Thyroid Problems In Teens - Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis

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Teenage is a crucial stage in your child’s life. As a parent, you want the best for him and want to protect your teen from infections. However, sometimes, glands in the body can lead to problems. A thyroid problem is one such problem that can affect your teenager. But, don’t worry! Before you speak to your doctor, read the post below and get an overview of the causes, symptoms, and treatments for thyroid problems in teens.

What Are Thyroid Problems?

The thyroid is an endocrine gland located in the neck. Its function is to produce enough thyroid hormones for various metabolic functions in the body such as your heart rate, blood pressure, and calorie burning rate. Problems in the thyroid hormone production levels may cause various health issues. Thyroid problems lead to many diseases that occur due to a specific health issues in the thyroid gland [1].

[ Read: Teenage Weight Gain ]

Types Of Thyroid Problems:

Thyroid problems can manifest as many different diseases. The two most common thyroid problems are:

1. Hypothyroidism:

The thyroid gland makes insufficient hormones than the body requires for optimum metabolic functions.

2. Hyperthyroidism:

The thyroid gland makes more hormones than the body needs for various tasks [2].

Other less common thyroid problems are:

  • Goiter – unusual increment of the thyroid gland
  • Thyroid Cancer – cancer in the thyroid gland
  • Thyroid Nodules – lumps in the thyroid gland
  • Thyroiditis – inflammation of the thyroid gland

These are also often the cause of hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism.

Thyroid problems in teenagers are quite prevalent. Hypothyroidism can adversely affect the growth of teenagers. Teenagers can also suffer from thyroid cancer and goiter [3].

Causes Of Hyperthyroidism:

The top reason for hyperthyroidism in teens is Graves’ disease. There are, of course, other reasons teens suffer from an overactive thyroid [4].

1. Graves’ Disease:

Graves’ disease is an autoimmune disorder. If your teen suffers from this condition, it means that his immune system creates antibodies that force his thyroid gland to produce excessive hormones. Scientists believe that Graves’ disease can occur due to hereditary factors.

2. Thyroiditis:

Inflammation of the thyroid gland can occur due to viral infections, immune system problems or for reasons yet unknown. This type of swelling can cause thyroid hormone to leak into the patient’s bloodstream. Subacute thyroiditis is a painful condition. The cause of this condition is not yet known. But, with this disorder, the overactive thyroid gland normalizes after a while.

3. Thyroid Nodule Problems:

Your teenager can suffer from hyperthyroidism due to nodule growth in his thyroid gland. These nodules can stimulate the hormone production in the thyroid gland, thus, causing overactive thyroid in teenager.

Symptoms Of Hyperthyroidism:

Here are the most common symptoms of hyperthyroidism.

  • Increased appetite
  • Weight loss (despite increased appetite and more food consumption)
  • Fatigue
  • Irregular or rapid heartbeats, heart palpitations
  • Sweating
  • Anxiety
  • Brittle hair
  • Goiter
  • Bowel pattern changes
  • Menstrual cycle pattern changes

Teenagers with hyperthyroidism can also show some more symptoms.

  • Hyperactivity, restlessness
  • Hand tremors
  • Diarrhea, increased bowel movements
  • Bulging eyes
  • High blood pressure
  • Poor concentration
  • Moodiness
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Itchy skin
  • Redness of skin

Teens who have an overactive thyroid may suffer from poor school performance due to their various symptoms.

Causes Of Hypothyroidism:

Here are the causes for hypothyroidism in teens.

1. Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis:

The most common cause of an underactive thyroid in teenager is an autoimmune disease known as Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. In this condition, the body creates antibodies that attack the thyroid gland. If your teenager suffers from Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, his thyroid gland may not be able to produce the required hormone for his body to function well.

2. Thyroid Surgery:

Thyroid surgery may necessitate the removal of a part or the entire thyroid gland. The result is low or no thyroid hormone production at all.

3. Hyperthyroid Treatment:

Patients with an overactive thyroid gland receive treatment for the same in the form of medications or a process known as radioactive iodine. But, at times, this treatment can also cause hypothyroidism.

4. Radiation Therapy:

Treatment for cancers in the neck, head or of lymphoma requires radiation therapy in the neck area. This treatment may damage the thyroid gland and cause hypothyroidism.

5. Medications:

Certain medications for heart conditions, cancers and psychiatric problems can make the thyroid gland to produce a low number of hormones. Some examples of such medicines are lithium, amiodarone and interferon alpha.

Here are some less common causes of hypothyroidism in teenagers.

1. Iodine Deficiency:

Your teenager can also suffer from hypothyroidism if his diet is low in iodine. Iodine is a trace mineral, which is essential for the production of the thyroid hormone.

2. Congenital Problems:

Your teenager can also have hypothyroidism due to birth defects. If your child had a genetically underdeveloped thyroid gland, he could suffer from hypothyroidism.

3. Pituitary Gland Disorder:

This is very rare but if the pituitary gland is not able to produce the optimum amounts of thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH), the result may be hypothyroidism. It is TSH production that sends a message to the thyroid gland about the quantity of the hormone production.

4. Problem In Hypothalamus:

It is an extremely rare cause of hypothyroidism, which occurs when the hypothalamus in the brain doesn’t produce enough hormones that affect TSH production.

5. Teen Pregnancy:

If your teenage daughter becomes pregnant, she can temporarily suffer from low thyroid production.

[ Read: Short term Memory Loss In Teens ]

Symptoms Of Hypothyroidism:

Here are most common symptoms of hypothyroidism.

  • Dry skin
  • Fatigue
  • Weight gain
  • High cholesterol levels
  • Depression
  • Inflammation and pain in joints
  • Muscle pain
  • Thinning hair
  • Irregular menstrual cycle
  • Poor memory
  • Teens with hypothyroidism can also show some additional symptoms.
  • Delayed puberty
  • Slow mental growth
  • Poor physical development, stunted stature

Diagnosing Thyroid Problems In Teens:

If you notice any signs of hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism in your teenager, consult a doctor for confirmation.

The usual diagnosis is through a simple blood test that determines the levels of TSH and thyroid hormone thyroxin in the body. Depending upon your child’s test results and medical history, the doctor may order additional tests such as scans.

Treating Thyroid Problems In Teens:

The treatment course for thyroid problems is often for life

  • For hypothyroidism, your child needs to take thyroid hormones in synthetic form.
  • For hyperthyroidism, your child may need to take medicines, radioactive iodine or undergo surgery depending on the severity of his condition.

Thyroid problems can adversely impact your teen’s quality of life. Recognizing the symptoms of thyroid problems in teenager and timely treatment of the same are important factors for proper management of thyroid diseases.

Do your kids suffer from thyroid problems? What were the first signs of the disease you noticed? Please share your experience with our readers.

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