We want to discuss in this article how hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism affects puberty and adolescence. Most often, not in the case of a congenital issue, which would have already been detected, they are caused by an autoimmune disease . Another cause that affects to a lesser extent is the ectopic thyroid with late functional failure.
It is also possible that at this stage of life the thyroid may function to a lesser extent than usual as a result of treatments such as surgery, application of radioactive iodine, external radiation to the neck. We detail some of the consequences of these diseases on the thyroid gland and their treatment.
What is hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism? Common non-congenital causes
Based on the definition, the main difference between hyperthyroidism is that the thyroid produces excess hormones, and hypothyroidism is that in it the thyroid gland does not produce the amount necessary for the body of thyroid hormones.
Its causes are therefore different. A common cause in hyperthyroidism is Graves’ disease. It can also be caused by benign tumors in the thyroid, an excess of iodine in the diet, thyroiditis, a viral infection or being treated with thyroid hormones.
The most common cause of hypothyroidism is a disease called Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, which occurs by attacking the immune system to the gland causing its loss of function and inflammation. This disease develops after the first years of life. But also, hypothyroidism may be due to a deficiency of iodine, an infection of the gland, removed it, or receiving radiation therapy to the head or neck.
Symptomatology of both diseases
Deficit or excess of thyroid hormones determines the appearance of a number of symptoms. There is weight gain, tiredness, a feeling of drowsiness, sensitivity to cold, lack of concentration, memory problems. In addition to dryness of the skin, hair loss, brittle nails, irregularities in the menstrual cycle, infertility. Emotionally people with hypothyroidism suffer depression and irritability. All these symptoms accompany in the common imaginary to adolescence, that is why many girls spend time until this thyroid problem is detected.
With hyperthyroidism, on the contrary the organism is accelerated, with palpitations, nervousness, anxiety, sweating and tremors in the hands. There is increased appetite, hot flashes, sleep disturbance, weight loss, menstrual cycle irregularities, thin and brittle hair, diarrhea or more frequent bowel movements. These symptoms, in adolescents, are also confused with the hormonal changes themselves in age.
Although the treatments for hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism are different, both are effective, in most cases. The difficulty lies in detecting the problem, not so much in the diagnosis, and in adjusting these treatments to the adolescent’s own development.
Hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism in adolescence
In adolescence hypothyroidism results in growth retardation and bone age, the more pronounced the longer it has lasted. Generally causes pubertal retardation and in some rare cases can provoke precocious pseudo-puberty. In order to tartar hypothyroidism in adolescence, a thyroxine treatment of juvenile hypothyroidism is established, which allows rapid recovery of growth. In general puberty appears after you have been on treatment for 18 months.
For the case of hyperthyroidism there are pharmacological treatments that allow to regulate the production of thyroid hormones or block their function. In the most extreme cases radioactive iodine or surgery is resorted to for removal, and then the adolescent will suffer chronic hypothyroidism that will require a thyroid hormone supplement for the rest of his life.
What is important, and we would like to stress is that once treatment is started, return to normal growth and development curves is usually the general rule in adolescents. We remind you that this is an informative article, and that at all replaces a doctor’s consultation.