You are always tired and easy to gain weight? Or are you restless? The cause could be a malfunction of your thyroid gland – this is how you recognize it
J veryone is different: one is full of energy, the other acts lack motivation and tired. This can be quite normal, but is sometimes an indication of a thyroid disorder. “Many thyroid subfunctions and overfunctions remain undetected, and almost every third person diagnoses thyroid disease in Germany,” says Prof. Hans Udo Zieren, medical director of the German Thyroid Center. Both a hypofunction and an overfunction can affect your performance in training – and if severely pronounced, it can be detrimental.
What is the function of the thyroid?
The thyroid lies below the larynx in front of the trachea and has the shape of a butterfly. The thyroid gland produces various hormones – the two most important are thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3). “Put simply, thyroid hormones are energy sources for many of our cells,” says Zieren. Part of these hormones your body absorbs into the cells, where they activate the metabolism. Among other things, they accelerate the heartbeat, regulate the blood pressure and also have an effect on the psyche.
Normally, the body keeps the hormone release in balance. A healthy thyroid produces about 80 to 100 micrograms of T4 daily and 10 to 40 micrograms of T3. But in some people, too many or too few thyroid hormones are released. The speech is then of an over- or under-function.
What are the causes of hyperthyroidism?
Often, hyperthyroidism – also called hyperthyroidism – is a consequence of other diseases. According to Zieren, Basedow’s disease is one of the most important causes: In the case of autoimmune disease, the body forms antibodies against parts of the thyroid, the so-called TSH receptors. As a result, your thyroid produces more hormones.
Another typical cause is thyroid autonomy, in which your thyroid no longer adheres to the actual regulation and releases too many hormones. “Sometimes, for example, doctors prescribe excessive doses of thyroid hormone after surgery,” says the doctor. A rare cause is thyroid inflammation, which releases too many thyroid hormones as a result of cell breakdown.
What are the causes of hypothyroidism?
Also a hypofunction ( hypothyroidism ) can have different causes. In some cases, the malfunction is innate and develops in the womb. Most often, hyperthyroidism occurs as a result of Hashimoto’s disease : “Hashimoto’s thyroiditis usually leads to self-destruction of the thyroid gland in the long run,” emphasizes Zieren. The inflammation can lead to a loss of actually healthy thyroid tissue.
The tissue may also have been destroyed or removed by thyroid surgery or so-called radioiodine therapy for the treatment of thyroid disorders. Rarely can the regulation or production of your hormones be disturbed. If you have been given medications for the treatment of overfunction, they may be overdosed and may have triggered a hypofunction.
What are the symptoms of hyperthyroidism?
If your body produces too many thyroid hormones, it also has too much energy. “In an over-function, body and soul are ‘over-the-top’,” says Zieren. Some typical symptoms of hyperthyroidism are therefore consequences of the body having a surplus of energy:
- Cardiac arrhythmia: The heart is racing, even if you have not moved much? A common phenomenon of hyperthyroidism.
- Weight loss despite cravings: Because the metabolism is so much accelerated, those affected lose weight even when they eat a lot. At the same time, they are always hungry because insulin production is disturbed.
- High Blood Pressure: Thyroid hormones regulate blood pressure. If they are in excess, the blood pressure also shoots up.
- Nervousness, inner restlessness and sleep disorders: If you have too much energy, you often become nervous and restless. In addition, you may suffer from sleep problems if your body is always working at full speed.
- Mood swings and aggression: Hyperthyroidism can also affect your psyche – such as with a fluctuating mood or a tendency towards aggressiveness.
- Exhaustion and powerlessness: Being exhausted but at the same time having too much energy? Sounds contradictory, but is actually logical. Because: If your body is constantly under power, he will eventually get tired.
- Thyroid enlargement: Occurs in 70 to 90 percent of patients and is a signal for a malfunction. Noticeable by an enlargement of the neck.
- Other symptoms include diarrhea, increased sweating and hair loss.
What are the symptoms of hypothyroidism?
“Hypothyroidism is just the opposite of hyperfunction: the body has too little energy and accordingly it has other symptoms,” says the expert. In most cases, a sub-function develops gradually in adulthood and manifests itself later. There may be very different symptoms:
- Extreme fatigue and excessively fast fatigue: Your metabolism is slow because your body lacks the thyroid hormones. The consequences: You are constantly tired and exhausted.
- Weight gain despite loss of appetite: You are barely hungry, but still take quickly? This could indicate hypothyroidism.
- Potency problems: Especially in men, hypothyroidism can lead to less desire for sex. This can also affect the potency.
- Depressive moods, difficulty concentrating and lacking in drive: Similar to an overactive condition, hypothyroidism can negatively affect your mental well-being.
- Cool, pale and dry skin: The sebaceous glands of the skin are activated by thyroid hormones. If not enough T4 and T3 are produced, the skin does not sufficiently oil and becomes dry.
- Constipation: Thyroid hormones also affect bowel movement and digestion. A deficiency can therefore lead to a (chronic) constipation.
- Increased susceptibility to infection: Strong defenses need a lot of energy, otherwise they can not protect you from an infection. An indication of hypothyroidism can be that you often get sick.
