Spotting the Warning Signs of a Thyroid Disorder

Your thyroid is a major hormone gland that directs the function of many body systems. Any condition that affects thyroid function alters hormone production and disrupts the normal workings of your body.

Thyroid disorders are common, affecting more than 20 million people in the United States. Though anyone can develop a problem with their thyroid at any age, thyroid disorders are more common in women. 

At Endocrinology and Osteoporosis Centers of Texas, our board-certified endocrinologist, Dr. Ashkan Zand, and our team specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of thyroid disorders. 

Signs and symptoms of a thyroid disorder vary depending on the type. However, the symptoms may be subtle and go unnoticed and undiagnosed for years. 

Here, we want to provide you with a guide for spotting the warning signs of thyroid disorders. You may find that your weight struggles may have more to do with your hormones than lack of willpower.  

About your thyroid

Your thyroid is a bowtie-shaped gland found in the front of your neck, below your Adam’s apple, and above your windpipe. Part of the endocrine system, it produces three hormones, including 

From a medical standpoint, T3 and T4 are the primary thyroid hormones. These hormones control your body’s basal metabolic rate, which is the amount of energy (calories) your body needs to maintain normal body functions. 

In essence, these hormones control heart rate, body temperature, digestion, and reflexes. They also play a significant role in controlling growth and development. 

Calcitonin regulates blood calcium levels and bone metabolism. 

Your pituitary gland — located at the base of your brain — controls the thyroid by producing the thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH). TSH dictates the production and release of T3 and T4. 

With a thyroid disorder, your thyroid gland overproduces or underproduces thyroid hormones. 

Symptoms of a thyroid hormone imbalance

When your thyroid gland overproduces thyroid hormones, your BMR increases, meaning your body burns more energy than it should. This is a condition called hyperthyroidism.

With hyperthyroidism, you may have:

On the flipside, when your thyroid under-produces thyroid hormones, your BMR slows down and your body burns less energy. This is called hypothyroidism, which may cause symptoms such as:

Hashimoto’s disease is the most common cause of hypothyroidism in the US. It occurs when your immune system attacks and destroys the hormone-producing cells in your thyroid.  

Spotting the warning signs of a thyroid disorder

Thyroid disorder symptoms develop slowly over years and may go unnoticed. Additionally, these symptoms are similar to other health conditions, as well as life stages like menopause, which may delay a diagnosis.

However, knowing some of the warning signs of a thyroid disorder may help you spot some of the differences and get the diagnosis and help you need. 

Warning signs of a thyroid disorder:

Changes in energy levels

A drastic change in energy level may be an early warning sign of a thyroid disorder. With hypothyroidism, you may battle with chronic exhaustion. And with hyperthyroidism, you may feel overly anxious and jittery.  

Changes in weight

As noted, your thyroid hormones dictate the amount of energy your body burns running various body functions. If you’re struggling to lose weight or gain weight, then there may be a problem with thyroid hormone production. 

Changes in hair or skin

Changes in thyroid hormone levels, whether you’re producing too much or too little, affects the hair and skin. If your hair is thinning or it’s fine and brittle, it may be due to a thyroid disorder. Changes in thyroid hormone levels may also make your skin dry.

Finding the right treatment to manage your thyroid disorder may take some time. We create individualized plans that include a combination of lifestyle changes and prescription medications. The goal is to restore hormone balance, alleviate your symptoms, and improve your quality of life. 

Thyroid disorders are common and may go unnoticed. If you have some of the warning signs, call our office in Houston or Pearland, Texas.

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