blood tests for antibodies, or tests to determine radioactive substances or radiations.