Know the main signs and that suggest the existence of some defect in the functioning of the thyroid gland.

Thyroid hormones are essential for the development of children’s nervous system and for controlling metabolic activities in adults, affecting the function of virtually every organ in our body. Diseases of the thyroid gland are the most common medical practice.

In this text we will explain the malfunctioning thyroid symptoms and the differences between hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism.

Before going any further, here is an important explanation: Thyroid (or thyroid) is an organ and not a disease. It is very common to hear people say they have thyroid, as if this is a health problem. Well, thyroid everybody has, it’s an organ like the kidneys, heart, pancreas … Saying “I have thyroid” or “I’m with thyroid” is the same as saying “I have a brain” or “I have liver “. To make some sense, it is necessary to say what the thyroid problem is, such as “I have hypothyroidism,” “I have thyroid problems,” or “I have a thyroid that works badly.”


The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland located at the base of the neck, in front of the trachea and just below the thyroid cartilage (better known as the Adam’s apple). The thyroid gland produces two hormones called triiodothyronine and thyroxine, better known as T3 and T4, respectively. These hormones are responsible for the body’s metabolism, that is, the way the body stores and expends energy.

When the thyroid works too much and produces too much hormones, we call it hyperthyroidism. When it works poorly or when it no longer exists because it has been surgically removed due to a tumor, we call it hypothyroidism.

Reinforcing the concept:

– Hyperthyroidism = disease caused by overproduction of thyroid hormones.

– Hypothyroidism = disease caused by insufficient production of thyroid hormones.


A) Symptoms of hypothyroidism

The lack of thyroid hormones, which is hypothyroidism, slows down our metabolism and can cause the following signs and symptoms:

  • Increased thyroid volume, called goiter.
  • Weakness, discouragement and easy fatigue.
  • Cold intolerance.
  • Decrease in sweating.
  • Hair loss (read: CALVICIE | FALL HAIR | Causes and treatment).
  • Light weight gain (hypothyroidism does not lead to large weight gains).
  • Dry skin.
  • Weak nails.
  • Joint pain.
  • Reduction of taste.
  • Anemia (read: ANEMIA | Symptoms and causes).
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (read: CARPAL TUNNEL SYNDROME | Symptoms and Treatment).
  • Intestinal constipation (constipation).
  • Increased cholesterol (read: HDL cholesterol, LDL cholesterol and triglycerides).
  • Menstruation changes (for more or less).
  • Infertility.
  • Erectile dysfunction (read: SEXUAL IMPOTENCE Causes and treatment).
  • Loss of libido.
  • Reduction of eyebrow hairs.
  • Hypertension (read: ARTERIAL HYPERTENSION | Symptoms and Treatment).
  • Swelling (in more severe cases).
  • Eat (in severe and untreated cases).
  • For more details on the symptoms of hypothyroidism, read: SYMPTOMS OF HYPOTHYROIDISM AND HYPOTHYROIDISM (HASHIMOTO THYROIDITE).

B) Symptoms of hyperthyroidism

Already excess hormones, called hyperthyroidism, can cause the following signs and symptoms:

Increased thyroid volume, called goiter (can occur in both hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism).

  • Excess sweat even in not so hot places.
  • Heat intolerance.
  • Weakness of the nails.
  • Generalized itching.
  • Skin flushed and damp.
  • Hair thinner and weaker.
  • Muscle weakness.
  • Ocular proptosis (bulging eyes).
  • Palpitations and cardiac arrhythmias, especially atrial fibrillation (read: ATRIAL FIBRILLATION).
  • Low cholesterol, especially HDL cholesterol.
  • Hypertension.
  • Increased blood glucose.
  • Digital clubbing (enlargement of the fingertips).
  • Tiredness during exertion.
  • Changes in menstruation (read: 15 CAUSES FOR LONG-TERM MENSTRUATION).
  • Diarrhea (read: DIARRHEA | Causes and treatment).
  • Anemia.
  • Increased daily urine volume.
  • Weight loss.
  • Increased thirst and hunger.
  • Osteoporosis (read: OSTEOPOROSIS and Symptoms and Treatment).
  • Irritability and anxiety.
  • Depression (read: SYMPTOMS OF DEPRESSION).
  • Amnesia.
  • Insomnia (read: INSÔNIA | Causes and Treatment).
  • Difficulty concentrating.
  • Tremors of the hands.
  • For more details on hyperthyroidism, read: HYPERTIREOIDISM AND SERIOUS DISEASE


Goiter is enlarged thyroid, which can be noticed as a bulging in the anterior region of the neck. It can occur in hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism.

Goiter was a very common sign up to the early 20th century due to iodine deficiency in the diet (iodine is a necessary element for the formation of thyroid hormones). From the middle of the last century, iodine was added to cooking salt, and since then its deficiency has ceased to be a common cause of goiter and thyroid diseases.

However, thyroid diseases that are not related to lack of iodine, such as Hashimoto’s thyroiditis and Graves’ disease, can also be seen with goiters, especially if they are not well controlled.

In most cases, goiter is just an aesthetic problem. Nowadays, with current treatments for thyroid diseases, the thyroid gland hardly grows large enough to form a large goiter, which obstructs neck structures, leading to symptoms such as shortness of breath, coughing, hoarseness, or difficulty swallowing . For goiter to cause symptoms of obstruction of the organs of the neck, it has to be very large.


The main causes of hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism are autoimmune diseases (those in which the body improperly produces antibodies against itself – read: AUTOIMUNE DISEASE), highlighting Graves’ Disease in hyperthyroidism and Hashimoto’s disease in hypothyroidism. Surgical removal of the thyroid, or its destruction by radioactive iodine, are also common causes of hypothyroidism.

The diagnosis, in general, is done with blood tests, through the measurement of the hormones TSH and free T4. In the texts on hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism we explain in more detail the effects of TSH on the thyroid.

The treatment is done with hormone replacement in hypothyroidism, or with drugs that inhibit their production in hyperthyroidism.

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