One in ten Americans, more than twenty million people, have a thyroid disorder. However, it is estimated that eight million more people remain undiagnosed. The reason for this is that thyroid disease is often mistaken for stress, anxiety, or depression. Doctors sometimes dismiss the symptoms of thyroid disorder simply due to the interplay between the disorder and premenstrual hormonal changes, menopause, the postpartum period and reproduction. Also, many doctors often ignore the thyroid gland during routine examinations. The gland is not examined by touch, because the doctor either has not been taught the art of palpating the thyroid, or are focusing on the patient's other complaints.
Hyperthyroidism, or an overactive thyroid, is a form of thyroid disease. Symptoms of hypothyroidism include cardiovascular effects, such as a rapid heartbeat and high blood pressure. Weight loss, increased appetite, sweating, hair loss and heat intolerance are other common symptoms of thyroid hormone excess and are related to its effects on metabolism. In women, menstrual periods may become lighter, lasting only one or two days, or even disappear. This disorder has negative physical effects on many organs of the body. The following are the most common:
Weight loss (or less commonly, weight gain)
Feeling hot and becoming intolerant of warm and hot temperatures
Increased hunger and food consumption
Increased frequency of bowel movements
The worst of these symptoms are the cardiac effects. An overactive thyroid can cause irregular heartbeat and even damage to the heart muscle. This damage can lead to heart failure, which may or may not improve after the overactive thyroid is diagnosed and treated. Some people may be found to have mitral valve prolapse, which is a slight deformity that causes a heart murmur. Most people with mitral valve prolapse have no symptoms, but it can cause chest pains and rapid, or irregular