Your thyroid is a small gland in your neck. It regulates hormones controlling important bodily functions, like metabolism and energy levels — but about 20 million Americans have a thyroid disorder.
Thyroid disease is very common, and if you have a close relative diagnosed with a thyroid disorder, you might wonder what that means for your own risk. Our team at Endocrine Associates of West Village is here to help you find the answers you need.
We specialize in diagnosing and managing thyroid disease in Long Island City and New York, New York. Read on to learn more about the most common types of thyroid diseases, their symptoms, and genetics' role in thyroid disease risk.
Understanding the types of thyroid disease
Your thyroid makes and releases hormones that influence several different bodily functions. But when the thyroid gland malfunctions, it causes hormonal imbalance that can lead to thyroid disease. A few of the most common types of thyroid disease are:
Hypothyroidism develops when your thyroid gland doesn’t produce enough thyroid hormones. Common symptoms include:
- Weight gain
- Dry skin
- Thinning hair
- Cold intolerance
- Heavy or irregular menstrual periods in women
Genetics play a role in your risk of hypothyroidism, but a combination of both genetic and environmental factors typically influences it. That means having a close relative with hypothyroidism may increase your risk, but it doesn't guarantee that you will develop the condition.
On the other hand, hyperthyroidism stems from an overactive thyroid gland that produces an excess of thyroid hormones. Symptoms of hyperthyroidism can include:
- Weight loss
- Rapid heart rate
- Frequent bowel movements or diarrhea
- Heat intolerance
- Trouble sleeping
Like hypothyroidism, genetic factors can contribute to your risk of developing hyperthyroidism, but it's not inevitable.
Thyroid autoimmune disorders
Both hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism can occur independently, but sometimes, autoimmune disorders cause them.
Hashimoto's thyroiditis is a leading cause of hypothyroidism, and Graves’ disease causes hyperthyroidism. Both occur when your immune system mistakenly attacks your thyroid gland, and both have a genetic component, so having a close relative with one of these disorders can elevate your risk.
Genetics and your risk of thyroid disease
Your family history affects your thyroid disease risk, but it’s just one piece of the puzzle. If a close relative has a thyroid disorder, you may be more likely to develop one, too — but it doesn't mean it's inevitable.
Other factors can also increase (or decrease) your risk of thyroid disease. For example, women are more likely than men to develop thyroid disorders, especially during pregnancy and menopause. Your risk of thyroid disease increases with age, and people over 60 are at higher risk.
If you have a close relative with thyroid disease, being proactive can help you enjoy your best possible health. We may recommend regular check-ups to monitor your thyroid function, which generally include simple blood tests to assess your thyroid hormone levels.
Maintaining a healthy lifestyle with a balanced diet, regular exercise, and stress management can also help support your thyroid health. Remember that if you experience any unusual symptoms or suspect thyroid issues, we’re here to help.
Learn more about your risk or schedule a thyroid assessment at Endocrine Associates of West Village. Call the office nearest you or request an appointment online now.