thyroid problems in kids
Thyroid issues are very common in kids, but you may not know a lot about them! We’re breaking down what a thyroid does, some symptoms that something could be wrong, and common thyroid conditions with our endocrinologist Krishnamallika Mutayala, MD.
what does your thyroid do?
The thyroid is an endocrine gland that sits in middle of the neck. It is regulated by area of the brain called the pituitary gland. The pituitary gland releases hormones, which tell the thyroid to produce hormones. Thyroid hormones have many jobs. They:
- Influence metabolism and growth
- Help regulate heart rate, blood pressure, energy level, how efficiently we use calories
- Determine how warm or cold we feel
- Are critical for brain development in young children
what are some signs or symptoms of thyroid issues in kids?
There are two major categories of thyroid issues. Hypothyroidism is when you produce too little thyroid hormone, which makes the body use energy more slowly. Hyperthyroidism is when you produce too much thyroid medicine, which makes the body use energy more quickly. We’ll break down the symptoms below:
- Poor growth
- Weight gain
- Low energy levels
- Excessive sleepiness
- Dry skin
- Hair loss
- Cold intolerance
- Goiter (thyroid enlargement)
- Slow heart rate
- Delayed puberty
- Heavy menstrual cycles
- Weight loss
- High energy levels
- Decreased focus
- Fast heart rate
- High blood pressure
- Heat intolerance
- Prominence of eyes
- Lighter periods
how are thyroid problems usually diagnosed?
Thyroid problems can be identified by a pediatrician or family doctor, or by other subspecialists like ENT gastroenterology, allergists and emergency physicians. They would then refer to an endocrinologist. Some children should be screened for hypothyroidism, like children who fail the thyroid point of a newborn screening, children with short stature and children who have had a severe brain injury or abnormal development.
how do we treat thyroid issues?
- Hypothyroidism: In most cases, hypothyroidism can be treated with thyroid hormone replacement pills. The pills can be given to patients of all ages, from newborn to adult.
- Hyperthyroidism: Most children and adolescents with hyperthyroidism will be started on anti-thyroid medication when they’re diagnosed. For patients with severe symptoms, a medicine called a beta-blocker will be added to help decrease symptoms while the anti-thyroid medications take effect.
schedule an appointment for a thyoid consultation
Do you think your child might be having issues with their thyroid? Schedule an appointment online today with one of our pediatric endocrinologists to have them evaluated. No referral is necessary.