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How to Recognize Thyroid Issues

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The thyroid gland is a gland located in the lower part of the neck, below the Adam’s apple. It produces the hormones that are needed by the body to help regulate the heartbeat, temperature, blood pressure and metabolism. Children also need the hormones produced by the thyroid to grow and develop. 

Unfortunately, it is not uncommon to have issues stemming from the thyroid – an estimated 20 million Americans are thought to experience some form of a thyroid issue. Women are much more likely to have these than men, with around one in eight women affected.

There are many forms of thyroid issues, and each one has its own signs and symptoms. It is important to look out for the different signs so that if you begin to experience any of them, you can get in touch with an ear, nose and throat specialist who can advise you on the best course of action. In many cases, thyroid issues cannot be entirely cured but they can be managed easily. 

Here, we look at some of the most common ones, although it is important to keep a note of any changes that are not usual and go to your doctor or qualified ear, nose and throat specialist, even if they are not listed below.

Hypothyroidism 

This condition is when the body is lacking the thyroid hormone that it should be producing. This can be caused by a missing gland from the body or a gland that is not working properly.

The most common cause of hypothyroidism in the US is Hashimoto's Disease. This is where the immune system mistakenly attacks the thyroid, preventing it from releasing enough hormones. Some of the signs and symptoms to look out for include:

  • Feeling the cold very easily
  • Weakness and/or pain in the muscles or joints
  • Constipation
  • Unexplained weight gain
  • Sadness
  • Excessive tiredness
  • Pale and dry skin
  • Dry and thinning hair
  • Puffy face
  • Heavier than normal periods

Hyperthyroidism 

This is the opposite issue to hypothyroidism and includes Graves’ Disease. With this condition, the body produces too much of the thyroid hormone, which can have some negative effects on the body. Some of the signs and symptoms to look out for include:

  • Hungrier than normal but still experiencing a weight loss
  • Feelings of nervousness, anxiety and irritability
  • Trouble with sleeping
  • Trembling hands and fingers
  • Excess sweating
  • Feeling hot 
  • Weakness in the muscles
  • Diarrhea or more bowel movements than is normal for you
  • Lighter than normal periods
  • Redness, irritation or bulging of the eyes

Thyroiditis  

Thyroiditis is the inflammation of the thyroid. This can be caused by infections such as those involving the sinuses. Hyperthyroidism can lead to thyroiditis. It can also be caused by autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and type one diabetes. It can also be in your genetics, so if immediate family members have it, you are more at risk. There is also postnatal thyroiditis, which starts to become apparent around four months after giving birth and often resolves itself.  

The things to look for vary, depending on whether the thyroiditis causes low levels of hormone or high. Low levels will have similar symptoms to hypothyroidism where high levels will look very similar to hyperthyroidism. 

Thyroid nodules

Lumps on or in the thyroid can grow if left untreated, which can make it increasingly difficult to swallow and breathe. It is the condition that is the most obvious to see and if you see it, you need to get checked by your ear, nose and throat doctor as soon as possible. In most cases, the nodules are completely harmless but in a small percentage of cases, they can be cancerous. 

Some of the signs and symptoms to look out for include:

  • It can be felt in your throat
  • It can be seen, as a swelling at the base of your throat
  • It feels like your windpipe or esophagus is being pressed on
  • Causes shortness of breath
  • Difficulty in swallowing

What to do if you suspect you have an issue with your thyroid

If you have any of the signs and symptoms that we have listed above, or you suspect that there may be an issue with your thyroid, get in touch with us today. Call ENT Specialists at 402-397-0670. We will be happy to talk to you about your symptoms and investigate. Don't worry in silence – we are experts in the field and can help.