What are the Main Causes of Thyroid Problems?

The thyroid gland serves many purposes within our bodies. It regulates our metabolism, it is partially responsible for cellular growth and it helps us convert food into an accessible source of energy. Unfortunately, there can be times when the thyroid ceases functioning as it should. These problems can manifest themselves in the form of hypothyroidism (and underactive gland) and hyperthyroidism (an overactive gland). What are some of the main causes of such conditions? Let's break both of these scenarios down in more detail. 



The Causes of Hyperthyroidism 

Hyperthyroidism is associated with an excessive production of certain thyroid hormones. A chronic condition known as Graves' disease is one of the most common causes. However, other variables can also contribute to hyperthyroidism. Here are three known scenarios: 


  • Adenomas (nodules) that form around the thyroid gland and begin secreting additional hormones; leading to an imbalance. 

  • Subacute thyroiditis (a temporary inflammation of the thyroid gland that causes it to "leak" hormones into the body). Note that this condition tends to resolve itself over time. 

  • There can also be times when the pituitary gland malfunctions and sends signals to the thyroid to secrete hormones that are not needed. 


It should also be mentioned that hyperthyroidism may result due to the presence of cancerous cells. However, this is considered to be a rather rare cause. 



The Causes of Hypothyroidism 

Now that we have examined hyperthyroidism in detail, why might certain individuals be diagnosed with an underactive gland? Here are some causes of hypothyroidism as summarized by WebMD


  • An autoimmune disorder known as Hashimoto's thyroiditis. In this case, the immune system of the body begins attacking the thyroid tissue; leading to a lower hormone levels. 

  • There can also be times when an excessive exposure to iodide may lead to hypothyroidism. 

  • If a portion of the thyroid gland has been removed, you will be at a greater risk of developing hypothyroidism. 

  • The drug lithium has been linked to this condition. 

  • Once again, some rare types of cancer may also cause hypothyroidism to develop. 


What Treatment Options are Available? 

Thankfully, there are many modern methods to treat either of these conditions. One effective technique involves taking natural supplements in order to restore hormone levels. For instance, the Armour Thyroid here can be self-administered on a daily basis by those who are suffering from hyperthyroidism. 


Those diagnosed with hyperthyroidism can likewise be provided with a handful of options. These include anti-thyroid medications, a series of chemicals known as beta blockers and in some cases, surgery. 


Perhaps the main takeaway point here is that either of these conditions can be treated. Part of a successful strategy involves the ability to appreciate some common causes and risk factors. Targeted solutions can thereafter be leveraged at the right times. 


Do you suspect that your thyroid is not functioning as it should be? If so, make it a point to speak with your primary care physician. You will then be provided with an accurate diagnosis.