Thyroid disease in Portland is common; it’s believed that around 20 million people throughout the United States have a thyroid disorder of some sort – a number equivalent to 12 percent of the population. Despite its prevalence, there is a widespread lack of knowledge about what it’s like to have thyroid disease. You’ll probably find some of the symptoms surprising.
What is the Thyroid?
The thyroid is a small, butterfly-shaped gland in the back of the throat. It plays a pivotal role in controlling metabolism, producing hormones that are responsible for many of the body’s daily functions. Every tissue and organ in the human body is affected by the thyroid.
Thyroid disease occurs under a variety of conditions. Sometimes, too little thyroid hormone is produced, resulting in hypothyroidism, a condition in which the metabolism slows down, causing symptoms such as weight gain, fatigue and depression. An overactive thyroid produces too much thyroid hormone, speeding up the body’s metabolism; hyperthyroidism causes a faster heartrate, weight loss, tremors and more.
Other thyroid diseases include nodules, small lumps that form on the thyroid; goiter, an enlarged thyroid; and several types of thyroid cancer, most of which respond very well to treatment.
Common Thyroid Symptoms You Probably Aren’t Aware Of
The following symptoms are fairly common among those with thyroid disease – even if they’re a surprise to you.
- Throat constriction. Inflammation of the thyroid gland can cause pain and swelling; both thyroiditis and goiter are known to cause tightness in the throat.
- Hair loss. Severe cases of hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism can cause hair loss that usually occurs evenly across the scalp. It’s also a side effect of certain thyroid medications.
- Panic attacks. Anxiety is a common symptom hyperthyroidism; too much hormone production causes an increased heart rate, elevated blood pressure, heart palpitations, insomnia and appetite reduction – all symptoms of anxiety.
- Fatigue. Patients with hypothyroidism frequently experience fatigue. An underactive thyroid gland saps your energy, making it difficult for you to complete even the most basic activities.
- Frozen shoulder. Known as adhesive capsulitis, this condition refers to pain and stiffness in the shoulder and is often associated with endocrine conditions such as thyroid disease, though scientists are unsure why.
- Brain fog. Cognitive dysfunction – in simpler terms, “brain fog” – is a byproduct of thyroid disease, manifesting itself through concentration difficulties, reduced mental alertness and lapses in memory.
- Persistent cough. A cough that is constant or lingering may indicate the presence of thyroid nodules. These lumps on the thyroid gland can also cause throat pain and swallowing difficulties.
- Facial flushing. Hyperthyroidism increases blood flow in the extremities, which often causes the face to flush and the palms to turn red. Hypothyroidism produces the opposite effect and can leave you pale.
- Heart problems. Too much or too little thyroid hormone can both affect heart rate; hypothyroidism slows down the heart and leads to increased blood pressure and high cholesterol levels, while hyperthyroidism speeds up the heart, increasing your risk of atrial fibrillilation, chest pain and angina.
- Skin problems. Thyroid disease can cause a wide variety of skin issues depending on the problem. Patients with hypothyroidism often experience skin that is pale, dry and cool to the touch; itchiness and flaking are common. This disorder can also cause red or swollen skin, puffiness and velvety dark coloring in the folds of the skin. People with hyperthyroidism often have moist, warm skin and redness in the face and palms. They may experience thinning skin, as well.
Other symptoms of thyroid disease include hoarseness, mood swings, fertility problems, peripheral neuropathy, constipation, poor temperature regulation, muscle weakness, eye pain and pressure, vertigo, depression, headaches, shortness of breath and wounds that heal slowly.
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms and haven’t been diagnosed with thyroid disease, we suggest contacting your Portland ENT specialist for an examination.