Hormones are produced in various glands throughout your body and are like chemical messengers that travel through your bloodstream, target specific tissues, and trigger a response. Different hormones have different jobs, but they all regulate your behaviors, such as mood and sexual desire, as well as physiological processes, like how you grow and reproduce.
Your thyroid gland, found just under your Adam’s apple in your throat, secretes thyroid hormones that regulate your metabolism — how your body converts food to energy. Like all hormones, thyroid hormones rely on a delicate balance to perform their roles, so if anything tips the scales and you end up with too much or not enough of these critical chemicals, your body doesn’t function properly and you’re at risk for various health issues.
Recognizing the symptoms of thyroid problems can be tricky, but Dr. Bhavani Jeereddy at Kenilworth Primary Care understands thyroid conditions well. She can diagnose the cause of disruption in your thyroid hormone production and treat the source of the problem to restore your normal metabolic function. The most common conditions that affect your thyroid fall under two categories — hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism.
Your thyroid makes several types of hormones, including thyroxine. If something causes your thyroid to go into overdrive and manufacture too much thyroxine, you have hyperthyroidism, and you may notice any of the following symptoms:
- Rapid or irregular heartbeat
- Unintentional weight loss, but an increased appetite
- Unexplained perspiration
These are just a few of the possible signs of hyperthyroidism, and they are easily mistaken for symptoms of other conditions. That’s why it’s important to come and see Dr. Jeereddy for a thorough examination.
Once she determines that you have hyperthyroidism, she investigates the possible causes, including:
- Graves disease: an autoimmune disorder where antibodies trigger your thyroid to pump out too much thyroxine
- Thyroiditis: inflammation of the thyroid that causes excess hormones to leak out into your bloodstream
- Thyroid nodules: benign lumps that enlarge the thyroid and trigger an increase in thyroxine production
To find out exactly what’s causing your thyroid to overproduce, Dr. Jeereddy tests your hormone levels, scans your thyroid, and uses ultrasound technology.
Hypothyroidism, the opposite of hyperthyroidism, occurs when your thyroid doesn’t produce enough hormones. Although hypothyroidism is most common in older women, it can happen to anybody at any age. In fact, infants can be born with thyroid hormone deficiencies, and you may notice they have jaundice, trouble breathing, their cry sounds hoarse, their tongue is abnormally large and may protrude, or they have an umbilical hernia.
Children and teens who get hypothyroidism experience developmental delays in puberty, an eruption of permanent teeth, musculoskeletal growth, and mental skills.
Adults who develop hypothyroidism often report:
- Weakness and fatigue
- Unexplained weight gain
- Slow heart rate
- Feeling cold often
- Thinning hair, puffy face, and dry skin
- High cholesterol levels
Again, these symptoms overlap with the symptoms of other conditions, so self-diagnosing isn’t recommended. Dr. Jeereddy runs medical tests such as blood analysis, radioiodine uptake, ultrasound, and a thyroid scan to determine the cause of your hypothyroidism and develop a treatment plan.
Hypothyroidism typically stems from goiter, an enlarged thyroid. Here are a few of the conditions that lead to goiters:
- Hashimoto’s disease: an autoimmune disorder
- Nodules (which can cause hyper- or hypothyroidism)
- Thyroid cancer
- Exposure to radiation
Whatever’s causing your enlarged thyroid and your waning hormones, Dr. Jeereddy can treat it or refer you to a specialist.
Stabilizing your thyroid hormones
Depending on the underlying condition, your hyper- or hypothyroidism may be treatable with medications and lifestyle changes. If you have thyroid cancer, radiation therapy is often the best way to combat it, and surgery to remove part or all of your thyroid gland may be necessary.
Supplemental thyroid hormones can stabilize your hypothyroidism, and you may need to take them daily to maintain optimal levels.
If you suspect an imbalance in your thyroid hormones, contact us at our Kenilworth, New Jersey office at 908-276-9595, or book a consultation with Dr. Jeereddy online. We also offer telehealth appointments if you’d rather “meet” from the comfort of your own home.