- Enlargement of the thyroid: Even with a hypofunction, it can lead to an enlargement of the neck. So off to the doctor, when the neck is suddenly thicker.
- Sensitivity to cold, headache and swollen face: These symptoms are also typical of a malfunction of the thyroid gland. In addition to the face, tongue and eye areas can also swell.
How do you recognize hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism?
The problem with the two diseases of the thyroid gland is that they often go undetected. Because: “A malfunction of the thyroid gland can cause just about any conceivable physical and mental discomfort, but it does not have to,” says Zieren. Some symptoms do not occur at all, others stronger. As a rule, the symptoms of hyperthyroidism are more pronounced than those of hypofunction. That’s why those affected feel sick faster.
Rule of thumb: If two or three of these symptoms occur simultaneously over a period of at least two weeks, it is best to first have your doctor do a blood test or ultrasound of your thyroid. This makes it relatively easy to see if you have a malfunction. “At the latest, if you feel a magnification on the neck and has the corresponding symptoms, you should go to the doctor,” emphasizes Zieren.
Can Thyroid Disease Become Dangerous?
“Undetected and untreated malfunctions can be very harmful in the long term,” says thyroid expert Zieren. The more severe the disease, the higher the chance of coma falling. And then it can be very dangerous: “Patients can die as a result of very pronounced hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism,” warns Zieren. That is very rare. However, it is important that you visit a doctor at the latest on specific suspicion.
How does a hypofunction or overfunction affect my training?
Depending on whether you have a hypofunction or hyperfunction, the lack or excess of energy could negatively affect the performance of the sport, “says Zieren.When the symptoms are already more pronounced and the malfunction is known, you should do something in training for now It’s worth taking a break, especially at the beginning of the diagnosis, even though patients are generally comfortable, because many thyroid patients need time to get used to the other levels of stress, and you are avoiding overloading your cardiovascular system becomes.
An appointment with a doctor is useful before the training – this is especially true for competitive athletes, because their treatment may need to be adapted to the sport. In case of very severe hyperthyroidism or hyperthyroidism with severe symptoms (fever, pain in the area of the thyroid gland), doctors advise against sport because the body needs a lot of rest to heal the inflammation. If you are symptom-free and your thyroid gland values are okay, you can increase your exercise level again slightly. It is important, however, that you know your own limit and take the signals of your body seriously and down a gear when you have complaints again.
How is thyroid hyperfunction treated?
Two factors are crucial for the choice of treatment: the severity and the cause of the over-function. There are basically 4 different therapy options.
- Reduced iodine intake: If you already have hyperthyroidism, or if it starts to work, you should first take in less iodine. Iodine is found mainly in seafood, food salts and eggs. Of such foods, you should first let go of an over-function fingers.
- Medication: Your doctor may also prescribe medication for your treatment. “The duration of treatment varies, but pills for over-function are not free of side-effects and risks, so they should not be a permanent solution, if possible,” advises the expert. Possible side effects include elevated liver values and sometimes dangerous changes in the blood count. Thionamide medications are most commonly prescribed to prevent iodine from being incorporated into the thyroid hormones – and thus reduce the production of thyroid hormones. Cardiovascular medications such as beta-blockers are also used to treat the consequences of hyperthyroidism. For example, if you have too high blood pressure.
- Radioiodine therapy: Another treatment is radioiodine therapy. In this case, the tissue that produces too much thyroid hormone is destroyed by radioactive iodine. In radioiodine therapy, you take in a small amount of radioactive job. It is important that the dosage is correct, so that only the not properly functioning tissue is eliminated, but the healthy cells are spared. The advantage of this treatment is that surgery is avoided. However, an inpatient stay is also necessary here and, in contrast to surgery, it may take up to 3 months for the effect to occur. Cancer or damage to the organs due to the radiation are not to be feared, according to Zieren.
- Thyroid surgery: The diseased thyroid tissue can also be removed by surgery. The advantage: You have the desired effect immediately after the procedure. But even an operation is not free of risks. Although most surgeries run smoothly, there is a minimal risk of infection or bruising. After surgery, you may also get voice and speech disorders. If the parathyroid glands are injured or accidentally mitentfert, it may also lead to a calcium deficiency. The death rate, however, is close to zero, says Zieren.
How is a hypothyroidism treated?
In a subfunction, there is often no way around drugs. Usually, doctors administer L-thyroxine supplements to compensate. But it is important that you about 4 to 8 weeks after you have taken the tablets for the first time, your values can be checked, because the dosage varies from person to person. “If you have Hashimoto’s thyroiditis and are hypoglycemic, it usually takes a lifelong intake of artificial thyroid hormones,” says the expert.
With correct dosage usually no side effects occur. However, some patients still feel the symptoms of hypofunction despite medication and good blood values. If this happens to you, your doctor may recommend that you divide the dose or take it at other times of the day.
Conclusion: Thyroid dysfunctions can limit your performance
Many of the symptoms of under- and over-functioning also affect other illnesses or can even occasionally occur without illness. Therefore, it is difficult to detect a malfunction of the thyroid early. If you experience several symptoms over a longer period of time, you should have your doctor check you – at the latest, if the neck is thicker. Because whether you have too much or too little energy, it can negatively affect your performance and, in the worst case, be life-threatening.