Side Effects of Thyroid Problems

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The thyroid gland, part of the endocrine system, is responsible for controlling many functions of the body. In addition to regulating hormone production and sensitivity throughout the body, the thyroid also controls the production of proteins and body’s use of energy. When an individual is experiencing thyroid problems, it can cause a motley host of side effects that manifest across bodily systems.

Type of Thyroid Problems

The two most common forms of thyroid problems are hyper- and hypothyroidism. Hyperthyroidism occurs when the thyroid gland becomes overactive, causing hormone secretion and metabolism to increase throughout the body, and hypothyroidism occurs when thyroid production slows. Both conditions can be caused by myriad factors, ranging from genetic predisposition to major hormonal events like pregnancy. Both conditions cause side effects in the same areas of the body, although the side effects tend to be opposite.

Temperature Sensitivity

Sensitivity to temperature is a common side effect of thyroid problems. The thyroid gland controls the metabolism, which is the effectively the body’s energy source. When thyroid function is increased, the processing of energy increases, causing overall body temperature to rise, while a decrease in thyroid function will result in a slowed metabolism and therefore a slight decrease in body temperature. This means that individuals with hyperthyroidism sweat more and are more intolerant of heat as a side effect of the problems, while an individual with hypothyroidism will feel cold in circumstances where people with normal thyroid function are fine.

Digestive Regularity

Another side effect of thyroid problems is a change in digestive regularity. The increase in protein production and hormone secretion will speed up the digestive process in individuals who have an overactive thyroid, making frequent bowel movements and diarrhea a common side effect. However, those who have slowed thyroid function will notice constipation and bloating as side effects of their thyroid problems.

Sleep Alterations

As thyroid activity increases, individuals with hyperthyroidism notice insomnia, or a decreased need for sleep as a side effect of their condition. The increase in energy and hormones will create a “wired” feeling similar to a strong caffeine high, that results in only several hours of deep sleep over several days. Conversely, an individual who is suffering from hypothyroidism will shift into hibernation mode due to the slowed metabolism, and find that they sleep 12 to 16 hours a day as a side effect of their condition.

Weight Changes

When metabolism, or the utilization of energy, increases, the body begins to rely on energy stored as fat to feed the internal furnace. Individuals with overactive thyroids will see this increase in metabolism manifest the side effect of rapid and unintentional weight loss. However, in patients with slowed thyroid function the opposite effect will be the case. As metabolism slows, the body begins to store a greater percentage of ingested energy as fat, resulting in rapid weight gain as a side effect of thyroid problems.

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