6 Main Thyroid Problems in Men You Must Know

The thyroid gland, although small in size, is one of the most vital glands of the body. Located in the anterior part of neck, it functions as body’s main metabolism regulator and holds numerous other physiological functions. Since it is so important, we have to know the diseases that may affect thyroid. This article focuses on 6 main thyroid problems in men. Let's get to know them now.

6 Main Thyroid Problems Affect Men

Thyroid disorders are common in men. As thyroid gland through thyroid hormone influence all metabolic process, any problem in normal functioning of thyroid gland will lead to multiple health issues. These disorders range from harmless goiter to life-threatening cancer. Most common is the abnormal production of thyroid hormone by this gland. Below are 6 main thyroid disorders in men.

1. Hyperthyroidism

Hyperthyroidism is one of the significant thyroid problems in men due to excessive production of the thyroid hormones, resulting in a tremendous increase in the body’s metabolic rate.

Symptoms may include:

  • Rapid weight loss with no deliberate change in appetite (the amount and the quality of food you eat)
  • Palpitations, rapid or irregular heartbeats
  • Increased appetite
  • Tremors, muscle weakness, fatigue and sweating
  • Anxiety and insomnia
  • Graves' ophthalmopathy, such as swelling, redness, and protrusion of the eyes from the orbit
  • Complications include severe cardiac problems, osteoporosis and thyrotoxic crisis.

Causes

It can be causes by a myriad of autoimmune diseases. The main causes are:

  • Graves' diseases where antibodies stimulate the gland
  • Toxic adenoma and Plummer's disease which means the hyper-functioning of thyroid nodules
  • Thyroiditis is the inflammation of the Thyroid gland

Diagnosis and Treatment

Diagnosis includes medical history, physical examination, blood tests, thyroid scan and radio iodine update.

Anti-thyroid medications and beta blockers are used to treat heart complications. Radioactive thyroid and thyroidectomy are also considered. Surgical approach is used to manage Graves' ophthalmopathy.

2. Hypothyroidism

Hypothyroidism is the deficiency of the thyroid hormone in the body. This causes hormonal imbalance which disturbs many metabolic reactions in your body.

Symptoms of hypothyroidism are slow to appear and often mistaken for normal symptoms of aging. These include:

  • Fatigue
  • Weight gain
  • Arthralgia
  • Puffy face
  • Hoarse voice
  • Slowed heart rate
  • Increased blood cholesterol
  • Worsening memory
  • Depression

This is one of the thyroid problems in men where the symptoms worsen if the disease is not diagnosed and treated earlier.

Complications include goiter (enlarged thyroid gland due to relentless stimulation by thyroid stimulating hormone), heart and mental problems, peripheral neuropathy and myxedema.

Causes

  • Hashimotothyroiditis, the most common cause, is an autoimmune attack against your thyroid gland which reduces thyroid production.
  • Treatment of hyperthyroidism with anti-thyroid medication and other drugs like lithium, thyroid surgery and radiation therapy can all damage thyroid gland which significantly lowers thyroid production leading to hypothyroidism.

Diagnosis and Treatment

Diagnosis should be done via blood tests to find out your levels of TSH and thyroid hormones.

Daily intake of artificially synthesized Thyroid hormone levothyroxine can give you some relief.

3. Thyroiditis

Thyroiditis is the inflammation of the thyroid gland with various subtypes, such as Hashimoto thyroiditis (autoimmune), Postpartum thyroiditis (post child birth), Subacute thyroiditis (viral cause), Drugs and radiation-induced thyroiditis, Acute thyroiditis (bacterial cause).

Thyroiditis symptoms differ according to whether the thyroid gland cell damage is slow or rapid in nature.

  • An underactive thyroid leads to low hormone levels due to slow damage to thyroid and the symptoms resemble those of Hyperthyroidism: fatigue, weight gain, muscle pain, depression and dry skin.
  • A hyperactive thyroid leads to high hormone levels due to rapid damage to thyroid and the symptoms resemble those of hypothyroidism: weight loss, tachycardia, anxiety and irritability, muscle weakness and tremors and insomnia.

