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There are many different types of thyroid disorders that can cause weight loss. Find out which one may be responsible for your weight loss and what you can do about it.
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The Three Types of Thyroid Disease
There are three types of thyroid disease: Hashimoto’s disease, Graves’ disease, and thyroiditis. Hashimoto’s disease is the most common type of thyroid disease. It is an autoimmune disorder that attacks the thyroid gland, causing it to become inflamed and damaged. This can lead to a decrease in thyroid hormone production, which can cause weight loss.
Hashimoto’s disease is an autoimmune disorder that results in the destruction of the thyroid gland. Hashimoto’s disease is the most common form of thyroiditis, and it is the most common cause of hypothyroidism in the United States. The exact cause of Hashimoto’s disease is unknown, but it is thought to be due to a combination of genetic and environmental factors.
Hashimoto’s disease can occur at any age, but it is most common in middle-aged women. Hashimoto’s disease is more common in people with a family history of autoimmune diseases, such as type 1 diabetes or rheumatoid arthritis. People with other autoimmune diseases, such as celiac disease or Graves’ disease, are also at increased risk for Hashimoto’s disease.
There are a variety of symptoms associated with Hashimoto’s disease, but the most common is fatigue. Other symptoms can include weight gain, cold intolerance, muscle aches and pains, joint pain, constipation, depression, and irritability. Many people with Hashimoto’s disease also have goiters (enlarged thyroid glands).
Hashimoto’s disease is diagnosed with blood tests that measure levels of thyroid hormones and antibodies. Treatment for Hashimoto’s disease typically involves taking levothyroxine (a synthetic form of thyroid hormone) to replace the hormones that are not being produced by the thyroid gland.
Graves’ disease is named after Robert J. Graves, an Irish physician who first described the condition in 1835. It is an autoimmune disorder that results in the overproduction of thyroid hormones (hyperthyroidism). Graves’ disease can also cause changes in the appearance of your eyes and skin.
The most common symptom of Graves’ disease is hyperthyroidism, which can cause a number of problems, including:
-An irregular or rapid heartbeat
There are four main types of thyroid cancer: papillary, follicular, medullary, and anaplastic.
-Papillary thyroid cancer is the most common type of thyroid cancer, accounting for around 80% to 85% of all cases. It often affects people in their 40s and 50s, and is more common in women than men.
-Follicular thyroid cancer is the second most common type of thyroid cancer, accounting for around 10% to 15% of all cases. It often affects people in their 50s and 60s, and is more common in women than men.
-Medullary thyroid cancer is a rare type of thyroid cancer that accounts for around 3% to 5% of all cases. It often affects people in their 60s and 70s, and is more common in women than men.
-Anaplastic thyroid cancer is a rare type of thyroid cancer that accounts for around 2% of all cases. It often affects people in their 70s and 80s, and is more common in men than women.
Symptoms of Thyroid Disease
There are many different types of thyroid disease that can cause weight loss. The most common type is Hashimoto’s disease, which is an autoimmune disorder that attacks the thyroid. Other types of thyroid disease include Graves’ disease, which is an overactive thyroid, and thyroid cancer.
One of the most common symptoms of thyroid disease is fatigue. This can be accompanied by lethargy, sleepiness, and overall feelings of weakness. If you have thyroid disease, you may also find it difficult to concentrate or focus on tasks, and you may experience memory problems.
There are many different symptoms of thyroid disease, and weight loss is one of them. However, not all thyroid conditions cause weight loss. In fact, some can actually cause weight gain. So, which thyroid disorder causes weight loss?
The most common cause of weight loss in people with thyroid disease is Graves’ disease. Graves’ disease is an autoimmune disorder that affects the thyroid gland. It is the most common cause of hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid), and can result in a number of symptoms, including weight loss.
Other causes of weight loss in people with thyroid disease include Hashimoto’s disease and thyrotoxicosis. Hashimoto’s disease is an autoimmune disorder that affects the thyroid gland, and can result in hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid). Thyrotoxicosis, on the other hand, is a condition that occurs when there is too much thyroxine (a hormone produced by the thyroid gland) in the body. Thyrotoxicosis can be caused by Graves’ disease, as well as other conditions such as certain types of goiters and cancers.
One common symptom of both hypo- and hyperthyroidism is muscle weakness, though it manifests differently in the two diseases. In hypothyroidism, muscles become large and bulky as they retain water and swell. This can lead to joint pain and stiffness as well as overall fatigue. In contrast, in hyperthyroidism, muscles can become smaller and weaker as the body breaks them down for energy. This can cause cramps, trembling and difficulties with coordination.
One symptom of hypothyroidism is difficulty concentrating. This can manifest as brain fog, or feeling like you can’t think straight. Many people with hypothyroidism say that they have difficulty reading and retaining information.
Hyperthyroidism can also make it hard to concentrate. The difference is that with hyperthyroidism, the symptoms are typically more severe and tend to come on suddenly. With hypothyroidism, the symptoms tend to develop slowly over time.
Increased sensitivity to cold
Cold intolerance is a well-known symptom of hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid). People who have this condition often feel cold all the time, even when others around them are comfortable. They may also notice that they are more sensitive to cold temperatures than they used to be.
Other symptoms of hypothyroidism can include fatigue, weight gain, muscle weakness, dry skin and hair, and constipation. If you experience any of these symptoms, it’s important to see your doctor so that you can get tested for thyroid disease.
