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Hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism are common forms of thyroid diseases. Thyroid disease is an umbrella term for medical conditions that affect the thyroid gland’s normal hormone production.
The thyroid gland is a small organ located at the base of your neck. It wraps around your windpipe or trachea and is responsible for thyroid hormone production.1
Our in-house medical reviewer, Dr. Rizza Mira, says it is regulated by the pituitary gland to make hormones that “enable every single cell in the body to work."
The thyroid gland is essential to every function in the human body. It controls your metabolism, stimulates the growth and development of body organs, and manages their function.
The thyroid produces hormones Triiodothyronine (T3) and Thyroxine (T4) that control how much energy your body’s cells should use. They also influence essential body functions, such as temperature regulation and heart rate.
A properly working thyroid produces enough hormones to keep your body functioning well. When the thyroid malfunctions, it can lead to thyroid problems.
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Thyroid disease can affect anyone regardless of age and gender. According to the American Thyroid Association (ATA), around 20 million people in the U.S. have a thyroid disorder.2
Thyroid dysfunction like hypothyroidism can be present at birth. A person may also develop it from exposure to risk factors or if they’re genetically predisposed to the condition.
Certain people can be at higher risk. For example, thyroid problems often occur in women after menopause or when they’re aged 60 or older.
Women are also five to eight times more likely to develop thyroid disorders than men.2,3
Other factors that can increase your risk of developing thyroid disorders include:2
Thyroid disease is a term referring to conditions affecting your thyroid hormone production. It can affect people of all ages and gender. They can be present at birth or gene-related. Exposure to certain risk factors can also increase your chances of developing thyroid problems.
The early signs of thyroid problems depend on whether you have an underproduction or overproduction of thyroid hormones. Some of the common symptoms include:
Take note that health conditions other than thyroid problems may also cause these symptoms. A proper medical evaluation is essential to diagnose their cause.
Hypothyroidism is a health condition where your thyroid gland doesn’t produce enough thyroid hormones. It can slow down your metabolism.
Untreated hypothyroidism can result in health problems like obesity and joint pain.4 The condition can also affect the heart and brain in the long run.
You may not notice symptoms at the beginning. The signs may also vary depending on how severe your hypothyroidism is.
Some signs of an underactive thyroid include:
Infants with congenital hypothyroidism may show subtle signs. Symptoms may also progress slowly.
“Because there are no obvious signs of congenital hypothyroidism at birth, newborns are screened using a blood test for this disorder. Left untreated, the condition can affect neurological functioning and may lead to lifetime morbidity," Dr. Mira explains.
Babies with low thyroid hormones may show these signs and symptoms:
Children and teens with an underactive thyroid may show similar symptoms to adults with the same condition. In addition, they will experience symptoms of delayed development.4
The signs of hypothyroidism in children and adolescents are:
Hypothyroidism, or the medical condition called underactive thyroid, means your thyroid isn't releasing enough thyroid hormones. It can slow down metabolism and affect one's growth and development, especially in children and adolescents. It can be present at birth but show no obvious signs.
Sometimes the thyroid may release too much thyroid hormone. It can cause your body to burn energy more quickly. This condition is known as an overactive thyroid or hyperthyroidism.1
Hyperthyroidism can cause a range of symptoms. But it’s unlikely you’ll experience all of them.
Symptoms may develop gradually or appear suddenly. The severity of these symptoms may also vary for each person.5
Here are some signs of hyperthyroidism:
Congenital hyperthyroidism is rare but can be life-threatening. It’s common in babies born to mothers with Graves disease.
Graves disease is an autoimmune disorder causing overproduction of thyroid hormone or hyperthyroidism.
“Unlike hypothyroidism, high levels of thyroid hormones in newborns are temporary. It’s often caused by the passage of excess hormones from mother to child,” says Dr. Mira.
More than 95% of these babies show symptoms in their first month. Sometimes, the signs don’t appear until their second month.6
Common signs and symptoms of hyperthyroidism in infants are:
The severity of these symptoms and how soon they appear depend on whether the mother is taking antithyroid medications.
Babies born to mothers taking antithyroid medications may not show signs until the drugs are metabolized. But if the mother isn’t on medications, the newborn may show signs.
Infants born with hyperthyroidism usually recover at the age of six months. The condition rarely lasts longer.
More than 90% of hyperthyroidism cases in children and adolescents are due to Graves disease. About 80% occur during puberty when the risk of Graves is higher.6
Other causes of hyperthyroidism in children include thyroid gland inflammation, infection, or the use of certain drugs.
An overactive thyroid usually doesn’t affect puberty. But pubescent girls may experience irregular menstruation or not menstruate at all (amenorrhea).
It can also cause growth-related issues, like advanced growth and bone aging.
Other signs and symptoms of hyperthyroidism in kids and teens are:
Hyperthyroidism is described as having an overactive thyroid, causing you to burn energy quickly. 95% of babies born with hyperthyroidism show symptoms during their first month. Hyperthyroidism can affect puberty and cause growth-related issues like advanced growth and bone aging.
Women have a higher chance of developing thyroid disease than men. According to statistics, 1 out of 8 women develops a thyroid problem in her life.7
Dr. Mira explains that thyroid problems occur more in women than men because of their autoimmune nature.
Thyroid issues may cause these problems in reproductive women:
Hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism are thyroid disorders linked to the production of thyroid hormones. They occur when the thyroid gland produces too much or too few hormones. They cause a range of symptoms
Thyroid disease can be hard to diagnose based on symptoms alone. You might confuse them with other conditions with similar signs.
It’s best that you seek medical help from your doctor or a healthcare professional. They can help diagnose thyroid disorders with the proper tests.
Certain blood tests can help determine if thyroid disease is causing your symptoms. For example, a thyroid panel can check your thyroid hormone levels including:
The doctor will compare your results to the normal range of people of the same age. It can help them assess how well your thyroid gland is functioning.8
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