Causes

Thyroiditis is caused when thyroid is damaged as a result of attack due to infections or medicines. Inflammatory response of the body as a result of infection can damage thyroid cells. Autoimmune disease is another cause of thyroiditis.

Diagnosis and Treatment

Diagnosis includes blood tests to check hormone levels and radioactive iodine uptake. Treatment depends on the type of thyroiditis you have:

  • If the symptoms are those of hyperthyroidism: Beta blockers for the heart symptoms and tremors;
  • If the symptoms are those of hypothyroidism, synthetic thyroid doses are prescribed;
  • If the thyroid is tender, anti-inflammatory medicines like Ibuprofen or aspirin is used.

4. Thyroid Nodules

Thyroid nodules are solid or fluid-filled lumps on the thyroid gland. Among all thyroid problems in men, this one is usually harmless and painless.

Symptoms

  • Nodules can be physically felt or seen on your neck. They may put pressure on your esophagus or wind pipe and cause shortness of breath and difficulty in swallowing.
  • Occasionally, thyroid nodules produce thyroid hormones leading to hyperthyroidism symptoms like tachycardia, weight loss, anxiety, etc.
  • Tiny percentage may become malignant, either as small, slow growing lumps or aggressive, rapidly growing firm nodules.

Causes

  • Iodine deficiency – leading to multinodular goiter
  • Chronic thyroiditis – e.g. Hashimoto disease
  • Thyroid cysts – fluid-filled cavities in the thyroid mainly due to degenerating thyroid adenomas.
  • Thyroid cancer – family history of thyroid cancer increases chances

Diagnosis and Treatment

Doctor will use ultrasound and thyroid scans to get a clearer image of the nodules; thyroid function tests to determine whether nodules produce hormones; and fine-needle aspiration biopsy to check for malignancies.

Thyroid hormone suppression therapy and radioactive iodine for hormone producing nodules and surgery for malignant and troublesome non-malignant nodules are suggested to treat the problem.

5. Goiter

Goiter is one of the thyroid problems in men characterized by a large swelling underneath the Adam’s apple.

Symptoms of goiter include a visible swelling at the base of the neck, it is usually painless. When too large in size, a goiter can cause complications like tightness of throat, difficulty in breathing and swallowing, coughing and hoarseness.

Causes

  • Iodine deficiency
  • Autoimmune diseases like Graves' and Hashimoto diseases cause over or under-stimulation of the thyroid gland; both may result in a goiter
  • Solitary and multinodular goiter
  • Thyroiditis
  • Pregnancy due to human chorionic gonadotropin
  • Thyroid cancer: rare, presenting as a unilateral swelling of the thyroid gland

Treatment

  • Thyroid medications to remove symptoms of hypothyroidism and curb production of TSH so the goiter doesn't increase in size.
  • Surgery is recommended if the goiter is too big.

6. Thyroid cancer

Thyroid cancer is the most dangerous condition of all thyroid problems in men.

Symptoms

Initially it is asymptomatic but symptoms appear such as swelling in the neck, swelling of neck lymph nodes and pain, hoarseness and difficulty breathing as well as swallowing.

Causes

Causes may include exposure to high levels of radiation and inherited genetic syndromes. There are 4 types of thyroid cancer, including:

  • Papillary and Follicular thyroid cancers arise from the follicles.
  • Medullary thyroid cancer occurs in the calcitonin producing C cells. Raised levels of calcitonin in the blood are clear indicators and help in early detection.
  • Anaplastic thyroid cancer is rare, aggressive and difficult to treat.
  • Thyroid lymphoma arises rapidly from the immune system cells in the thyroid gland.

Diagnosis and Treatment

Diagnosis: Bloods tests, thyroid gland biopsy, genetic testing and imaging techniques can help diagnose thyroid cancers.

Treatment of thyroid cancers can be surgical, such as thyroidectomy and lobectomy as well as removal of affected lymph nodes of the neck. Chemotherapy, targeted drug therapy as well as intense radioactive iodine treatments are also used to kill cancerous cells.

 
 
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