Diagnosis of Thyroid Disease
A complete diagnostic evaluation for thyroid disease includes a thorough history and physical examination, as well as specific blood tests. Depending on the results of these tests, your doctor may also recommend additional imaging tests or procedures.
One of the most important things your doctor will do when you develop symptoms or side effects that may be due to a thyroid disorder is to order blood tests. With these tests, doctors can measure how much thyroid hormone is in your bloodstream and get an indication of how well your thyroid gland is functioning.
There are two types of blood tests that are commonly used to diagnose thyroid disease:
TSH test: The thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) test is the most common blood test used to diagnose thyroid disorders. TSH is produced by the pituitary gland and it stimulate the thyroid gland to produce thyroid hormone. When the levels of thyroid hormone in the blood are low, the pituitary gland produces more TSH in an attempt to stimulate the thyroid gland to produce more hormone. Conversely, when levels of thyroid hormone in the blood are high, the pituitary gland produces less TSH. So, by measuring the level of TSH in your blood, doctors can get an indication of whether your thyroid gland is functioning properly.
Free T4 and Free T3 tests: These tests measure the levels of two thyroxine hormones — free T4 and free T3 — in your bloodstream. Free T4 is considered the “storage” form of thyroxine and it circulates in your bloodstream bound to a protein called thyroxine-binding globulin (TBG). Free T3 is the “active” form of thyroxine and it circulates in your bloodstream bound to a protein called transthyretin (TTR). Both TBG andTTR help regulate the amount of free thyroxine that is available for cells to use.
Imaging tests can help identify structural problems with the thyroid gland or abnormalities in the surrounding tissues. Images also can be helpful in evaluating the effects of thyroid cancer or Graves’ disease on the eyes and nearby structures.
Ultrasound. An ultrasound uses sound waves to produce a picture of your thyroid gland. This test can help determine the size, shape and location of your gland and can help identify abnormal growths or nodules within the gland. It also can be used to guide a biopsy needle into abnormal areas of your gland for tissue sampling.
Computerized tomography (CT). A CT scan uses special x-ray equipment to obtain cross-sectional images (often called slices) of your brain, head, neck and thyroid gland than are then assembled by computer to create detailed three-dimensional images. CT scans provide more detailed information about the structure and position of your thyroid gland than do standard x-rays. A CT scan also may be used to guide a biopsy needle into abnormal areas for tissue sampling. In some cases, you may receive an injection of contrast material before a CT scan so that your gland and surrounding structures show up more clearly on the images.
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). An MRI uses powerful radio waves and magnets instead of x-rays to produce detailed images of structures inside your body. An MRI often is used to examine structures in the brain and spinal cord that don’t show up well on a CT scan, such as small tumors or abnormalities in blood vessels. An MRI also may be used instead of a CT scan to guide a biopsy needle into abnormal areas for tissue sampling if you have Tourette syndrome or another condition that makes it difficult for you to lie still during a CT scan.
Biopsy is the removal of a small amount of tissue from the thyroid gland for examination under a microscope. A pathologist will examine the tissue to look for signs of disease. A biopsy is the only way to definitively diagnose thyroid cancer, but it can also be used to diagnose other thyroid conditions.
There are two main types of biopsy: fine needle aspiration (FNA) and formal thyroidectomy. FNA is less invasive and is the preferred method when cancer is not suspected. In an FNA, a thin needle is inserted into the thyroid gland and used to remove cells or fluid. These cells are then examined under a microscope.
A formal thyroidectomy involves surgically removing part or all of the gland. This type of biopsy is generally only done when cancer is suspected.
Treatment of Thyroid Disease
There are many myths about weight loss and thyroid disease. Some people think that if they have a thyroid problem, they will automatically start losing weight. Others think that weight loss is the only symptom of thyroid disease.
There are several types of thyroid surgery, and the type that is right for you will depend on your individual situation. The most common type of surgery is called a hemithyroidectomy, which involves removing half of the thyroid gland. This is usually done if the thyroid gland is large or if there are suspicious growths on the gland that need to be biopsied. A total thyroidectomy, which involves removing the entire thyroid gland, may be recommended if you have cancer or if you have had previous neck surgery that makes a partial removal difficult. In some cases, only part of the thyroid gland is removed and the rest is left in place. This is called a subtotal or near-total thyroidectomy. Surgery to remove the thyroid gland is generally safe and effective, but it does carry some risks. These include infection, bleeding, damage to nerves in the neck that control swallowing and vocal cord function, and hypothyroidism (a condition in which the body does not produce enough thyroid hormone).
Radioactive iodine is often used to treat hyperthyroidism, or an overactive thyroid. This treatment involves taking a radioactive iodine supplement, which helps to shrink the thyroid gland and reduce hormone production. Radioactive iodine is also sometimes used to destroy residual thyroid tissue after surgery.
Thyroid hormone therapy
Thyroid hormone therapy is the main treatment for all problems with too much or too little thyroid hormone in the body. This type of therapy uses synthetic (man-made) thyroid hormone to bring thyroid hormone levels back to a normal range. The most common brand names for synthetic thyroid hormone are levothyroxine (such as Synthroid, Levoxyl, Tirosint, and Unithroid) and liothyronine (such as Cytomel or Triostat).