Thyroid symptoms in men often go unnoticed.
Since weight gain or weight loss, fatigue, muscle weakness are prevalent in the general population, it can be difficult for men to associate these as signs and symptoms of thyroid.
This can lead to delay in identification and treatment of thyroid.
What are the symptoms of thyroid in males?
Dr Silviya Irene, Endocrinologist at Sitaram Bhartia Hospital says, “Thyroid symptoms in men differ depending on whether they have hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism”
“Men with either of these conditions will probably feel fatigue and muscle weakness predominantly, in their arms and thighs. This may result in difficulty in climbing stairs or combing hair.”
Can a man have an overactive thyroid?
An overactive thyroid is usually more common in women but men can also have this condition, which is known as hyperthyroidism.
Hyperthyroidism Symptoms in Men
When the thyroid gland (a small butterfly-shaped organ situated at the base of the neck) produces too much of thyroxine, a thyroid hormone, the condition is called hyperthyroidism.
Ankit Jha, 29 was experiencing rapid weight loss without any changes in his food habits, workout regime or daily routine. He consulted the doctors at Sitaram Bhartia Hospital who suggested a full-body check-up. The tests revealed an overactive thyroid.
He was referred to Dr Silviya, to understand symptoms and treatment options for the thyroid disorder.
Ankit exhibited the following hyperthyroidism symptoms in men:
- Sudden weight loss:
Dr Silviya explains, “Hyperthyroidism accelerates your metabolism, which results in rapid weight loss in spite of unchanged food habits.”
- Rapid heartbeat:
Rapid heartbeat or palpitations (gabhrahat) may present as one of the symptoms of hyperthyroidism in men. In this condition, the heart beats more than 100 times a minute. This increase in heart rate persists even during sleep, which is typical in hyperthyroidism.Dr Silviya adds “Hyperthyroidism may also present as irregular heartbeats or palpitations which may lead to excessive stress on heart.”
Many men may also experience fatigue or muscle weakness as a symptom of hyperthyroidism.Dr Silviya explains, “Apart from fatigue, other symptoms of hyperthyroidism may also include heat intolerance, excessive sweating, nervousness and anxiety”“Some people may also notice sleeplessness (insomnia) or tremors in hands and fingers.”
- Fine and brittle hair:
One of the thyroid symptoms in men is hair turning fine and brittle.
- Enlarged male breast and erectile dysfunction:
Due to hormonal imbalance in the body, there is an increased conversion of the male hormone to the female hormone.“If hyperthyroidism goes undetected for a long time, it can cause enlargement of male breast and erectile dysfunction.”
Dr Silviya explains, “In addition to sudden weight loss and rapid heartbeats, you may notice swelling at the base of the neck which is a sign of an enlarged thyroid gland”
“Some forms of hyperthyroidism can even lead to protrusion of eyeball”
Ankit was curious about hyperthyroidism and wanted to know more.
What causes male hyperthyroidism?
Hyperthyroidism could be caused due to
- Autoimmune diseases like Graves’ disease,
- Inflammation of the thyroid gland,
- Hyperfunctioning of thyroid nodules either single or multiple
- An overdose of hypothyroid medicines can cause hyperthyroidism
How to treat hyperthyroidism in men?
The treatment of hyperthyroidism problems in men depends on the cause behind it and severity of the condition.
The treatment of thyroid includes
- Oral medicines
- Radioactive iodine treatment or
The treatment depends on patient’s age, sex and even taking their preference into account.
Dr Silviya adds, “You should weigh the pros and cons of each of the treatment option. Based on your condition and preference, the treatment is decided”
After taking Ankit’s condition and his travelling job into account, radioactive iodine treatment was decided as the course of treatment for him.
Hypothyroidism in men
Ashutosh Mailk, 40 experienced rapid weight gain along with constipation which he wrote off as signs of ageing.
In his annual blood test, it was found that he had an underactive thyroid gland.
Hypothyroidism is another thyroid problem in men, wherein the thyroid gland is unable to produce enough hormones. It creates an imbalance in the body’s functions where thyroid hormone is involved.
Dr Silviya says, “Hypothyroidism usually affects pregnant women but it may also affect men, infants, children and teens”
“It usually develops slowly over the years but some forms of hypothyroidism can develop over the weeks as well.”
Hypothyroidism symptoms in men
The signs and symptoms of hypothyroidism are similar for men and women except for few exceptions like changes in the menstrual patterns.
Dr Silviya explains to Ashutosh, “Hypothyroidism symptoms in men and women depend on the severity of hormone deficiency”
Ashutosh displayed the following hypothyroidism symptoms in men:
- Fatigue: Dr Silviya says, “In hypothyroidism, people are excessively fatigued after performing their daily tasks. They may also notice muscles aches, tenderness and stiffness and swelling”
- Elevated blood cholesterol level: The hormonal imbalance in the body leads to elevated blood-cholesterol level.
- Puffy face: Few people with hypothyroidism may also notice that their face is getting puffier and swelling below the eyes.
- Constipation: Constipation is also one of the common hypothyroidism symptoms in men.
- Weight gain: One of the hypothyroidism symptoms in men is rapid weight gain. Men experience sudden weight gain despite no changes in their diet and the amount of food consumed.
Dr Silviya emphasises, “Hypothyroidism symptoms in men may also include impaired memory, slowed heart rate, depression, cold intolerance, excessive sleepiness and memory lapses”
What are the causes of hypothyroidism?
There can be many causes of hypothyroidism which may include:
- autoimmune diseases like Hashimoto’s thyroiditis,
- after thyroid surgery,
- certain sect of treated patients of hyperthyroidism may develop hypothyroid and
- radiation therapy and even certain medications.
What are the treatment options for Hypothyroidism?
Treatment of hypothyroidism involves oral replacement of thyroid hormone.
Dr Silviya explains to Ashutosh, “These oral medications contain thyroid hormone which makes up for the thyroid deficiency. It is important that you take the medications as instructed as overdose can lead to hyperthyroidism.”
Ashutosh was prescribed medications for his hypothyroidism.
Thyroid and sexual health of men
Does thyroid cause erectile dysfunction?
Yes, thyroid can cause erectile dysfunction. It usually affects men with hyperthyroidism whereas sperm abnormalities are generally found in men with hypothyroidism. Thyroid interferes with men’s sexual health and may therefore affect their fertility as well.
Dr Silviya concludes “Thyroid symptoms in men requires careful identification and needs medical guidance. If you suspect symptoms of thyroid, approach your doctor and get a proper diagnosis done”
“You doctor may advise blood test for confirmation of the same. Based on the test results, the treatment would be decided accordingly.”