Potential Effects of Thyroid Problems
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Potential Effects of Thyroid Problems

More than 50,000 Americans alone have thyroid problems and many of them go undiagnosed for quite some time. Thyroid problems such as hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism have many symptoms that can cause significant health problems. Thyroid problems during pregnancy can cause problems not only for the mother, but can be potentially damaging to the unborn child, as well.

The thyroid gland is a small butterfly-shaped gland that is located in the neck, just below the thyroid cartilage, also commonly referred to as the Adam's apple. The thyroid gland produces hormones needed for proper regulation of your metabolism. Thyroid problems can occur at any age and the effects can be significant. Surprisingly, it is believed that many people suffer from thyroid problem and don't even know it. Problems with the thyroid can occur for a variety of reasons and each type of problem comes with its own set of potential effects.

Hyperthyroidism

Hyperthyroidism is a condition where the thyroid gland produces an excessive amount of hormones. Forms of hyperthyroidism like Grave's Disease, thyroiditis, tumors on the thyroid gland and drug-induced hyperthyroidism can cause a goiter in the neck, bulging eyes and thickened skin on the shins and tops of feet. Other common symptoms of hyperthyroidism include jitteriness, shaking, increased nervousness, irritability, heart palpitations, unexplained weight loss, inability to gain weight, and fatigue. Treatment often involves destroying the thyroid gland through the use of radioactive iodine (or rarely, surgery) and returning to natural and healthy levels through the use of thyroid medications. 

Hypothyroidism

Hypothyroidism is an underproduction of thyroid hormones. The most common type of hypothyroidism is called Hashimoto's thyroiditis.Common effects include thinning hair or hair loss, inability to lose weight, unexplained weight gain, constipation, dry skin, depression, memory issues, poor appetite and puffiness around the eyes. Treatment involves thyroid hormone supplemental medications.

Hypothyroidism when pregnant

Women with untreated hypothyroidism tend to have ovulary problems, which make it much more difficult to conceive. Many of the symptoms of hypothyroidism are similar to the general symptoms that occur during pregnancy, but in the event that hypothyroidism is a new occurrence and is untreated during pregnancy, it can greatly increase the chances of stillbirth, retarded fetal growth and complications with the mother. These problems can include anemia, eclampsia, and increased risk of placental abruption.

Hyperthyroidism when pregnant

Hyperthyroidism not previously diagnosed occurs in approximately one out of every 2,000 pregnancies. Similar to hypothyroidism, many of the symptoms of normal pregnancy are also found in mild hyperthyroidism. As much as 95 percent of cases of hyperthyroidism during pregnancy can be attributed to Grave's Disease. Severe cases of hyperthyroidism in pregnant women can include symptoms such as significant weight loss, vomiting, hypertension and tachycardia.

Postpartum Thyroid Disease

Postpartum thyroid disease, a type of thyroiditis, can occur in some women at an average of three to six months after pregnancy. It is also possible after a miscarriage. Postpartum thyroid disease usually begins with symptoms of hyperthyroidism, followed by symptoms of hyperthyroidism and then finally returning to normal thyroid function. Women with type one diabetes have a 25 percent chance of developing postpartum thyroid disease after pregnancy.

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