Many people who have a thyroid problem do not act upon those symptoms until they become more severe. But what are the signs and symptoms of a thyroid gland problem? When should you see a thyroid doctor to get checked out? At Innovative Medicine in Lafayette, IN, we want you to know all the times it’s right to see a doctor.
When Should You See a Thyroid Doctor?
When You Recognize Symptoms of a Problem
If you have any of the symptoms of a thyroid condition, it’s important to see your doctor as soon as possible. This includes fatigue and sluggishness, weight loss or weight gain, lack of appetite, mood swings, and just not feeling “yourself.” Even if you’re not sure if you have a thyroid problem, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Untreated thyroid conditions can lead to more serious problems down the road.
A thyroid condition can be diagnosed by taking a simple blood test. If you don’t have your bloodwork done, your doctor can still likely figure out what is causing your symptoms based on years of expertise and a knowledge of the thyroid and its issues.
When Symptoms Start Getting Worse
If you are already taking thyroid medication, and it isn’t working, or if your symptoms are getting worse, it’s time to see your doctor. It’s possible that hormone levels are changing dramatically and you need a dosage adjustment or that a different intervention will help more.
When You Notice a Lump
If you have a thyroid condition, it’s important to check the front of your neck regularly for any changes. You might not feel it in your neck, but you can usually see a lump in front of your neck when you look in the mirror. This is called a goiter and needs to be checked out by a doctor immediately.
When You Become Pregnant
If you’re already being treated for a thyroid condition and you become pregnant, it’s important to see your doctor soon. In order to make sure that your pregnancy is going well, they need to do some bloodwork. This will help them determine if your thyroid levels are changing and also whether the medications you have been taking are safe for you to continue taking while pregnant.
What Is the Thyroid?
The thyroid is a small, butterfly-shaped gland located at the base of your neck. It’s usually not noticeable unless it’s enlarged, which can be caused by several factors such as inflammation, nodules, or cancer. The thyroid gland produces several hormones that have a wide-ranging impact on your body, from metabolism and energy levels to physical growth and body temperature.
What Can Go Wrong With the Thyroid?
When you have an overactive thyroid, also known as hyperthyroidism, the thyroid gland produces too much thyroid hormone. This can happen to anyone, but it’s most common in women between age 20 and 40. Symptom of an overactive thyroid can include:
- Mood swings
- Weakness or tiredness
- Heat sensitivity
- Nervousness and irritability
- Weight loss
- Heart palpitations
It’s important to see a doctor to get this checked out since an overactive thyroid that isn’t treated can result in eye issues, pregnancy complications, and even a thyroid storm, which is a life-threatening flare-up of thyroid symptoms.
When the thyroid produces too little hormone, this is known as hypothyroidism. This can be caused by the immune system attacking the thyroid, by thyroid cancer, or by treatments for overactive thyroid. Most of the time, this issue develops slowly, so you’re likely to notice you have a problem when you visit your thyroid doctor for regular tests. Treating it early is always the best option. Symptoms include:
- Weight gain
- Sensitivity to cold
- Dry skin and hair
- Muscle aches
Hashimoto’s Disease and Grave’s Disease are both types of autoimmune diseases. The first causes hypothyroidism, or an underactive thyroid. The second causes hyperthyroidism or an overactive thyroid. Hashimoto’s is the most common cause of hypothyroidism and you’re more likely to develop this if you already have an autoimmune disease. Grave’s is less common but can also lead to Grave’s ophthalmopathy, which causes vision issues, eye pain, and bulging eyes.
This is an inflammation of the thyroid gland. It begins by causing overactive thyroid, but within a few months, the thyroid becomes underactive. This condition develops in about 10% of women after they give birth, but the right monitoring and treatment from your thyroid doctor can take care of the issue, usually without any serious complications.
Thyroid cancer is one of the more common cancers, and they typically begin with lumps on the gland. Thankfully, 90% of the lumps that appear on thyroids turn out not to be cancerous. One of the dangers of thyroid cancer, however, is that it has very few symptoms. Routine exams can catch thyroid cancer before it becomes a life-threatening issue.
See Your Thyroid Doctor for More
If you’re experiencing any of the symptoms of thyroid conditions, or if you’re just feeling like there’s something wrong and you’re not yourself, it’s a good idea to see your doctor and get tested. You won’t believe the difference it can make when your thyroid issues are addressed and you regain your energy and vitality. Come see us at At Innovative Medicine in Lafayette, IN to get started.