- What Is
- Signs and Symptoms Hypothyroidism
- Complications Hypothyroidism
- Signs and Symptoms Hyperthyroidism
- Complications Hyperthyroidism
What are thyroid problems?
The thyroid is a small, butterfly-shaped gland located at the anterior (front) aspect of the neck. Thyroid hormones regulate metabolism, body temperature, heartbeat and the digestive system. Hypothyroidism occurs when the thyroid gland is unable to produce sufficient levels of thyroid hormones. Hyperthyroidism occurs when the thyroid gland produces excess levels of thyroid hormones. Thyroid problems can begin at any age and women are more affected than men. The clinical presentation and complications of hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism are different. They may be diagnosed after a routine blood test or after symptoms begin. There are several treatment options that are safe and effective.
What are the signs and symptoms of hypothyroidism?
Hypothyroidism signs and symptoms in adults may include the following
- Tiredness and weakness
- Increased sensitivity to cold
- Dry and itchy skin
- Weight gain
- Voice changes
- Muscle pain and stiffness
- Joint pain, stiffness, or swelling
- Heavy menstrual flow or irregular menstrual periods
- Thinning hair
- Thinning eyebrows
- Decreased heart rate
- Poor memory
- Goiter (enlarged thyroid gland)
- Yellow skin and eyes
- A large, protruding tongue
- Difficulty breathing and feeding
- Hoarse cry
- Poor muscle tone
- Excessive sleepiness
- Physical and mental retardation in untreated infants
Signs and symptoms of hypothyroidism in children and young adults include the following
Signs and symptom are similar to those in adults, but in addition, they may also present with the following
What are the complications of hypothyroidism?
If untreated, hypothyroidism can lead to various complications
- Goiter: The lack of thyroid hormone causes constant stimulation of the thyroid gland causing enlargement of the thyroid gland. This is called goiter. Goiter can cause cosmetic concerns and can affect breathing and swallowing.
- Cardiac (heart) problems: Hypothyroidism increases the risk of heart disease and causes irregular heart rate and heart failure. Hypothyroidism increases the levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, known as the “bad” cholesterol, leading to cardiovascular complications.
- Mental health issues: Depression, slow mental function, lethargy and poor memory can occur and may worsen over time.
- Peripheral neuropathy: Long-term untreated hypothyroidism can cause damage to your peripheral nerves (in the arms and legs). Patients present with pain, numbness and tingling in affected areas.
- Myxedema: This is a rare, life-threatening complication of long-term, untreated hypothyroidism. Its signs and symptoms include swelling of the face including the lips, eyelids, and tongue and swelling and thickening of the skin and underlying tissues anywhere in the body having a waxy texture. Patients also have intense cold intolerance and drowsiness followed by profound lethargy and unconsciousness.
- Infertility: Low levels of thyroid hormone can interfere with ovulation presenting with irregular periods.
- Birth defects: Babies born to women with untreated thyroid disease may have a higher risk of being born with birth defects. The children also have a risk of serious developmental problems.
- Infants: Infants with untreated hypothyroidism present at birth are at risk for serious problems with both physical and mental development.
- Pregnant women: Untreated hypothyroidism during pregnancy increases the risk of miscarriage, premature delivery preeclampsia (high blood pressure in the last trimester of pregnancy) and birth defects in the developing baby.
What are the signs and symptoms of hyperthyroidism?
Hyperthyroidism can mimic other health problems; hence, it may be misdiagnosed. The common signs and symptoms include the following
- Weight loss, despite normal appetite and diet
- Tachycardia (increased heartbeat)
- Arrhythmia (irregular heart rhythm)
- Increased appetite
- Anxiety and irritability
- Tremor (trembling) of the hands and fingers
- Menstrual cycle changes
- Increased sensitivity to heat
- Changes in bowel movements
- Goiter (an enlarged thyroid gland)
- Muscle weakness
- Difficulty sleeping
- Thinning of the skin and hair
What are the complications of hyperthyroidism?
If untreated, hyperthyroidism can lead to various complications
- Cardiac (heart) complications: Cardiac complications of hyperthyroidism can be serious and life threatening. Cardiac complications include a rapid heart rate and altered heart rhythm called atrial fibrillation that can increase the risk of stroke and heart failure.
- Brittle bones: Untreated hyperthyroidism can lead to osteoporosis (weak, brittle bones) causing the bones to fracture easily. Increased thyroid hormones impair the body's ability to incorporate calcium into the bones.
- Eye complications: Those with Graves' ophthalmopathy develop eye problems, including bulging, red or swollen eyes, photophobia (sensitivity to light), blurry vision or double vision and even loss of vision/blindness.
- Skin complications: Those with Graves' disease develop Graves' dermopathy, which is characterized by redness and swelling of the skin, usually on the shins and feet.
- Thyrotoxic crisis: Thyrotoxic crisis is a sudden intensification of symptoms, causing fever, palpitations and altered mental status. This requires emergency medical attention.
Latest Thyroid News
Daily Health News
Health Solutions From Our Sponsors
American Thyroid Association
Top What Are the Complications of Thyroid Problems Related Articles
Hashimoto's ThyroiditisHashimoto's thyroiditis or chronic lymphocytic thyroiditis, is an autoimmune disorder causing inflammation of the thyroid gland. Hashimoto's thyroiditis is a type of hypothyroidism, and is the most common cause of hypothyroidism in the US.
