Skip to main content

How Do I Know if My Thyroid Isn't Functioning Properly?

A butterfly-shaped gland at the base of the neck, the thyroid makes hormones that control your body’s metabolism. 

Thyroid hormones have a narrow window of balance. If this gland produces too much or too little, your body may respond with a wide range of symptoms that are sometimes hard to trace back to the thyroid since they can be caused by many other problems, too. 

As specialists in thyroid disorders, the team at Lawrence Otolaryngology Associates can help you make sense of the symptoms. We diagnose your thyroid disorder and work with you to develop an effective treatment plan. We’ve prepared this primer to help you recognize the signs of thyroid dysfunction. 

The energy manager

The primary function of the thyroid is metabolism control. Hormones serve as your body’s chemical messengers, and the speed of your metabolism depends on the signals the hormones receive from the thyroid. When the thyroid produces too many or too few hormones, thyroid disease develops. 

A range of conditions emerges when the thyroid malfunctions. We’ll outline a few of the most common, with symptoms below. While the presence or absence of symptoms can’t give you a conclusive diagnosis, they can be enough to indicate the need for medical advice to check for thyroid disorders. 

Hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism

A thyroid problem tends to cause one of two conditions. When your thyroid underproduces hormones, it’s called hypothyroidism. Other problems cause hyperthyroidism, where too much thyroid hormone enters your system. The two conditions have some symptoms in common and others distinct to themselves. 

Hypothyroidism

When your body has too little thyroid production, you may experience: 

Hyperthyroidism

Too much thyroid hormone brings on symptoms like: 

Hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism are, themselves, sometimes symptoms of thyroid conditions. 

Graves’ disease

The most common cause of hyperthyroidism, Graves’ disease, features symptoms of that condition as well as: 

Graves’ disease is an autoimmune disorder that attacks the thyroid gland. 

Hashimoto’s thyroiditis

Another autoimmune disease, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, is the most frequent cause of hypothyroidism. It creates additional symptoms like: 

Hashimoto’s thyroiditis can strike anyone, but it tends to favor women in middle age. 

Thyroid nodules

Growths on the thyroid also tend to favor women, and they can be caused by Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. The risk of nodules increases as you age. The presence of iodine in salt and other foods tends to keep thyroid nodules under control in the United States and other countries considered to be iodine sufficient. 

Nodules are usually benign without causing symptoms, though sometimes they’re large enough to feel. In rare cases, they can cause swelling of the neck and problems with breathing and swallowing. Sometimes, nodules increase hormone production, resulting in hyperthyroidism. 

Goiter

Goiter is a non-cancerous enlargement of the thyroid, and it’s also limited by iodine consumption. Mild cases may be asymptomatic. If the enlargement is out of control, goiter causes similar problems to oversized nodules. 

When you suspect you have symptoms that might be thyroid related, call Lawrence Otolaryngology Associates in Lawrence or Ottawa to schedule a consultation. Our head and neck specialists are standing by to help you, so book your visit now.

You Might Also Enjoy...

Who Should Have Skin Cancer Screening, and How Often?

Who Should Have Skin Cancer Screening, and How Often?

The ultraviolet (UV) radiation you receive from the sun causes damage to your skin cells, disrupting the DNA within and causing changes that may lead to cancer. People with elevated risk for skin cancer should be screened promptly and regularly.

Why You Shouldn't Ignore Your Child's Ear Pain

Though ear infections are a frequent childhood illness, they’re not an ailment to be disregarded as a harmless part of growing up. Ear infections can heal on their own, but serious complications could arise as a result.

5 Common Signs of Vertigo

One of the most common symptoms that prompts people to visit a physician is dizziness. Also called vertigo, it’s as prevalent among patients’ complaints as back pain or headaches, affecting up to about 20% of adults in the United States.
Facial Pain and Sinusitis: How Are They Connected?

Facial Pain and Sinusitis: How Are They Connected?

The common cold is a viral infection that often causes a condition called sinusitis. You may experience pain or tenderness around your nose, eyes, and forehead while sinusitis is active. Facial pain is a key symptom of sinusitis.
Two Types of Hearing Loss: Which Do You Have?

Two Types of Hearing Loss: Which Do You Have?

There are two primary types of hearing loss, and it’s perhaps easiest to think of these as mechanical and electronic. It’s also possible to have a hearing issue that combines elements of the two.