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Thyroid Awareness Symptoms Causes do Neck Check and TSH

ramez-e-nassif-MleYuWDtQ50-unsplash thyroid awareness symptoms

Last updated 12/28/2023

There could be millions of Americans who have a thyroid condition affecting their health and wellbeing. Still more than half haven’t been diagnosed. Thyroid awareness symptoms.

An undiagnosed thyroid disease can put you at risk for other health problems like cardiovascular diseases, osteoporosis and infertility. Mainly women are diagnosed with thyroid conditions. However, men and children can develop this issue as well.

Usually, it affects those over age 60. It could be found during a routine blood test.

This is a thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH blood test) it measures the amount of TSH your pituitary gland is making.

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What is the Thyroid Gland?

Your thyroid gland is part of your endocrine system. It is similar to a small butterfly shape and found at the base of the neck just below the Adam’s apple (men). The gland plays a major role in our body’s function of essential organs such as our heart, brain, liver, kidneys and yes, our skin.

The thyroid’s purpose is to supply thyroid hormones that are secreted into the blood and then carried to all the tissue in the body.

These hormones assist the body in using energy, staying warm and keeping your other organs working right. Most importantly, they make sure your thyroid gland is functioning well and healthy.

What is Hyperthyroidism?

Hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid) is when your thyroid gland is making more of the hormones thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3) than what your body needs. This can cause your metabolism to speed up, leading to unintentional weight loss and a fast or irregular heartbeat.

Symptoms of Hyperthyroidism:

  • Goiter
  • Skin thinning
  • Fine, brittle hair
  • Unintentional weight loss (while having your normal appetite and eating same)
  • Fast heartbeat (tachycardia) usually over 100 beats a minute
  • Irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia)
  • Pounding of your heart (palpitations)
  • Increased appetite
  • Nervousness, anxiety and irritability
  • Tremor (usually a fine trembling of hands and fingers)
  • Sweating
  • Changes in menstrual patterns
  • More sensitivity to heat
  • Changes in bowel patterns (additional frequent bowel movements)
  • Fatigue
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Muscle weakness

Symptoms may be similar to other health conditions. If you have risk factors your doctor will order test. Diagnosis requires lab test.

A prescription of anti-thyroid medications and radioactive iodine may be given to slow the making of thyroid hormones.

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Causes of Hyperthyroidism

Grave’s Opthalmopathy

This affects the eyes, especially if you are a smoker. Grave’s disease makes your eyeballs protrude due to the tissues and muscles behind the eyes swelling.

Thyroiditis

This occurs when your thyroid gland becomes inflamed after a pregnancy, because of an autoimmune condition or for unknown reasons. This inflammation can make more thyroid hormones stored by the gland to leak into your bloodstream. Some kinds of thyroiditis can be painful while others aren’t.

What is Hypothyroidism?

Hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid) is the condition where your thyroid gland is not making enough of the thyroid hormones thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3) your body needs.

If left untreated hypothyroidism eventually can lead to a number of health issues including obesity, joint pain, infertility and heart disease.

Depending on how much the hormone deficiency, sign and symptoms can vary. Problems usually come about slowly over a number of years.

You may not notice the symptoms of hypothyroidism like the fatigue and weight gain. You may just brush them away as coming with age. But other symptoms develop with your metabolism continuing to slow down.

Symptoms of Hypothyroidism:

  • Goiter
  • Dry skin
  • Puffy face
  • Thinning hair
  • Weight increase
  • Slower heart rate (bradycardia)
  • Hoarseness
  • Fatigue
  • More sensitive to cold
  • Constipation
  • Muscle weakness
  • Muscle aches, tenderness and stiffness
  • Pain, stiffness or swelling of the joints
  • Elevated blood cholesterol level
  • Heavier than usual or irregular menstrual periods
  • Depression
  • Memory is impaired

Symptoms may be similar to other health conditions. If you have risk factors your doctor will order test. Diagnosis requires lab test.

Causes of Hypothyroidism

Autoimmune Disease

Hypothyroidism is most commonly caused by Hashimoto’s thyroiditis which attacks the thyroid gland. It is not known exactly why this happens but could be linked to genes or an environmental trigger.

Reaction to Hyperthyroidism Treatment

In treating hyperthyroidism, a radioactive iodine or anti-thyroid medication is used. This is hopefully to get the thyroid function back to a normal phase. Sometimes this doesn’t work. It can end up lowering the hormone production too much.

Thyroid Surgery

Taking away most or a large amount of your thyroid gland can diminish or stop hormone production. For this reason, you will need to take thyroid medication for life.

Radiation Therapy

Radiation is used as the treatment for cancers of the head and neck. This can affect your thyroid gland and may cause hypothyroidism.

Medication

Some types of medication may lead to hypothyroidism. An example is lithium that is used to treat certain psychiatric disorders. Consult your doctor.

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How to do a Thyroid Neck Check

You can do this yourself at home. It is a self-exam on your own thyroid gland that can help you spot lumps or enlargements.

However, keep in mind that a neck check is not the most accurate way to find a thyroid disease. Although your neck may look normal on the surface, it could be hiding something more serious.

If you have risk factors for thyroid disease it is wise to check your neck regularly. Finding a lump is a sign to visit your doctor for a thorough exam.

Face Your Mirror

Direct yourself or your mirror so that you can view your lower, front neck and remove items that can interfere with this view.

Tilt Your Head

Extend your neck back a bit so that your chin points toward the ceiling, as long as you are still able to see your mirror without any problems.

Locate Your Thyroid

Place your finger (pointer would probably be first choice) on the tip of your chin and then slide it down the center. The first area you feel will be the top of the thyroid cartilage, although it is not where we find the thyroid gland.

Keep sliding your finger down your neck (Adam’s apple). Just past this you feel the cricoid cartilage. Still sliding down are the first two rings of the trachea. On top of these you’ll find the thyroid gland.

Take a Sip of Water

But don’t swallow hold the water in your mouth. Extend your neck backward again then swallow.

Observe any Lumps

While you swallow with your neck back, observe any irregularities like enlargements, lumps, protrusions or anything that appears off. (Lumps in the thyroid gland will move during swallowing.)

Touch the Spot 

Gently feel this area around your thyroid searching for any enlargements or lumps. Usually, a thyroid nodule will have a round shape and move or roll along with the gland as you swallow.

While a goiter can appear on one or both sides of the thyroid (remember butterfly two wings).

Repeat the Process

Do this routine a few times to familiarize yourself with your neck structures. It may take some practice. Take notes if this helps.

Wrapping it up

More than half a million don't know they have a thyroid condition. This can be a risk for cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis and infertility. In conclusion, the thyroid gland plays a major role in the function of your important organs.

There are two types of thyroidism. Symptoms can be somewhat similar. Most importantly, you can do a self-exam of your thyroid gland. However, it is not the most accurate, so if concerned follow up with your physician.

Do you or someone you know have a thyroid condition?

Mary

Mary is the founder of All About Our Skin. Former esthetician and CPC. Enjoys researching skincare and has been studying our skin for the past fifteen years.

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