The thyroid gland is a small organ located at the front of your neck; it produces and controls thyroid hormones that influence most of the metabolic processes in your body. Health conditions like thyroid disease Newport Beach cause the gland to make too much or inadequate thyroid hormone. Production of excess thyroid hormone (hyperthyroidism) can result in fatigue, weight loss, rapid heartbeat, and nervousness. When the thyroid gland produces little hormones, you may gain weight, feel tired, and may be unable to withstand cold temperatures.

What causes thyroid disease?

The two main types of thyroid disease – hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism- can result from diseases that affect the function of the thyroid gland. Examples of conditions that cause hyperthyroidism include:

  • Excessive iodine. Iodine is the mineral used to make thyroid hormones. Too much of it causes the thyroid to produce excess thyroid hormones. Medications like cough syrups and amiodarone contain excessive iodine.
  • Toxic adenomas. Nodules can develop in the thyroid gland and produce more thyroid hormones, upsetting the body’s chemical balance. Goiters may have one or several of these nodules. A gland with one nodule is called a toxic autonomously functioning thyroid nodule, and that with several nodules is called a toxic multi-nodular goiter.
  • Thyroiditis. The thyroid gland can release stored hormones, causing excess chemical production. Thyroiditis can be painful or asymptomatic.
  • Graves’ disease. In this condition, the thyroid gland is overactive and produces excess hormones.

Hypothyroidism or inadequate thyroid hormone production can be due to inflammation of the thyroid gland (thyroiditis). Other causes include:

Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. Your body’s immune system can mistakenly attack the thyroid gland, causing little or no hormone production. Hashimoto’s thyroiditis can be passed down in families.

Iodine deficiency. Iodine helps the thyroid gland produce hormones, so lack of it lowers thyroid hormone production.

In some people, the thyroid gland may be non-functioning from birth. If left untreated, this can cause intellectual disability and dwarfism in the future. For this reason, it is a routine practice for healthcare providers to check thyroid levels in newborns soon after birth. If the baby is diagnosed with hypothyroidism, treatment begins right away.

Your risk of developing thyroid disease is higher if you have type 1 diabetes because it is an autoimmune disorder. Once you have one autoimmune condition, you have a higher chance of developing another one.

Symptoms of thyroid disease

Thyroid disease causes various symptoms that, unfortunately, are often similar to those of other medical conditions. Therefore, it might be challenging to know if your symptoms are entirely due to thyroid disease or something else. An overactive thyroid causes signs and symptoms like:

  • Muscle weakness and tremors
  • Fatigue
  • Weight loss
  • Eye irritation or vision problems
  • Sensitivity to heat
  • Anxiety and irritability
  • An enlarged thyroid gland

If you have hypothyroidism, you may experience:

  • Fatigue
  • Weight gain
  • Memory problems
  • Hoarse voice
  • Dry and coarse hair
  • Frequent and heavy menstrual periods
  • Intolerance to cold temperatures

If you have further questions about thyroid disease, consult your healthcare provider, Dr. Sean P. Nikravan, MD, FACE.