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Early Signs of Possible Thyroid Issues in Children: What to Look For

People sometimes think of thyroid problems as being something that affects mainly elderly women, but in fact, anyone of any age or gender can suffer from thyroid issues. Indeed, babies can be born with insufficiency of thyroid hormone – this is called hypothyroidism. No one wants to think of their child as suffering from a condition for which they will need to take medication every day for the rest of their life, but catching thyroid issues early and establishing a good course of treatment will ensure that your child has a better chance of leading a happy and fulfilling life. Here are some signs of thyroid issues making themselves known in children.

Hyperthyroidism

Having too much thyroid hormone in your system is just as problematic as not having enough. Signs of hyperthyroidism include: agitation, excessive sweating, sleep issues, weight loss alongside increased appetite, digestive issues adjacent to diarrhoea, and wide eyes that may even bulge in extreme cases. In children, the most common cause of hyperthyroidism is Graves Disease which is an autoimmune condition which produces antibodies that over-stimulate the thyroid gland’s production of thyroid hormones. Untreated it can lead to heart problems or ‘thyroid storm’ when the body is overwhelmed by the excess amounts of thyroid hormone.

Sometimes – in fact, very often – the only ‘treatment’ for hyperthyroidism is to turn it into hypothyroidism by removing the thyroid or suppressing its function. This means that patients go from having too much thyroid hormone in their systems to not having enough. But once the treatment has taken place, treatment for hypothyroidism can begin.

Hypothyroidism

The opposite of hyperthyroidism, having too little thyroid hormone in your body can cause very serious issues and even death. Hypothyroidism symptoms include sluggishness or lack of energy, puffiness or swelling, weight gain despite having no increase in appetite, muscle soreness, dry and brittle hair, excessively dry skin, and digestive issues such as constipation. Almost the exact opposite of Graves’ Disease is Hashimoto’s thyroiditis another autoimmune condition, but this time producing antibodies which attack and weaken the thyroid, reducing its function.

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Prognosis

Unfortunately, there is no cure for either of the above-mentioned thyroid illnesses – and in fact, most thyroid conditions are incurable, with only a very few thyroid issues able to right themselves after intervention. But despite this, the prognosis is good: with thyroid medication your child will be able lead a full and active life, provided they are taking the correct doses of medication.

Will My Child Grow Out of Their Thyroid Illness?

Almost certainly not. The thyroid is a delicate organ and it does not take kindly to illnesses or surgeries that interfere with its function, as well as being fairly prone to dysfunction even without external factors being involved. But to reiterate the point made above, anyone with thyroid problems will benefit tremendously from medications. You can help them by ensuring they eat healthy natural foods, minimize their sugar intake, and that they are active most days of the week – but none of this will make as much difference as their prescribed medication.

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