Thyroid problems affect the thyroid, a gland in the neck that helps control many of the body’s most important functions.
If your thyroid becomes overactive (hyperthyroidism), underactive (hypothyroidism), or cancerous, you could experience a range of health problems.
Once diagnosed, however, thyroid problems can usually be treated effectively.
What is the thyroid?
The thyroid is a gland in the neck, near the base of the throat.
The thyroid gland makes hormones that help control many of the body’s metabolic processes, such as heart rate, blood pressure, body temperature and weight.
What type of thyroid problems are there?
The main types of thyroid problems are:
- Hyperthyroidism — this is when your thyroid makes too much thyroid hormone. The most common symptoms of hyperthyroidism are weight loss, agitation and nervousness, heat intolerance, heart palpitations or rapid heartbeat and becoming tired doing ordinary activities.
- Hypothyroidism — this is when your thyroid does not make enough thyroid hormone. Hypothyroidism can go on for years without showing any signs. When symptoms do appear, they can be quite varied and can include fatigue, increased sensitivity to cold, constipation, dry skin, weight gain, thinning hair, poor memory and depression.
- Thyroid cancer — this is when some of your thyroid cells become cancerous. Thyroid cancer is more common in women than in men and is usually diagnosed in people’s fifties. It can usually be treated successfully.
Other thyroid problems include nodules that grow in the thyroid, an inflamed thyroid, and an enlarged thyroid (goitre).
Because the thyroid gland plays an important role in controlling many of your body’s functions, when it’s not functioning as it should, serious health problems can result. If you think you may have a thyroid problem, it’s important to see your doctor.
Last reviewed: November 2018