Symptoms of Hashimoto's thyroiditis may include dry skin, fatigue, weight gain, feeling cold, excessive sleepiness, dry skin, dry coarse hair, difficulty swallowing, a lump in the front of the throat, muscle cramps, mood changes, vague aches and pains, problems concentrating, leg swelling, constipation, and depression.
There is no cure for Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. Diet changes, natural supplements, vitamins, or other natural products will not treat Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. Treatment for the autoimmune disorder is with thyroid hormone replacement therapy, which will be necessary for the rest of the person’s life.
Hyperthyroidism is an excess of thyroid hormone due to an overactive thyroid gland. Symptoms can include increased heart rate, weight loss, heart palpitations, frequent bowel movements, depression, fatigue, fine or brittle hair, sleep problems, thinning skin, and irregular vaginal bleeding.
Graves' disease is the most common cause of hyperthyroidism. Many other health problems or taking excess thyroid hormone medication can cause an overactive thyroid gland. Treatment for the condition is with medication, radioactive iodine, thyroid surgery (rarely), or reducing the dose of thyroid hormone. No diet has been shown to treat hyperthyroidism or its symptoms and signs.
Hyperthyroidism SlidesWhat is hyperthyroidism? Hyperthyroidism occurs when an overactive thyroid gland produces an excessive amount of thyroid hormones. Learn hyperthyroidism causes, symptoms, and treatment.
Hypothyroidism is any state in which thyroid hormone production is below normal. Normally, the rate of thyroid hormone production is controlled by the brain by the pituitary gland. Hypothyroidism is a very common condition and the symptoms of hypothyroidism are often subtle, but may include, constipation, memory loss, hair loss, and depression. There are a variety of causes of hypothyroidism, and treatment depends on the cause.
Hypothyroidism During Pregnancy
Hypothyroidism during pregnancy can be treated with synthetic thyroid hormones to maintain the proper thyroid hormone balance. Hypothyroidism symptoms include fatigue, weight gain, lethargy, and constipation. Treatment of hypothyroidism in pregnant women is important, because inadequate levels of thyroid hormones may affect the fetus, and child during growth and development.
Thyroid Blood Tests
Thyroid blood tests determine the adequacy of the levels of thyroid hormones in in a patient. The blood tests can determine if the thyroid gland's hormone production is normal, overactive, or underactive. The level of thyroid hormones may help to diagnose hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism. The test may also point to other diseases of conditions of the thyroid gland.
Thyroid Disorders Symptoms and SignsThyroid diseases and disorders are caused because the body either makes too much or too little thyroid hormones, which are necessary for vital functions of the body.
Thyroid disease and disorder symptoms and signs depend on the type of the thyroid problem. Examples include heat or cold intolerance, sweating, weight loss or gain, palpitations, fatigue, dry skin, constipation, brittle hair, joint aches and pains, heart palpitations, edema, feeling bloated, puffiness in the face, reduced menstrual flow, changes in the frequency of bowel movements and habits, high cholesterol, hoarseness, brittle hair, difficulty swallowing, shortness of breath, a visible lump or swelling in the neck, tremors, memory problems, depression, nervousness, agitation, irritability, or poor concentration.
Thyroid problems are more common in women.
Thyroid DisordersThere are several types of thyroid disorders including hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism, goiters, thyroid nodules, and thyroid cancer. Symptoms vary by condition. Diagnosis is made with blood tests, scans, ultrasound, or biopsy. Treatments depend on the disorder and can include medication or surgery.
Thyroid NodulesThyroid nodules are the most common endocrine problem in the United States. The term thyroid nodule refers to any abnormal growth that forms a lump in the thyroid gland. The vast majority of thyroid nodules are benign.
Illustrations of ThyroidThe thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland located in the front of the neck just below the Adams apple. See a picture of the Thyroid and learn more about the health topic.
Your Thyroid: Common Thyroid Problems and Diseases ExplainedLearn about thyroid problems such as hyperthyroidism, hypothyroidism, thyroid cancer, and more. Discover symptoms and treatments for various thyroid problems.
Thyroid QuizYour unexplained change in weight could indicate a thyroid condition. Take the Thyroid Quiz to learn about common symptoms and treatments of overactive and underactive thyroid disorders.
Thyroid ScanThyroid scanning is used to determine how active the thyroid is in manufacturing thyroid hormone. This can determine whether inflammation of the thyroid gland (thyroiditis) is present. It can also detect the presence and degree of overactivity of the gland (hyperthyroidism) or, conversely, it can determine the presence and degree of underactivity of the gland (hypothyroidism).
Thyroid ProblemsThe thyroid gland is a butterfly-shaped gland located in the front of the neck. The thyroid gland produces important thyroid hormones, which are produced by the pituitary gland. There are six types of thyroid problems. Home remedies, medications, surgery, lifestyle changes, and surgery. Usually, most types of thyroid problems can be managed with home remedies, medications, lifestyle changes (diet, yoga), and surgery.
Cancer: Visual Guide to Thyroid CancerFind out the symptoms of thyroid cancer, and learn how to treat it after you get a diagnosis.