January is Thyroid Awareness Month
Thyroid Problems In Teens: Types, Signs, Causes & Treatment
From deficiencies to autoimmune diseases, thyroid problems could have various causes. Thyroid problems in teens can adversely affect their physical and mental development. The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland in the neck that secretes thyroid hormones to regulate metabolism and growth. It is also linked to cardiac and other vital organ functions.
Thyroid malfunctions can cause hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid) or hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid). Both these conditions can affect normal bodily functions. Therefore, it is essential to diagnose thyroid disorders early and treat them accordingly.
Thyroid problems in teens could be due to various reasons, such as:
- Congenital: Children who are born prematurely, with a low-birth weight or with down syndrome, could be at a higher risk of having congenital thyroid disorders.
- Autoimmune diseases: Hashimoto’s thyroiditis and Atrophic thyroiditis are autoimmune diseases where the body’s antibodies attack the thyroid gland and destroy it.
Most symptoms of thyroid problems in teenagers occur gradually and are often hard to diagnose. The absence of goiter (thyroid enlargement) in case of hypothyroidism makes it even more difficult to detect it. Look out for the following symptoms (if they are not already diagnosed with congenital thyroiditis) that the child may experience during puberty, to determine if they have a thyroid issue:
- Slow growth, especially stunted height;
- Delayed puberty;
- Brittle and dry hair;
- Sensitivity towards cold;
- Hoarse voice; and
- Dry skin.
- Enlargement of the thyroid gland (goiter);
- Rapid heart rate;
- Excessive sweating;
- Weight loss;
- Tingling sensation in the fingers;
- Restlessness; and
- Bulging eyes.
Symptoms of thyroid issues in children are often subtle and might go unnoticed, which is why it is necessary to monitor your child’s physical development and overall wellbeing as they enter teenage years and attain puberty. Additionally, if you find other symptoms listed above, then it is best to see a doctor. Early identification and treatment of thyroid disorders might help regulate the growth and development of the child. The primary goal of the treatment is to correct the levels of thyroid hormones and restore growth and development in the child.
To access the full article on thyroid disease and teens, click here.