According to the American Thyroid Association, an estimated 20 million Americans have some form of thyroid disease. Up to 60 percent of people affected with the disease are unaware of their condition (1).
These diseases affect the thyroid, a butterfly-shaped gland located in the front of your neck. This gland affects your metabolism as well as other bodily functions.
One of the hormones it produces influences every cell, tissue and organ in the body.
Here are the two most common diseases that can affect this tiny but mighty gland.
Hyperthyroidism is a condition in which the thyroid gland is overactive and makes excessive amounts of thyroid hormone.
This can be caused by low levels of iodine. Lumps and inflammation in the gland can also cause the body to produce too much of the thyroid hormones thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3), which forces metabolism and other processes to go into overdrive (2,3).
In 70% of people, the condition is caused by Graves’ disease, a condition in which the antibodies in the blood that turn on the thyroid and cause it to grow and secrete too much thyroid hormone (4).
Symptoms include (5):
- Fatigue or muscle weakness
- Hand tremors
- Mood swings
- Nervousness or anxiety
- Rapid heartbeat
- Heart palpitations or irregular heartbeat
- Skin dryness
- Trouble sleeping
- Weight loss
- Increased frequency of bowel movements
- Light periods or skipping periods
- Irregular heartbeat
- Fine, brittle hair and hair loss
- Nausea and vomiting
- Breast development in men
- Shortness of breath
- Loss of consciousness
- Weak bones