By Dr. Pankaj Kumar, Internal Medicine
Thyroid diseases are the ones where there is an abnormal flow of the thyroid hormone from the thyroid gland. The impaired flow can affect you in four different ways; one is hyperthyroidism (when there is an over secretion of the thyroid hormone), the second one is hypothyroidism (when there is an under secretion of the thyroid hormone), the third one is enlargement of the thyroid gland (referred to as structural changes), and the fourth one is tumors (which can be benign or cancerous).
Sometimes associated with an abnormally functioning thyroid gland is a goiter. It is when a part of the neck swells because of the presence of the dysfunctional thyroid gland. Studies show that approximately one-third of the world’s population resides in places where they suffer from iodine deficiency thus opening up the way to goiter and more women are prone to thyroid diseases than men. The signs vary from one type to the other but there are a few general symptoms which if they crop up should be seriously considered and dealt with. Here are some of the signs you need to look out for:
- Weight fluctuation: For hypothyroidism, there is a significant weight gain, about four to five kilograms, while for hyperthyroidism there is visible weight loss. A fatigue sets in and these symptoms are only evident depending on how mild or severe the affliction is.
- Tremors: You are likely to feel tremors or agitated with an additional feeling of nervousness. This is common for hyperthyroidism and for hypothyroidism you will experience muscle cramping and sluggishness, slow body movement and such.
- Mental confusion: This is common for both types. Depression and anxiety are major symptoms along with passivity. Hyperthyroidism also brings along a reduction in the ability to concentrate properly.
- Bowel movements: Diarrhoea is a major symptom of hyperthyroidism if you are defecating repeatedly throughout the day and no amount of medication can bring it under control then you need to visit your doctor, correspondingly if you are constipated often, it is a sign of hypothyroidism and should also get some medical help.
- Hair and skin: There is rapid thinning of hair, bald patches and hair loss seen in both patients of hyper and hypothyroidism. Hyperthyroidism also contributes to weak nails that break easily, and coarse skin textures or drying up of the skin. Perceptions of heat and cold are impaired. Patients of hyperthyroidism cannot endure higher temperatures whereas patients of hypothyroidism experience discomfort in colder environments.