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While women are more prone to thyroid disorder, men can also get affected by this disorder. Watch out for unexplained weight gain, excessive fatigue, swelling of the thyroid gland as they point to a thyroid disorder.
It is a misconception that thyroid disorders occur only in women. Statistics do show that thyroid problems occur more often in women. Though it is occasional, there are some thyroid symptoms that are specific to men.
The misconception exists because thyroid disorders are autoimmune in nature, which means that your own immune system recognizes thyroid secretions as foreign, and hence, attacks the thyroid cells. In general, autoimmune diseases occur mostly in females.
As the old saying goes, “Prevention is better than cure.” There are various kinds of thyroid disorders that affect men and there are some signs and symptoms which you can look out for.
What is a thyroid disorder?
The thyroid gland is an endocrine gland, which means it releases various hormones into the blood which affect some aspect of growth and development. It is located in the front of your neck and is often described as being in the shape of a bowtie.
Thyroid disorders have two general classifications: hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism. Hypothyroidism is when the thyroid gland is not active enough, whereas hyperthyroidism occurs when the thyroid is overactive.
Causes of disorder
Though thyroid disorders are less common in men, research has found some common causes of such disorders in men. These causes include:
- Hashimoto’s Disease is a medical condition that leads to the inflammation of the thyroid gland. This, in turn, causes hypothyroidism.
- Graves’ Disease is a medical condition that causes overactivity of the thyroid gland, leading to hyperthyroidism. It is less common in men, unlike Hashimoto’s disease.
- Lower testosterone levels are one of the most common causes.
- Selenium is an enzyme which protects the thyroid from damage. A deficiency in selenium may also be a cause of thyroid disorders in men.
- Thyroid disorders have a genetic component. Having parents with a thyroid disorder, especially fathers, can be a reason for the disorder occurring.
Signs of thyroid disorder
There are several indicators or signs which can be looked for in thyroid disease in men, specifically. Such signs and symptoms include:
- Some common symptoms of Hashimoto’s disease include fatigue, unusual weight gain, sensitivity to cold, loss of hair and muscle and joint pain.
- Though Graves’ disease is less common in men, some signs to look out for are mood changes, anxiety, unexpected weight loss, sensitivity to heat and erectile dysfunction.
- A common symptom of hypothyroidism is a slowed metabolism, which leads to unexpected weight gain in men. To get back to your normal weight, consult with Truweight’s weight loss experts, with just one click!
- Goitre, the swelling of the thyroid gland is also a common symptom.
- Development of an intolerance to cold is another sign. Since the metabolism in the body has slowed down, the body temperature falls, and regulation of temperature becomes difficult.
- In men, hypothyroidism leads to a decline in libido and erectile dysfunction. In a study, 64% of male participants have shown these symptoms.
- Sudden mood changes, irritability, anxiety, and aggression are also regarded as signs of thyroid disorders.
- The slowing down of metabolism may also affect cognition. Men may experience memory loss, loss of attention, and a decrease in perceptual speed.
- Hair loss and dry skin are also common symptoms. Due to the slowing down of metabolism, blood flow decreases, it becomes difficult for the body to produce new cells and certain nutrient levels required for healthy skin and hair also decrease.
- Muscle pain is a fairly common symptom of hypothyroidism. A change in nutrient and enzyme levels may cause, muscle pain, joint pain, stiffness and carpal tunnel.
- High cholesterol is very common in hypothyroidism patients. The body cannot remove the cholesterol from the body due to slowed metabolism, which leads to a high cholesterol problem.
- Constipation is also a common factor caused due to reduced gut motility.
Now that you know what kind of factors affect thyroid diseases and the signs of thyroid disorders, there are some basic thyroid care steps which can be taken to improve your health:
- Regular blood tests to keep a check on hormones levels in the body.
- A balanced diet that includes fewer hypothyroidism triggering foods like soy products, gluten, and cruciferous vegetables.
- Keep an eye on cholesterol levels and try to limit the intake of unhealthy fats.
- Ask your doctor for supplements, like selenium and vitamin D.
- Reduce exposure to certain environmental toxins which are bad for thyroid health, including perfluorinated chemicals, which are stain and water repellent chemicals, generally found in products like non-stick cookware.
What happens if thyroid disorder is left untreated?
Hypothyroidism can lead to a host of new problems if not treated properly. This includes goiter, cardiac problems, high cholesterol, myxedema, depression, decreased libido and impairment in cognitive functioning.
What tests can be done to determine whether or not a person has a thyroid disorder?
There are several tests which can be done if a person suspects a problem. These blood tests will measure thyroid functioning. Some of them include thyroid ultrasound, free T3, TSH and free T4.
Is stress a cause of thyroid disorder?
Hypothyroidism is known to be caused by prolonged and severe levels of stress. Stress causes a flood of hormones in your body and brings about a change in glucose levels. These hormones may impact the thyroid function.
Can being exposed to radiation cause thyroid disorder?
Studies have shown that a prolonged exposure to radiation in the environment may cause hypothyroidism.
What does the treatment of hypothyroidism involve?
Since the thyroid is an endocrine gland, the treatment will generally involve hormone medications, to improve the hormone deficiency and bring the thyroid back up to normal functioning. Doctors may also recommend taking some vitamin supplements, as hypothyroidism affects nutrient levels in the body which causes hair loss, dry skin, and muscle pain.
Though it is not possible to know whether or not you may develop thyroid disorders, it is always best to be prepared by knowing exactly what thyroid disorders are, their causes, and signs and symptoms. This will aid you in not only looking out for yourself but also for your loved ones.