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Childhood Symptoms of Thyroid Problems

Pediatrics and Child Health
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The thyroid is a small gland located at the front of the neck that produces major hormones in the human body. These hormones keep the body functioning properly and control how a child grows. When the thyroid isn’t working properly, it can cause problems in the body. The two main types of thyroid disorder are hyperthyroidism (when the thyroid is too active and releases too much hormone) and hypothyroidism (when the thyroid is underactive and doesn’t produce enough). Symptoms of thyroid problems depend on which type of thyroid disorder the child is experiencing. Here are common symptoms of both kinds of thyroid disorders in children.

Symptoms of Hyperthyroidism

Hyperthyroidism is the overproduction of hormones in the body. Symptoms associated with this disorder include weight loss for no apparent reason (even with a maintained or even increased appetite), heart palpitations, sweating and sensitivity to heat, anxiety, diarrhea, trouble sleeping, and bulging eyes.

Newborns are also at risk for this disorder, which can be life-threatening if not caught and promptly treated. Symptoms of hyperthyroidism in infants consist of poor weight gain, fast heartbeat, high blood pressure, bulging eyes, diarrhea and vomiting, and even difficulty breathing due to the enlarged thyroid gland pressing on the baby’s tiny windpipe.

Symptoms of Hypothyroidism

Due to the lack of hormones, kids with hypothyroidism experience slowed growth, delayed tooth development, and delayed puberty. These kids tend to be low energy and tire easily. Their heart rates are lower, they have a harder time getting warm, they are more likely to experience constipation, and their hair and skin are dry and brittle. Despite the problem delayed growth, weight gain is also a symptom.

Symptoms of thyroid problems in infants that have to do with this lack of hormones typically involve a yellowing of the skin and the whites of the eyes (jaundice), a hoarse cry, a huge protruding tongue, poor appetite, constipation, poor muscle tone, excessive sleepiness, an umbilical hernia, and slow bone growth. Newborn infants are regularly screened for hypothyroidism. If left untreated, hypothyroidism in infants can be responsible for severe physical and mental retardation.

If a child exhibits any symptoms of thyroid problems whatsoever, it’s important that a pediatrician be contacted at once, as this is a condition that requires prompt diagnosis and treatment in order to avoid any complications. Fortunately, both hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism are treatable, usually through medication and other means determined by your doctor.

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