Learn about the causes of Thyroid Problems & find a practitioner in Auckland, Hamilton, Bay of Plenty, Wellington, Christchurch, Dunedin to help you overcome Thyroid Problems within New Zealand.
Therapies which may benefit Thyroid Problems
The thyroid gland produces hormones to control metabolism and growth.
Thyroid problems occur when the gland becomes over active
(hyperthyroidism) or under active (hypothyroidism) through disease.
Symptoms of an overactive thyroid include weight loss/gain, fatigue,
muscle weakness and breathing difficulty. Symptoms of an under active
thyroid include weight gain, slow heart rate, hoarse voice, flaky skin.
The thyroid can also develop nodules that may become cancerous.
Causes of thyroid problems
Thyroid problems are categorised as either being
over-active (hyperthyroidism) or under-active (hypothyroidism).
Over-active thyroid (hyperthyroidism)
When the thyroid gland produces too much thyroxine and triiodothyronine
hormones then it is referred to as hyperthyroidism. This is caused by a
number of conditions.
– this is the common cause of an over-active thyroid and is a condition
of the immune system. The body produces antibodies to help fight
infections but with an autoimmune condition the antibodies attack
healthy tissue. Graves' disease can also affect the eyes resulting in
discomfort and vision problems.
– lumps, known as nodules, can develop on the thyroid which can contain
abnormal tissue that affects the production of the two thyroid hormones
thyroxine and triiodothyronine..
When two or more nodules are
present on the thyroid gland it is called toxic multinodular goitre. If
only one nodule is present the condition is called a toxic thyroid
iodine is found in food and used by the thyroid gland to produce
hormones. Too much iodine (through supplements) can trigger the
production of too much thyroxine and triiodothyronine. This usually
only occurs if non-toxic nodules are present in the gland.
– a medication called 'amiodarone' which is used to control an
irregular heartbeat can cause hyperthyroidism if non-toxic nodules are
in the thyroid gland. Amiodarone contains iodine.
Thyroid cancer –
hyperthyroidism can be caused by cancer in the thyroid follicles (known
as follicular thyroid cancer). Cancer cells in the gland can begin to
produce the thyroid hormones on its own.
Under-active thyroid (hypothyroidism)
When the thyroid gland doesn't produce enough thyroxine, hypothyroidism
(under-active thyroid) occurs. The main causes of hypothyroidism are
– an autoimmune reaction causes antibodies to attack thyroid gland
cells resulting in inflammation called 'thyroiditis'. This inflammation
damages the gland preventing the production of enough throxine.
Treatment for over-active thyroid – over-treatment for hyperthyroidism using radioactive iodine or surgery can cause the thyroid to become under-active.
Iodine deficiency – although rare, a lack of iodine in the diet can cause hypothyroidism.
Viral infection – the thyroid gland can become inflamed as a result of a viral infection.
– if the thyroid gland doesn't develop properly in the womb, a baby can
be born with an under-active thyroid. The condition, known as
congenital hypothyroidism, is usually identified during the neonatal
Symptoms of thyroid problems
There are many symptoms to both an over-active thyroid and an
under-active thyroid although it is unusual to experience them all. The
main symptoms for both conditions are listed below.
Over-active thyroid symptoms
Symptoms associated with hyperthyroidism include:
Hyperthyroidism has some physical signs that you may experience such as:
- breathing difficulties
- problems sleeping
- mood swings
- muscle weakness
- frequent need to pass stools or urine
- streatorrhoea (fatty stools)
- increased appetite
- weight gain or loss
- infrequent menstruation or periods stopping altogether
- loss of libido (sex drive)
some rare cases a serious reaction can occur known as a thyroid storm.
This usually occurs after an infection, injury, stroke or during
childbirth if hyperthyroidism hasn't been properly diagnosed or
controlled. Thyroid storm symptoms include:
- swollen neck (caused by inflammation of the thyroid gland)
- heart rate increase while at rest
- difference in rhythm between the heart and pulse
- moist skin
- red palms
- nails becoming loose
- hair loss (patches)
- itchy skin
- muscle twitches in the face and limbs
rapid heartbeat (140bpm or more)
If left untreated, a thyroid storm can induce a coma so seek medical attention immediately.
Under-active thyroid symptoms
symptoms of an under-active thyroid can appear slowly and may not be
noticeable for many years. Common early symptoms of hypothyroidism
If left untreated, the following symptoms can develop:
- sensitivity to the cold
- feeling tired
- muscle aches
- muscle weakness
- muscle cramps
- dry skin
- weight gain
- brittle hair
- brittle nails
- lack of concentration
- puffy face
- dull expression
- thinning eyebrows
- hoarse voice
- hearing problems (even deafness)
- slow heart rate
Diagnosis of thyroid problems
Thyroid problems are
diagnosed by a GP performing a thyroid function test. This is a blood
test that determines how well the thyroid is functioning.
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