Your thyroid, a butterfly-shaped gland in your neck, controls your body’s hormone production, weight, cholesterol level, nervous system, metabolism, and more. However, what happens when your thyroid doesn’t function as it should? Here is everything you need to know, from symptoms to treatments, about the five most common thyroid diseases.
Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is an autoimmune disease that prevents the thyroid from creating enough thyroid hormones. When the thyroid is damaged enough, it leads to hypothyroidism. It’s also commonly found in women. According to a study published in the journal Endocrine Practices, “Autoimmune thyroid diseases (AITDs) have been estimated to be five-10 times more common in women than in men.”
Signs and Symptoms: Fatigue, slow metabolism, weight gain, irregular menstruation, thinning hair, cold intolerance, depression, and joint pain.
Cause: There is no specific cause of hashimoto’s thyroiditis, but genes, gender, and age are factors.
Treatment: If you develop Hypothyroidism from Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, a thyroid supplement pill likeSynthroid (levothyroxine will give your body the right number of thyroid hormones.
You’ll develop Hypothyroidism if your body has an insufficient amount of thyroxine, which is the main hormone secreted into the bloodstream by the thyroid gland.. This disease slows your body, causing mental, physical, and hormonal changes.
Signs and Symptoms: Fatigue, irregular menstruation, cold intolerance, weight gain, slow metabolism, hair loss, brittle nails, depression, and dry skin.
Causes: According to James Norman, MD, FACS, FACE, of EndocrineWeb, “The most common cause of thyroid gland failure is called autoimmune thyroiditis (also called Hashimoto’s thyroiditis), a form of thyroid inflammation caused by the patient’s own immune system.” Hypothyroidism can also occur due to thyroid surgery for hyperthyroidism or radiation therapy of the head and neck.
Treatment: Taking levothyroxine.
With Graves’ disease, the immune system creates antibodies that act like thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH). According to WebMD, “A malfunction in the body’s immune system releases abnormal antibodies that mimic TSH.” These antibodies trick the thyroid into producing more thyroxine, which causes hyperthyroidism.
Signs and Symptoms: Bulging eyes, heat sensitivity, heart palpitations, weight loss, enlarged thyroid, irregular menstruation, and anxiety.
Cause: There is no known cause of Graves’ Disease. However, genetics are a factor.
Treatments: Radioactive iodine therapy, antithyroid medications like Methimazole, and surgery.
Hyperthyroidism is a thyroid disease in which a person’s body has too much thyroxine. The body’s metabolism speeds up to compensate.
Signs and Symptoms: Increased metabolism, anxiety, weight loss, thinning skin, increased heart rate, and irregular menstruation.
Cause: According to the American Thyroid Association, “The most common cause (in more than 70% of people) is overproduction of thyroid hormone by the entire thyroid gland.”
Treatments: Antithyroid medications, radioactive iodine, or thyroid surgery.
Thyroid cancer is a condition in which thyroid cells become cancerous, forming a nodule on your thyroid. There are four types of thyroid cancer: papillary, follicular, anaplastic, and medullary, with papillary being the most common. According to 2018 statistics from the American Cancer Society, there are “about 53,990 new cases of thyroid cancer (40,900 in women, and 13,090 in men).”
Signs and Symptoms: Palpable lump in neck, nodule on one or both thyroid lobes, difficulty swallowing, consistent cough, hoarse voice, and neck/throat pain.
Cause: Thyroid cell DNA mutation is a factor.
Treatment: Thyroid surgery.
Garber JR, Cobin RH, Garib H, et al. Clinical practice guidelines for hypothyroidism in adults: cosponsored by the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists and the American Thyroid Association. Endocrine Practice. 2012;18(6):988–1028.