Thyroid Symptoms in Men – An Informative 101 Guide

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While at times contributed by guest authors, our content is medically reviewed periodically by professionals for accuracy and relevance. We pride ourselves on our high-quality content and strive towards offering expertise while being authoritative. Our reviewers include doctors, nurses, mental health professionals, and even medical students. -----------------------------------

Yes, men do suffer from thyroid diseases as well. Even though women are 2 to 10 times more likely than males to develop thyroid disease, this does not indicate that men are immune.

Thyroid symptoms in men are determined by whether they have an overactive or underactive thyroid, or hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism, respectively.

About the Thyroid Gland

The thyroid gland is a small butterfly-shaped gland in the neck. It is present just in front of the windpipe or the trachea. It is rich in blood vessels and has two lobes. A bridge called an isthmus connects these two lobes.

The thyroid produces several vital hormones collectively called thyroid hormones.

According to the American Thyroid Association, it “essentially runs the body furnace.”

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Photo by TheBlackRhino/ Unlm Photos

About the Thyroid Hormones

Iodine from meals is used by the thyroid gland to produce hormones. These 2 thyroid hormones are triiodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine (T4). These hormones are also stored in the body and released as needed.

Thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) is a hormone that is secreted by the pituitary gland that stimulates the thyroid to make thyroxine and later triiodothyronine, which helps to determine the functioning and effectiveness of these hormones.

T3 and T4 are two hormones that work together to control how your body uses energy. These hormones also play a role in weight management, body temperature regulation, muscle strength, metabolism, mood affection, and nervous system regulation.

Thyroid Symptoms In Men

Thyroid dysfunction is caused by any alteration in the normal functioning of this gland hence, giving rise to thyroid disorders.

Thyroid dysfunction has two types, as mentioned above that is hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism.

Depending upon whether the thyroid is overactive or underactive, symptoms vary in terms of gender and from person to person.

Men tend to dismiss the notion that they may have thyroid disease because it is less common in men.

Men may experience thyroid symptoms that are similar to those experienced by women. However, a few gender-specific signs can only be seen in men and are distinct to their gender.

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1. Hyperthyroidism or an Overactive Thyroid Gland

Hyperthyroidism is when your thyroid gland produces more thyroid hormones than your body requires. Many of your body’s activities speed up when you have too much thyroid hormone, especially thyroxine, due to an overactive thyroid.

A few causes of an overactive thyroid:

  • Graves’ disease, the most common cause of hyperthyroidism, is an autoimmune disorder. Our immune system mistakenly attacks the thyroid and causes it to make too much thyroid hormone.

  • Inflammation of the thyroid gland or thyroiditis.

  • Consuming a large amount of iodine.

  • Overactive thyroid nodules.

  • A benign tumor of the pituitary gland.

  • Some people suffering from hypothyroidism may take too much thyroid hormone, which may lead to hyperthyroidism. Hence, a blood test is suggested to monitor thyroid levels.

  • A family history of a thyroid disorder or any other autoimmune condition is also considered to cause hyperthyroidism.

Symptoms of Hyperthyroidism

Thyroid Symptoms In Men
Photo by justtscott/ Unlim Photos
Symptoms of an overactive thyroid common in both men and women 
  1. Unexpected weight loss, despite the fact that eating habits and hunger are unchanged.

  2. Fatigue arises from losing muscle mass and strength, resulting in a lack of energy and a sluggish and sleepy feeling.

  3. Hair loss is common, and the remaining hair is thinned and brittle.

  4. Hyperthyroidism is characterized by rapid heartbeats and palpitations, which can occur even while sleeping. Heartbeats could be as high as 100 per minute.

  5. Sweating

  6. Anxiety or nervousness

  7. As a result of apprehension, sleeping is difficult

  8. Intolerance to heat and cold

  9. Having a lot of bowel movements

  10. Tremors, or trembling hands and fingers

  11. Swelling at the base of the neck as a result of an enlarged thyroid

  12. Rarely, protrusion of the eye may be seen

  13. Sexual dysfunction or decrease in sex drive

  14. Osteoporosis 

Symptoms of Hyperthyroidism that are Specific to the Male Gender

Though most of the symptoms are identical to both men and women, there are a few complications that are unique to men.

Overactive Thyroid Symptoms in Men

  1. Premature balding

  2. Erectile dysfunction- This is a general sexual complaint of men in which they are unable to maintain a firm and erect penis for a sufficient sexual intercourse. Erectile Dysfunction is otherwise known as Impotence.

  3. Gynecomastia or male breast enlargement

  4. Premature ejaculation- This is another frequently arising sexual complaint that men face irrespective of thyroid problems. Premature ejaculation occurs when a man ejaculates earlier than he or his partner would want during sexual intercourse.

  5. A low sperm count

    Most of the symptoms of male hyperthyroidism are a result of hormonal imbalances and a decreased level of testosterone hence, interfering with men’s sexual health.

