The thyroid gland is at the lower part of your neck, and is needed to produce most of the hormone in your home. The hormones produced in the thyroid are mostly responsible for energy, muscle maintenance and metabolism. The thyroid gland removes iodine from your blood to create the hormones it produces, and these hormones go on to affect every cell in your body.
Hypothyroidism is the name of the condition when the thyroid is not functioning well enough to meet your body’s demands. Hypothyroidism can be difficult to recognize, as many of the symptoms can be caused by other medical conditions, or as a result of hormonal problems that happen due to your thyroid under-performing. Some of the symptoms to hypothyroidism include:
- Dry skin and hair
- Muscle cramps
- Extreme sleepiness
- Intolerance of cold
- Increased cholesterol
When left untreated, an underactive thyroid can develop into a life-threatening condition. It can slow the heart rate, decrease the body’s temperature, and even lead to comas. Fortunately, hypothyroidism is easily treated if it is detected early.
While much rarer, the thyroid can actually become too active, which results in hyperthyroidism. The symptoms of hyperthyroidism become more apparent the worse the condition becomes. Symptoms may not be noticeable at all if your thyroid is barely functioning above normal levels. Symptoms include:
- Excessive sweating
- Intolerance of heat
- Increased heart rate
- Irregular menstrual flow
If left alone, an overactive thyroid can also be dangerous. It can result in high blood pressure and prolonged fevers, as well as confusion or delirium. In extreme cases, it can even lead to heart failure.
Treating Thyroid Issues
Under-active thyroids are easily treated, but require prolonged treatments. Hormone replacement therapy, usually in tablet form, can be used to provide the hormones that your thyroid is failing to produce on its own. These treatments are only able to make up for the lack of production that you suffer from, and cannot force your thyroid to up its own production. Because of this, these treatments tend to be life-long.
An overactive thyroid is a bit more difficult to treat, often involving surgery or specialized drugs. However, there are treatment methods for many of the symptoms to make them more bearable while waiting on a more permanent solution. It is important to remember that treating the symptoms will not cure hyperthyroidism, but can make it easier to live with it.