Thyroid gland is an essential part of the human body’s endocrine system. The gland is present below the Adam’s apple (thyroid cartilage) in the front part of our neck. Thyroid gland controls the body’s ability to convert food into energy as well as the rate of metabolism. Hormones produced by the thyroid gland also play a vital role in maintaining human body temperature, energy in the body, the use of vitamins and other hormones by the body. Thyroid hormones also play a role in the development and maturation of our body’s tissues. Thyroid problems in men can be really frustrating.
Thyroid Problems in Men
Thyroid problems in men are not as frequent as among women. The main thyroid issues in men include thyroid nodules, goiters, hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism.
Hypothyroidism is a thyroid problem in which the activity of the thyroid gets considerably reduced. Thyroid gland can be thought of as the energy supplier in our human body. It supplies the vital thyroid hormones to the blood which takes it to the different body organs where these hormones are used to produce energy. This is the reason why an underactive thyroid gland results in our body getting slowed down and becoming underactive.
- Difficulty in keeping concentration
- Increase in weight
- Pain in the muscles
- Getting fatigued easily
- Feeling chilly and cold
- Difficulty in emptying bowels i.e. constipation
- Enlargement of the gland which is known as goiter
- Feeling depressed
- Skin becomes dry and nails become fragile
- Difficulty in keeping erection and a lack of interest in sex
The medical treatment that can reduce the symptoms of hypothyroidism is to take a replacement of the thyroid hormone. The medicine for the condition is much like a supplement which ensures that the body’s supply of thyroid does not decrease. The amount of medicine required depends mainly on body weight which is why men need more medication than women.
Hyperthyroidism is exactly the opposite of hypothyroidism. It is one of the thyroid problems in men in which the thyroid gland goes into overdrive, works too hard and produces quantity of thyroxine hormone more than what is required by the body. Other factors can also cause this hyperactivity like radiation and Graves’ disease.
- Common symptomsof hyperthyroidism include tiredness, a reduction in weight, a feeling of restlessness, excessive sweating, and persistent changes in hunger. Other thyroid symptoms in men include an enlargement of the breast tissues causing the development breasts in some men as well as the swelling of the thyroid gland itself which causes a swelling near the Adam’s apple in the neck.
- Less common symptoms of hyperthyroidism include exhaustion, vomiting, diarrhea, and loss of hair. In case the hyperactivity of thyroid gland is caused because of the Graves’ disease, symptoms can include an increase in the production of tears, irritation in eyes and in some cases the eyes can get swollen.
- An additional symptom can be an irregular but fast heartbeat. The breathing gets difficult and more effort is required to breathe even while resting.
- Beta blockers and anti-thyroid drugs are two different categories of medicine available for the treatment of hyperthyroidism. Anti-thyroid drugs limit the production of thyroxine by blocking some of the operations of the thyroid gland. On the other hand, beta blockers address the symptoms of hyperthyroidism. They neutralize the increase in heart rate and body’s metabolism caused by the presence of excessive thyroxine in the human body.
- Another treatment option for hyperthyroidism is radiation. In this treatment method, the overactive thyroid cells are destroyed by iodine cells. There are no side effects because all the iodine radiations are picked up by the thyroid cells. 80% people with the problem get treated by just one dose of radiation which is the reason that it is the most common treatment option.
- Another treatment option is surgery which is fraught with risks. Apart from other surgery related risks, there is also the danger of too much thyroid gland getting removed, resulting in hypothyroidism.
3. Thyroid Nodules
Thyroid nodules are among the thyroid problems in men. They are aberrant growths of the thyroid gland which arise as lumps at the edges of the thyroid gland. Thyroid nodules can be apparent in front of the neck in individuals who are very slim and in the case when these lumps are very large.
In most cases the thyroid nodule does not cause any symptom. The lump is found mostly by patients when they see it in the mirror or when they feel a lumpy mass in their throats. In some cases, the lump may also be found during a routine examination.
There are very rare cases in which patients feel pain in nodule. In even rarer cases patients find it difficult to swallow food because of a large nodule that is well positioned to obstruct the flow of food into the esophagus which is present beneath the trachea and thyroid.
In most cases thyroid nodules are not harmful, yet they should be examined by a physician to ensure that the problem is indeed harmless. Endocrine surgeons as well as the endocrinologists are the best to examine the nodules. Family physicians, general surgeons and general internists can also adeptly examine a nodule.
A physician is going to ask different critical question about your health to make sure there is no possibility of a serious thyroid problem. The physician might also ask questions to ensure you have not had exposure to radiations or received a radiation treatment during your childhood.
Enlargement of thyroid in men is called goiter. The development of goiter can occur in anyone but there are types of goiters that develop only in certain people. Men tend to develop goiters less frequently than women, but its effects are the same on the bodies of both men and women. The only exception is that an underactive or overactive thyroid might affect the menstrual cycle of a woman too.
Symptoms and signs are not consistent with all types of goiters. Symptoms that accompany goiter might include:
- Swelling at the neck’s base which becomes even more noticeable when you put on makeup or shave.
- Tightness in your throat
- Swallowing difficulties
- Breathing difficulties
The size of the goiter, the underlying cause and the symptoms will decide the appropriate treatment of goiter. If the goiter causes no problems, is small and does not affect the functioning of your thyroid then the doctor might ask you to wait and see what happens.
Your physician might prescribe corticosteroid medication or aspirin for treating the inflammation of your thyroid gland. You may require radioactive iodine and surgery for treating your condition if your goiter is associated with hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism.