Many patients for a long time do not notice symptoms indicating a dysfunction of the thyroid gland. Thus, the sharp fluctuations in body weight – its increase or loss, many are associated with pathologies of the stomach or intestines, as well as persistent constipation or frequent diarrhea.Problems with sleep and concentration, trying to explain the constant weakness by stress from work and lack of sleep. In the meantime, many patients, especially if they are middle-aged women, often have a subclinical hyper- or hypothyroidism. Let us discuss several typical manifestations of the dysfunction of this important gland.
Thyroid gland: where to look for it?
The thyroid gland is an endocrine organ located in the neck, on its front side. It regulates your heartbeat, calorie burning rate and other metabolic functions. Thyroid hormone receptors are present in almost all organs. That is why, when the thyroid gland works abnormally, problems arise in the work of the heart, muscle tone is disturbed, the skeleton suffers, fertility suffers, many other serious health problems are revealed that need to be treated immediately.
In Russia, several million patients suffer from this or that form of thyroid pathology. Autoimmune disorders, such as Hashimoto ‘s thyroiditis and Graves disease , are common causes:
- hypothyroidism (when the thyroid gland produces too little thyroid hormones)
- hyperthyroidism (when the gland produces too much hormone).
Hyper – or hypothyroidism: who suffers most?
It is noticed that women are several times more likely than men to have problems with the thyroid gland. According to experts, 1 in 8 women experience at least subclinical hyper – or hypothyroidism throughout their lives . Endocrinologists say that the identification of thyroid disorders, especially hypothyroidism, is especially important in pregnant women who are at higher risk of miscarriage, premature birth and developmental problems in children if they are not treated.
Thyroid problems may be hereditary. The more relatives (especially women) have problems with the thyroid gland in the family, the greater the risk of gland dysfunction in the patient. What are the symptoms worth paying attention in the first place?
Body mass fluctuations
In hypothyroidism, metabolism slows down, which can lead to rapid weight gain. In hyperthyroidism, the body can use too much energy due to the acceleration of metabolic processes, as a result, even with good appetite, the body weight is progressively reduced. More often body mass fluctuates both downward and upward, as people with hypothyroidism do not always feel like eating, while people with hyperthyroidism often have an increased appetite and may excessively compensate for the loss of calories and weight. Some patients note that they are hungry all the time, so they eat a lot, which provokes problems not only with body weight, but also with the work of the intestines.
Many patients note that once they would have run five kilometers without problems, but now they cannot walk to work, they often have to catch their breath due to shortness of breath and muscle weakness associated with impaired glandular activity. Although fatigue and muscle weakness tend to be associated with hypothyroidism, they can also be symptoms of hyperthyroidism. People with hyperthyroidism can also perspire heavily and do not tolerate heat very much, feeling sharp weakness and indisposition. Patients with hypothyroidism often feel cold and constantly freeze, even in summer they sleep under a warm blanket. They always have cold feet and hands, pale skin, they are apathetic and sluggish.
Stool problems: constipation or diarrhea
Just as hypothyroidism slows down the metabolism, it inhibits the work of the gastrointestinal tract, which provokes constipation. In hyperthyroidism, the opposite situation often occurs: patients can empty the intestines too often. But, like many other symptoms of thyroid dysfunction, constipation is often considered a nutritional problem or a symptom of other pathologies. Despite the fact that thyroid may be the cause of weight changes, problems with the gastrointestinal tract and constipation, fatigue and depression, most people do not associate these manifestations with each other and do not rush to the endocrinologist.
Changes in appearance, hearing problems
People with Graves disease may have swollen eyelids and bulging eyeballs (exophthalmos). There is a theory that exophthalmos can be attributed to the fact that immune cells target the eye muscles in the same way that they attack the thyroid gland. Patients with Graves’ disease may also experience redness, irritation, tearing, and double vision. In some people with hypothyroidism, hearing can decrease, until its complete loss.
Often, patients notice a thickening of the neck, visible to the eye. The part has a mild increase in the gland, it can be determined by taking a sip of water, looking in the mirror. If the area of the middle of the neck seems to be convex while drinking, it is worth visiting a doctor or an ultrasound of the gland.
Hoarse voice and difficulty swallowing are also alarming symptoms indicating organ problems.
Problems of mood and communication
Often, patients with hyperthyroidism may not notice that they have become more irritable or emotional than usual, but their spouses or family members often report this. They may also feel more aggressive or nervous. Depression is also not uncommon in people with excessive and insufficient thyroid activity. However, mood changes can sometimes be misinterpreted or not taken into account, while the thyroid gland is not treated.
The more signs and symptoms described above are detected in one patient, the more likely it is that the thyroid is the culprit . Even if there are one or two symptoms, you should ask your doctor to prescribe a blood test for the TSH level, which measures how much thyroid hormone the gland produces. If your thyroid is over active or inactive, it can be treated with medication or surgically.