Most every function in your body is regulated by signaling molecules called hormones, which are produced in various glands located throughout your body. When something goes awry in one of these glands, it can affect hormone production and leave you with noticeable side effects. This is certainly true of the thyroid gland.
As ear, nose, and throat specialists, Cecil Yeung, MD and Marcus Hershey, MD here at Houston Sinus Surgery understand the widespread impact that a malfunctioning thyroid can have on your health.
To help you spot signs of a thyroid disorder, we’ve outlined some of the more common symptoms below.
Your thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland in your neck that surrounds your trachea (windpipe). This gland secretes thyroid hormones (namely T3 and T4) that control one of the most important functions in your body — how you convert food into energy. Also known as your metabolism, this function casts a wide net over your health and wellness and is essential for most every cell in your body.
When there’s a problem in your thyroid that affects how it produces hormones, you can develop what we call hypothyroidism (too few hormones) or hyperthyroidism (too many hormones).
The side effects of hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism
If you have a thyroid disorder that affects hormone production, the following are the most common side effects when it comes to hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism.
- Restlessness or nervousness
- Excessive sweating
- Racing heart rate
- Muscle weakness
- Weight loss
- Brittle hair and nails
- Trouble sleeping
- Loss of energy and fatigue
- Sensitivity to cold temperatures
- Muscle weakness
- Dry skin
- Weight gain
- Cognitive issues (primarily memory)
- Slowed heart rate
The severity of these symptoms depends upon how greatly your hormone production is affected by the thyroid disorder.
What causes the thyroid to malfunction?
There are several problems that can lead to hypo- and hyperthyroidism, chief among them are the following:
- Grave’s disease (70% of those with hyperthyroidism have this condition)
- Hashimoto’s thyroiditis (most common cause of hypothyroidism)
- Goiter (enlargement of your thyroid)
- Thyroid nodules
This last item on the list is one area in which we have tremendous experience. Thyroid nodules are incredibly common, especially among children and teens, and up to 50% of people will develop a thyroid nodule.
Thankfully, in most cases, thyroid nodules aren’t a cause for concern, and most people are unaware of their existence. If you do develop symptoms, however, you should have us thoroughly evaluate your thyroid, which we do through advanced imaging and blood testing.
Apart from the side effects of an imbalance in your thyroid hormone levels, nodules can grow large or numerous enough to press against your windpipe, which can lead to difficulties with swallowing, breathing, and speaking (hoarseness).
When this is the case, we may recommend surgical removal of the nodule, which we also test for any signs of thyroid cancer.
If you’re experiencing any of the thyroid symptoms we outlined above, we can help. To learn more, book an appointment online or over the phone with Houston Sinus Surgery today.