Emergency -

University of South Florida

My Relationship with My Thyroid

The thyroid gland is one of those organs we like to blame things on. When we are feeling out of sorts, we have a tendency to say, “it must be my thyroid.”

The thyroid gland is found at the base of the neck, is shaped like a butterfly, and largely performs the function of regulating our metabolism; the process of transforming food into energy is known as metabolism.

Conversations revolving around thyroid and metabolism inevitably involve someone speculating about how their weight gain or loss is due to their metabolism.

While thyroid dysfunction may be associated with weight problems, the majority of weight issues are unrelated to thyroid function. There are many symptoms that are unknowingly connected with an overactive or underactive thyroid. These disorders are referred to as hyperactive thyroid and hypoactive thyroid, respectively.

Many times we dismiss the symptoms of a possible thyroid disorder because, at least initially, the symptoms seem minor.

“While most cases of being overweight and obese are unrelated to the thyroid, a screen for thyroid function is reasonable for people with weight difficulties and for those demonstrating one or more of the symptoms below,” said Dr. Henry Rodriguez of the Diabetes and Endocrinology Center at USF Health.

Hyperactive vs Hypoactive Thyroids, What’s The Difference?

Hyperactive (overactive) Thyroid Symptoms:
Weight loss
Enlarged thyroid gland
Irregular or rapid heartbeat
High blood pressure
Excessive sweating
Diarrhea or frequent bowel movements
Irregular periods
Smooth, damp skin
Trouble sleeping

Hypoactive (underactive) Thyroid Symptoms
Weight gain
Increased cholesterol
Hair loss
Puffiness in the face
Loss of libido
Intolerance to cold
Difficulty concentrating
Irregular periods
Dry skin
Joint pain

How Do I Know If My Thyroid Needs Help?

If it seems like women are more afflicted than men, they are. Thyroid dysfunction most commonly occurs as a consequence of autoimmune disorders and more women experience autoimmune disease than men. But men still can develop thyroid disorders.

Individuals experiencing one or more of the symptoms listed above should contact their health care provider, particularly if they have family history of thyroid disease,” Dr. Rodriguez said.

A simple blood test to measure thyroid hormones (TSH, or thyroid stimulating hormone) levels in your blood will determine if treatment is necessary.

High levels of TSH indicate the thyroid is not working at sufficient capacity: causing hypothyroidism. Low levels indicate an overactive thyroid gland that is producing too much thyroid hormone, causing hyperthyroidism.

To Restore The Thyroid To Its Correct Balance:

Hyperthyroidism requires treatment to slow down or stop the thyroid’s hormone production.
Hypothyroidism requires thyroid hormone that replaces the hormone your body is not producing.

Your doctor will discuss the best course of treatment for you, which can include medications, radiotherapy, or surgery.

To learn more about thyroid health visit Breaking Up With My Thyroid.

For an appointment at USF Health Otolaryngology (ENT) call 813 974-4683.

Written by Ercilia Colón


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