The thyroid gland is shaped like a small butterfly located in the neck, just above the trachea. This gland has a very important role in the body and is responsible for regulating the metabolism. It produces hormones that control the heart rate and the speed with which calories are burned. It also produces proteins and manages the body’s sensitivity to other hormones.
The thyroid gland can be affected by many factors which can alter its function and cause health problems. The two main types of thyroid disease are hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism. Both influence the body differently and its important to get them under control before it affects your quality of life.
Hypothyroidism is a type of thyroid disease that is caused when the thyroid gland fails to produce a sufficient amount of hormones. As a result, the metabolism slows down and the person begins to suffer a lot of health problems that affect the quality of life.
The way in which hypothyroidism affects the body varies by case and according to the degree the disease has progressed. Among the changes to the health are:
- Exhaustion or weakness
- Weight gain or obesity
- Lack of appetite
- Changes to the menstrual cycle
- Lack of sexual desire
- Feeling cold
- Muscle aches
- Swelling around the eyes
- Brittle nails
- Hair loss
Hypothyroidism is the most common thyroid disease and mainly affects women. In addition to the above symptoms, it can also cause dry skin, intolerance to cold, poor memory or problems concentrating. In more severe cases, it can cause a deterioration in the function of the heart, kidneys, liver, etc. Whichever the case, it’s very important to consult your doctor and seek treatment.
Hyperthyroidism is the opposite. It occurs when the thyroid gland produces an excess of hormones and greatly increases the metabolic rate. Although the idea of a higher metabolism might appeal to those wanting to lose weight, the disorder can cause serious health problems.
As with hypothyroidism, the way in which it impacts the body varies by case and the symptoms that appear depend on the stage of the disease. Symptoms of hyperthyroidism include:
- Weight loss
- Accelerated heart rate
- Increased perspiration
- Feeling hot
- Changes in the menstrual cycle
- More frequent bowel movements
In some cases, the person suffering from hyperthyroidism may experience symptoms like fever, accelerated heart rate, changes in mental functioning, like confusion, convulsions, restlessness and coma.
Thyroid disease and quality of life
Whichever thyroid disease you may be suffering from, it is very important to consult your doctor for a diagnosis and to get treated. Thyroid disease can gradually interfere with your quality of life, until it begins to seriously affect your health and prevent your from performing your normal daily activities.
In the case of hypothyroidism, it’s very important to completely change your habits and adopt a healthy lifestyle to control the disease, especially weight gain. Proper nutrition and a healthy diet play an important role.
Hyperthyroidism requires a special diet from a nutritionist which limits iodine intake, which is used by the thyroid gland to manufacture hormones.
Thyroid specialists warn that there is no concrete way to prevent either type of thyroid disease. However, they insist that a balanced diet, exercise, and healthy habits can be an important factor in reducing the risk of thyroid problems in the future. Once thyroid disease is diagnosed, it’s important to follow your doctor’s recommendations to prevent serious changes in the body.