Premium Care Internal Medicine
Internists located in Santa Barbara, CA
Thyroid problems have a significant impact on your energy level, cause changes in your weight, and can lead to health concerns like high cholesterol. Dr. Brittany Bryan at Premium Care Internal Medicine offers expert diagnosis and treatment of under and overactive thyroid. If you’ve noticed symptoms that may be related to thyroid problems, don’t hesitate to contact our office in Santa Barbara, California, for more information or to schedule a consultation.
Thyroid Problems Q & A
What does the thyroid gland do?
The thyroid gland regulates metabolism, growth, and diverse body functions by releasing several hormones. One of the hormones, calcitonin, affects calcium and bone metabolism.
The two thyroid hormones that control your metabolism, commonly called T3 and T4, affect nearly every cell in your body, impacting your:
- Heart rate
- Body weight
- Muscle strength
- Cholesterol levels
- Nervous system
- Body temperature
What are the symptoms of hypothyroidism?
Hypothyroidism occurs when the thyroid gland doesn’t produce enough thyroid hormones. It’s caused by several underlying conditions, such as autoimmune disease and chronic inflammation. Certain medications can also lead to hypothyroidism.
Symptoms often develop gradually, so you may have an underactive thyroid for a while before consulting a physician. Lack of thyroid hormones slows down metabolism, causing symptoms such as:
- Weight gain
- Dry skin and hair
- Trouble sleeping
- Intolerance to cold temperatures
- Joint or muscle pain
- Frequent, heavy menstrual periods
What are the symptoms of hyperthyroidism?
Hyperthyroidism develops when your thyroid gland produces and releases too much thyroid hormone. This condition may be caused by an enlarged thyroid gland, consumption of too much iodine, or thyroid nodules.
As excess thyroid hormone speeds up your metabolism, you experience symptoms such as:
- Increased appetite
- Weight loss
- Rapid or irregular heartbeat
- Thinning skin
- Dry, brittle hair
- Heat sensitivity
- Nervousness, anxiety, irritability
- Tremor in hands and fingers
- Vision problems or eye irritation
- Enlarged thyroid gland
- Infrequent, scant menstrual periods
How are thyroid problems treated?
The standard treatment for hypothyroidism consists of hormone replacement to bring levels back to normal. Symptoms are reversed as thyroid hormones are restored.
Treatment for hyperthyroidism is often more complex, and the best choice depends on your age, health, and the severity of the disorder. Options for treating hyperthyroidism include:
- Radioactive iodine, which causes the gland to shrink, alleviating symptoms
- Anti-thyroid medications, which reduce symptoms by preventing the gland from releasing excessive hormones
- Surgery to remove thyroid, which is only used in rare cases and requires lifelong thyroid hormone replacement
- Beta blockers, which treat heart symptoms caused by hyperthyroidism
Thyroid problems are like other chronic diseases — once they develop, they’re considered to be a lifelong disorder that can’t be cured. With a proper management plan and close monitoring of thyroid hormone levels, though, you can regain your health.