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Can Issues with Your Thyroid be Genetic?

Thyroid Disease and Genetics

Thyroid problems are quite common, particularly among women, and if you have family members with thyroid disease, you may wonder if your risk is increased.

What does it mean to have a thyroid disease?

Your thyroid gland is about two inches long and is located in the front of your neck. It controls your metabolism, which helps convert food into energy. The hormones it produces also affect many of your body’s other processes, including growth and development, cognition, cardiovascular function, and bone health.

A thyroid disease can indicate a problem, such as your thyroid gland producing too much or too little hormone. It could also become enlarged or grow extra tissue.

What are the different types of thyroid disease?

The following are some common types of thyroid disease:

  • Hypothyroidism: This disease causes your thyroid to not produce enough hormones. As a result, your metabolism can slow down, and you may gain weight or feel fatigued or depressed. Hypothyroidism may be caused by Hashimoto’s disease, which occurs when your immune system attacks your thyroid.
  • Hyperthyroidism: This causes your thyroid to produce too much hormone, which can cause your heart to race or make you suddenly lose weight. In some cases, it can be caused by Graves’ disease, an immune system problem.
  • Goiters: A goiter is an abnormal enlargement of your thyroid gland. It may be visible as a bulge in your neck, or it can cause you to have a chronic cough or hoarseness.
  • Nodules: These growths on the thyroid gland can sometimes cause it to overproduce hormones. In some cases, they can be cancerous.

What are some signs and symptoms of thyroid problems?

Thyroid problems can cause one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Fatigue or weakness
  • Sensitivity to cold or heat
  • Weight gain or loss
  • Enlargement of the thyroid gland
  • Constipation or more constant bowel movements
  • Rough, dry skin
  • Muscle aches or cramping
  • Coughing
  • Hoarseness
  • Irregular or heavy periods
  • Memory loss
  • Depression
  • Nervousness or irritability
  • Poor concentration
  • Brittle hair
  • Sweating

Who is at risk for developing thyroid disease?

Genetics can play a role in determining the concentration of thyroid hormone. Some specific genes are known to influence thyroid function, and autoimmune thyroid diseases commonly runs in families.

What screening tests are available for thyroid disease?

If you have symptoms that could indicate that you have thyroid disease, you should be screened. The same is true if you have a strong family history of thyroid problems. Screening tests include the following:

  • Thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH): The most common test, this blood test measures the amount of several hormones produced by the thyroid. It can show whether your thyroid gland is overactive or underactive.
  • Other tests can also be performed along with a TSH screening or can be used to confirm its results. These include the following:
    • T3 test: measures the amount of T3, a thyroid hormone, in the blood and can also be used to diagnose hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism.
    • T3RU: measures the amount of proteins that bind to T3 and T4 hormones and used to diagnose hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism. However, its results can be affected by other disorders, such as kidney and liver problems.

If you have symptoms that could indicate that you may have thyroid disease or if you have a strong family history of this disease, contact us today for a consultation with Neighborhood Radiology Services, PC in Manhattan, Queens, and Long Island. We deliver exceptional care with a patient-centered focus. Fill out the form on this page to request an appointment or call 800-220-2220 to learn more.

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