What are symptoms of thyroid trouble

01:00 Mon 08th Apr 2002 |

asks mjleex:
Your thyroid gland is found at the lower front of your neck and helps to regulate the body's energy levels. Common thyroid problems are over- or under-production of hormones (hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism).

Q. What it hyperthyroidism
It's overproduction of thyroid hormones by an overactive thyroid gland and is usually associated with an increased metabolism.

There are three types:

  • Diffuse toxic goitre - also known as Grave's disease - is mostly seen in young people. Here, the thyroid gland is slightly swollen and there will be eye problems, ranging from dry, irritated eyes to protruding eyes.
  • Toxic nodular goitre tends to affect elderly people and is sometimes caused by a tumour, usually benign.
  • Subacute thyroiditis - also known as De Quervain's thyroiditis - is caused by an inflammation, perhaps due to a viral infection, and the symptoms are temporary.

Q. What causes it
It's not certain, but infections, smoking and stress, as well as some types of prescribed drugs, can trigger it.

Q. Who gets it
It affects about one per cent of adults, usually young to middle-aged women, especially smokers.

Q. What are the symptoms
Early symptoms are loss of weight, increased appetite, intolerance of heat and increased sweating.


  • increased heart rate
  • nervousness
  • restlessness
  • trembling hands
  • protruding eyes
  • enlarged thyroid
  • muscle pains
  • disturbed periods
  • in more severe cases, muscles - including heart muscles - may waste.

Q. What about hypothyroidism
Hypothyroidism is underproduction of the thyroid hormones by an underactive thyroid gland. This causes problems because the body's metabolism decreases.

Q. What causes it
The main causes are: chronic autoimmune inflammation - also known as Hashimoto's thyroiditis - where the body's immune system seems to turn on itself; complications from treatment of an overactive thyroid gland; it's inherited; it's the result of prescribed drugs; over-consumption of iodine (for example, excessive amounts of kelp).

Q. Who gets it
About one per cent of the adult population, mostly elderly women.

Q. What are the symptoms
Lethargy and tiredness


    • weak muscles and cramps
    • slow heart rate
    • hair loss
    • weight gain
    • deep and husky voice
    • enlarged thyroid
    • inability to tolerate the cold
    • depression
    • constipation
    • dry, rough skin
    • poor memory
    • in more severe cases, dementia.

    Q. How are they diagnosed
    The levels of thyroid hormones in the blood are measured.

    Hyperthyroidism can be controlled by drugs or part of the thyroid gland may be removed. Older patients may be treated with radioactive iodine.

    Hypothyroidism is treated with the thyroid hormone thyroxine and needs to be taken for life.

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