The symptoms of thyroid dysfunction differ for an underactive thyroid — called hypothyroidism, and an overactive thyroid — called hyperthyroidism. About 20 million Americans have some form of thyroid disease, so it’s very common and treatable. Dr. Vandana Kumra of ENT New York is an ear, nose, and throat specialist who also diagnoses and treats thyroid issues in our Central Park West office.
What is the thyroid?
The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland found in your neck. It has the important job of making hormones that help control your metabolism. In this sense, metabolism refers to how your body — and each cell in it — uses fuel for energy for every process required for living. So, if there’s a problem with your thyroid, your body won’t function at its best.
Causes of thyroid dysfunction
Some people are born with thyroid problems, and may need lifelong medication. Other causes include:
- An immune-system disorder called Hashimoto’s thyroiditis
- Low levels of iodine, a mineral needed for thyroid function
- Inflammation of the thyroid gland
Interestingly, women are more likely to have a thyroid issue than men.
An underactive thyroid can make you sluggish and exhausted, even though you sleep a lot. The only way to know if you have a thyroid problem is to see Dr. Kumra for a consultation and blood tests. Other symptoms of hypothyroidism include:
- Feeling cold most of the time
- Having dry or itchy skin
- Being down or depressed
- Gaining weight
- Having dry and brittle hair and nails or hair loss
- Experiencing body aches and pains
- Being constipated
- Having trouble getting pregnant
- Experiencing heavy, painful periods
- Having trouble concentrating or remembering things
An overactive thyroid affects some of the same bodily functions as an underactive thyroid but in different ways. Symptoms of hyperthyroidism include:
- Feeling warm or being intolerant to heat
- Having anxiety or panic attacks
- Losing weight without trying
- Being irritable or nervous
- Experiencing eye or vision problems
- Having trouble sleeping
- Developing skin rashes
- Losing hair or thinning hair
- Having diarrhea or loose bowel movements
With both of these thyroid conditions, you could feel like your neck is full or swollen, it may be hard for you to wear scarves or turtleneck sweaters, or you could have trouble breathing or swallowing.
Treatment may include taking a pill that contains synthetic thyroid hormones, or having your thyroid partially or fully removed. It all depends on your diagnosis.
Sometimes, a problem with your thyroid could be something more serious like cancer. That’s why you should have your thyroid checked if you have any of the signs of thyroid dysfunction.
If you think you have a thyroid issue, make an appointment to see Dr. Kumra in Manhattan. Book online or call 646-859-6136 today.