     

2. Hypothyroidism or an Underactive Thyroid Gland

Hypothyroidism occurs when the thyroid gland is unable to produce sufficient or enough hormones and creates an imbalance in the body’s functions.

Being a woman is considered one of the significant risk factors for hypothyroidism, making men less susceptible to this thyroid condition. The reason for females being at a higher risk of developing hypothyroidism is not yet known.

Hypothyroidism occurs due to an autoimmune condition in which our immunity misidentifies and targets normal bodily parts, mistaking them for foreign invaders.

The autoimmune disease that usually causes an underactive thyroid is Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. In Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, the immune system attacks the thyroid gland, causing hypothyroidism.

Other Causes of Hypothyroidism

  • Post-thyroid surgery

  • Over-responsiveness to hyperthyroidism treatment

  • Hormone deficiency

  • Patients with hyperthyroidism undergoing Radiation therapy

  • Iodine deficiency

  • Thyroid cancer

  • Certain medications

Hypothyroidism may not cause noticeable symptoms in the early stage. Still, untreated hypothyroidism may lead to severe health problems. These may include heart disease, kidney diseases, goiter, myxoedema coma, and a few others.

Symptoms of Hypothyroidism

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Photo by Wavebreakmedia/ Unlim Photos

Underactive Thyroid Symptoms in Men

  1. Weight gain occurs rapidly without any significant change in diet and appetite. Men may tend to ignore this symptom owing to the long work sedentary work hours.

  2. A constant feeling of tiredness

  3. Constipation

  4. Anxiety and depression

  5. Thinning hair

  6. Brittle nails

  7. A slow heart rate

  8. An enlarged thyroid gland or goiter

  9. Painful, stiff, and swollen joints

  10. Puffy face

  11. Dry skin- Men usually are not concerned much about the way their skin feels. But an underactive thyroid will definitely draw their attention to these scaly and patchy skin.

  12. Elevated cholesterol levels. If these levels are raised too high, severe complications like stroke, coronary heart disease, type 2 diabetes, elevated blood pressure, and peripheral vascular disease (PVD) may occur. Even if these are rare, but are medical emergencies.

  13. Feeling cold all the time

  14. Men may also face trouble growing facial hair

  15. Memory impairment

  16. Delayed ejaculation

  17. Interference in men’s sexual health and, therefore, affecting their fertility

Pregnancy and menstrual abnormalities affect women and are very common.

Diagnosis

Thyroid disease vaguely affects men making diagnosis difficult. Most hypothyroidism symptoms do not appear immediately away. Thyroid hormone levels need to be abnormally low for symptoms to occur. Hence, diagnosing thyroid symptoms in men might be challenging.

The healthcare provider should do a physical exam, and blood tests are required to check the hormonal levels of the thyroid.

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Photo by Testalize. me on Unsplash

A medical history should be made. Noting points such as a family history of thyroid issues, age above 40 years, and type 2 diabetes play an essential role in making men more prone to developing symptoms of thyroid disease.

Other imaging tests like the Radioactive iodine uptake (RAI-U) test, Ultrasound, Computed tomography (CT), Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) may be done to rule out goiter or thyroiditis.

Treatment Options for Thyroid Issues

Hyperthyroidism Treatment

  • Radioactive iodine treatment

In this technique, an isotope of iodine that is radioactive iodine I-131 is used. It emits radiation. It primarily gets collected in the thyroid gland. Here, it inhibits the function of thyroid gland and other thyroid hormones also including the cancerous cells. It has negligible effect on the rest of the body.

  • Anti-thyroid medication to limit the thyroid function

  • Hormone therapy

  • Removal of a part of the entire thyroid can halt hormone production hence, relieving symptoms.

Hypothyroidism Treatment

  • Thyroid hormone replacement medication for the rest of the life

  • Artificial forms of thyroid hormone-like levothyroxine

  • Synthetic thyroid hormone

In a nutshell, it is necessary to identify and treat thyroid symptoms in men at the right time. Men tend to ignore thyroid problems even if they present with classic symptoms of hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism.

This happens because the thyroid symptoms in men which are not very severe including hair, nails and skin, don’t occupy or disturb men as much as they do to women. 

Even depressed mood and anxiety they suffer, might not be noticeable because it is usually considered as a consequence of work load.

The problem arises when severe symptoms start presenting and by that time, it is too late.

Men and women exhibit some common symptoms, as seen above. However, thyroid symptoms in men that are specific should be taken into consideration and treated accordingly.

While at times contributed by guest authors, our content is medically reviewed periodically by professionals for accuracy and relevance. We pride ourselves on our high-quality content and strive towards offering expertise while being authoritative. Our reviewers include doctors, nurses, mental health professionals, and even medical students. -----------------------------------

Any information found on the site does not constitute legal or medical advice. Should you face health issues, please visit your doctor to get yourself diagnosed. Icy Health offers expert opinions and advice for informational purposes only. This is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

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