What is Thyroid?
Thyroid is a small gland found at the base of your neck, in front of your trachea (windpipe). The thyroid produces two main hormones called T3 (Triodothyronine) and T4 (Thyroxine). These hormones travel in your blood to all parts of your body. The thyroid hormones control the rate of many activities in your body. These include how fast you burn calories and how fast your heart beats. All these activities together are known as your body’s metabolism. A thyroid that is working right will produce the right amounts of hormones needed to keep your body’s metabolism working at a rate that is not too fast or too slow. The thyroid hormone is controlled by pituitary gland. The pituitary gland makes the thyroid stimulating hormones (TSH) which stimulate T3, T4 production. Pituitary gland in turn is controlled by hyperthyroidism in the brain.
Diseases of the thyroid gland can result in either production of too much (overactive thyroid disease or Hyperthyroidism), or too little (underactive thyroid disease or Hypothyroidism). Thyroid problems are much more common in women than in men.
What is Hypothyroidism and what are its causes?
Hypothyroidism occurs when the thyroid glands does not make enough thyroid hormones to maintain the body metabolism. The most common cause of hypothyroidism is a disorder known as thyroiditis an inflammation of the thyroid gland. The most common type of thyroiditis is called Hashimoto disease. In this disease, the immune system in the body mistakes cells in the thyroid for harmful invaders. The body sends out white blood cells to destroy the thyroid gland. The pituitary gland then releases TSH to tell the thyroid gland to make more thyroid hormone. This demand on the thyroid gland can cause it to enlarge. This enlargement is called goiter. Hypothyroidism also can result from a diet that does not have enough iodine.
Symptoms of Hypothyroidism
Symptoms of hypothyroidism tend to develop slowly, often over several years. At first, one may just feel tired and sluggish. Later, it may develop other symptoms of a slowed down metabolism, including:
1.) Weight gain
2.) Fatigue (feeling very tired)
3.) Increased sensitivity to cold
4.) Pale dry skin
6.) Puffiness around the eyes
7.) Muscle weakness
8.) Excessive menstrual bleeding
9.) Joint or muscle pain
10.) Brittle nails
12.) Hair loss
In addition to these symptoms, people with hypothyroidism may have high blood levels of LDL cholesterol which can increase your risk for heart disease.
Hyperthyroidism and its causes
Some disorders cause the thyroid to make more thyroid hormones than the body needs. This is called hyperthyroidism or overactive thyroid. The most common cause of hyperthyroidism is Graves’ disease. Graves’ disease is an autoimmune disorder, in which the body’s own defense system, called the immune system, stimulates the thyroid. This causes it to make too much of the thyroid hormones. Hyperthyroidism can also be caused by thyroid nodules that prompt excess thyroid hormones to be made.
Symptoms of Hyperthyroidism
At first, you might not notice symptoms of hyperthyroidism. They usually begin slowly. But over time, a speeded-up metabolism can cause symptoms such as:
1.) Weight loss
4.) Rapid or irregular heartbeat
7.) Increased sweating
9.) Increased sensitivity to heat
10.) Muscle weakness
11.) More frequent bowel movements
12.) Less frequent menstrual periods with lighter than normal menstrual flow
In addition to these symptoms, people with hyperthyroidism may have osteoporosis, or weak, brittle bones. In fact, hyperthyroidism might affect your bones before you have any of the other symptoms of the disorder. This is especially true of postmenopausal women, who are already at high risk of osteoporosis.