This Tiny Gland Can Be at the Root of Big Health Problems

Located below the Adam’s apple and over the trachea, the butterfly-shaped thyroid gland is one of those body parts that no one thinks about – even when it’s acting up.

Yet thyroid disease is actually very common, with an estimated 20 to 25 million Americans currently receiving treatment. Thyroid disease is also five to seven times more common in women than in men, but the reason for this is not yet known. The good news is that thyroid disorders are easily diagnosed through simple blood tests.

The incidence of thyroid disease increases with age, most commonly occurring in women in their 30s to 50s. It is important to know that the onset of thyroid disease is often subtle. It tends to present gradually and in very subtle ways. Therefore, its symptoms are often ignored or attributed to other causes like menopause or minor health problems.

Symptoms of thyroid disease can include:

  • Fatique
  • High blood pressure
  • Nervousness
  • Heat intolerance
  • Shakiness
  • Diarrhea or constipation
  • Significant weight gain or weight loss
  • High cholesterol
  • Excessive sweating
  • Racing heart
  • Dry skin
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome


Two Types of Thyroid Disease

There are two main types of thyroid disease, and treatment depends upon which type you have. Most patients have hypothyroidism, which occurs when the thyroid does not produce sufficient thyroid hormone. It is generally treated with medications.

Much less common is hyperthyroidism, when the thyroid is overactive and produces too much hormone. A number of medications are available treat this condition as well.

There are also several treatable endocrine diseases, such as Hashimoto’s disease, which can cause problems with the thyroid.

The Draelos Metabolic Center team is experienced in diagnosis and treatment of these and other endocrine issues.

Draelos Metabolic Center is Here to Help with Thyroid Issues

The fact is, thyroid disease is very common, easily diagnosed and treated. That means no one should have to suffer these side effects and compromise their overall health.  If you have symptoms you suspect may be related to your thyroid, please call to schedule an appointment with our team of caring, health care specialists today.


Hashimoto’s and Grave’s Disease

thyroid disease Hashimoto’s and Grave’s Disease are two autoimmune thyroid diseases. Autoimmune diseases occur when the body's immune system attacks and damages healthy tissue.  In the case of Hashimoto's and Graves disease the healthy thyroid gland that produces hormones that coordinate many body activities is the target.  

Hashimoto’s disease, also known as chronic lymphocytic thyroditis, causes hypothyroidism, which is an underactive thyroid gland. In the U.S., Hashimoto's is the most common reason for hypothyroidism occurring most often in middle aged women though it can occur in anyone at any age.

Grave’s Disease causes hyperthyroidism, which is an overactive thyroid gland. In Grave' disease the antibody thyrotropin receptor antibody (TRAb) mimics the action of the regulatory pituitary hormone that governs thyroid function resulting in excessive production of thyroid hormones.  Grave's disease may also affect anyone but is most often diagnosed in women under age 40.

Symptoms of Hashimoto’s Disease

The symptoms of Hashimoto’s Disease are often understated and difficult to detect.  They are non-specific, meaning that could easily be signs of other conditions or simply aging.  Symptoms start off mild and slowly increase in severity without treatment.

The symptoms are:

  • Fatigue
  • Depression
  • Modest weight gain (rarely more than 10-20 pounds)
  • Cold intolerance
  • Excessive sleepiness
  • Dry, coarse hair
  • Constipation
  • Dry skin
  • Muscle aches and joint stiffness
  • Increased cholesterol levels
  • Decreased concentration
  • Vague aches and pains
  • Swelling of the legs

Severe life-threatening complications of Hashimoto's disease are extremely rare and occur when the disease is left untreated for an extended period of time.  Heart problems, mental health issues, enlarged thyroid gland (goiter) and birth defects are possible complications of untreated disease.

Treatment for Hashimoto’s Disease

Replacement of the hormones that the thyroid loses with thyroid medications is the treatment for Hashimoto's. Ultrasound monitoring of an enlarged thyroid gland or thyroid nodules and routine blood tests to monitor thyroid levels are needed.

Symptoms of Grave’s Disease

Often confused with other diseases, the symptoms of Grave’s Disease can occur slowly or all-of-a-sudden.

The symptoms are:

  • Goiter (enlarged thyroid)
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Irritability, nervousness or anxiety
  • Heat sensitivity, increased sweating
  • Hand tremors
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Thinning of skin or fine, brittle hair
  • Frequent bowel movements
  • Weight loss without dieting
  • Fatigue or muscle weakness
  • Lighter menstrual flow and less frequent periods
  • Problems getting pregnant

Grave's ophthalmopathy occurs in about 50% of people with the disease. These are symptoms that specifically affect the eyes including bulging eyes, irritated eyes, feelings of puffiness or pressure in the eyes, limited eye movements (fixed stare) or vision disturbances such as light sensitivity or double vision. Graves's dermopathy is a rare and unique symptom where the skin on the shins and top of the feet becomes red and thick.

Treatment for Grave’s Disease

Treatment is designed to reduce thyroid hormone production and block the effects of thyroid hormones. There are three treatments for Grave's disease:

  • Medication—Methimazole or MMI (Brand name: Tapazole) and Propylthiouracil (PTU)
  • Radioactive iodine (RAI)
  • Surgery—Part or all of the thyroid is removed if other treatments cannot be used or are not effective.  Post surgery most people will need thyroid hormone replacement.

Reaching a diagnosis of Hashimoto’s or Grave’s Disease can be a frustrating process, however once a diagnosis is made treatment is very effective and a healthy active lifestyle is a very real expectation.  Once your treatment is stable you may only see your healthcare provider 1-2 times a year.  It is important to remember that Hashimoto's and Grave's disease are chronic conditions that are managed but do not fully disappear.  Routine and continual medical care is important because if left unchecked there can be serious complications.