What You Need To Know About Your Thyroid

The thyroid gland produces hormones that impact your body’s metabolic processes, which has an effect on many aspects of your health. The symptoms of a thyroid disorder may be confused with other conditions or even go unnoticed, but serious problems can occur if left untreated. Learn about the symptoms of hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism and serious problems that can occur if left untreated.


Hypothyroidism occurs when the thyroid does not produce enough thyroid hormone. As the most common type of thyroid disorder, it affects millions of people in America and many are not yet aware they have it. Factors that increase your risk of hypothyroidism include older age, being female, and having a family history of thyroid problems. Symptoms of hypothyroidism include:

  • Fatigue
  • Puffy face
  • Sensitivity to cold
  • Slower pulse
  • Developing thick, coarse hair
  • Numbness in extremities
  • Hoarseness
  • Slowed speech
  • Constipation
  • Weight gain
  • Menstruation problems
  • Headaches
  • Confusion
  • Depression
  • Thinning eyebrows
  • Cramps


Hyperthyroidism occurs when the thyroid produces too much thyroid hormone. Like hypothyroidism, older women and those with a family history of thyroid problems are more at risk for developing hyperthyroidism. Symptoms of hyperthyroidism include:

  • Fatigue
  • Nervousness
  • Irritability
  • Fast heartbeat
  • Profuse sweating
  • Hand tremor
  • Thinning of the skin
  • Weak muscles
  • Fine, brittle hair
  • High blood pressure
  • Weight loss
  • Protruding eyes
  • Problems sleeping
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Confusion
  • Menstruation problems
  • Large thyroid gland

Emergency Conditions

If left untreated, hypothyroidism can lead to life-threatening problems, such as heart failure, coma, and severe depression. It can also cause anemia and hypothermia. Hypothyroidism can lead to suppurative thyroiditis, an infection of the thyroid gland beginning with a respiratory infection. If left untreated, hyperthyroidism can lead to heart and pregnancy problems. Too much thyroid hormone released in a small amount of time can cause a thyroid crisis, characterized by high fever, shock, irritability, and symptoms of heart failure, which requires immediate medical attention. Hyperthyroidism also increases your risk of osteoporosis and fractures. Seek immediate medical attention if you are experiencing any of the above emergency conditions. Baylor St. Luke’s Emergency Centers are open 24/7 for all emergencies.

Health Tip: Spot the Signs of Hypothyroidism
Hypothyroidism Hyperthyroidism
Even Slightly Overactive Thyroid Linked to Higher Fracture Risk NY Times

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