The World Health Organization estimates about 750 million people around the world suffer from a thyroid malfunction. Women are up to eight times more likely to experience disorders than men.

The thyroid gland is at the front of the neck below the Adam’s apple and is essential for producing hormones. The main role of the thyroid is to produce and release the hormones that your body uses to determine how much energy to use, regulate the body’s metabolism (including heart rate and body temperature) and growth.

Thyroid problems happen when the gland produces too much or too little of the hormones. In some cases, thyroid disorders are caused by problems with the pituitary gland and hypothalamus which control the thyroid gland.

In some cases, thyroid conditions can cause the thyroid gland to become enlarged (goitre) which can cause symptoms relating to swallowing or discomfort in the neck.

What are causes of thyroid disorders?

It includes:

  • Graves’ disease an autoimmune condition that causes over-active thyroid
  • Toxic adenomas which are nodules that develop in the thyroid and produce hormones which can be contained in goitres
  • Subacute thyroiditis, where the thyroid becomes inflamed and leaks additional hormones which causes temporarily high levels of hormones and can last up to a few months
  • Pituitary gland problems
  • Cancerous tumours in the thyroid gland


Hypothyroidism or an underactive thyroid means not enough thyroid hormones are being produced and this causes the metabolism to slow down.

Symptoms are lower energy levels, weight gain and depression.

Both men and women can be affected but it’s more common in women and around 1 in 3,500-4,000 babies are born with the condition (congenital hypothyroidism).

Causes include:

  • Hashimoto’s disease – an autoimmune disorder
  • Damage to or removal of the thyroid gland (for example, during cancer treatment)
  • Over-exposure to iodine from medications


Hyperthyroidism or an overactive thyroid means relatively more thyroid hormones are being produced.

Symptoms include feeling anxious, nervous or irritable, mood swings, palpitations, swelling in the neck and losing weight unexpectedly.

 It’s around 10 times more common in women than men and starts between the ages of 20-30.

Causes include:

  • Graves’ disease (an autoimmune disease)
  • Lumps (nodules) on the thyroid, leading to over-production of hormones
  • Certain Medications, some of which are used for irregular heartbeat


Thyroid nodules are lumps in the thyroid gland. Usually harmless, they are more common in women and often develop during pregnancy and around the menopause.

An enlarged thyroid gland that causes a lump on the front of the neck is called ‘goitre’; the lump moves up and down when you swallow. Most goitres are small and don’t cause symptoms. However, in some cases it may cause coughing, a tight feeling in the throat, difficulty swallowing (dysphagia), changes in the voice and even difficulty breathing


There are four types of thyroid cancer including:

  • The most common type, papillary carcinoma, which mainly affects people aged under 40
  • Follicular carcinoma (affects around 10% of patients, mainly in middle-age)
  • Medullary thyroid carcinoma (rare, affecting less than 1 in 10 patients)
  • The most rare, anaplastic thyroid carcinoma, is the most serious type and usually affects patients aged over 60

Amber Clinic has dedicated endocrinology clinic and our endocrinologists offers  a range of treatments and lifestyle changes to effectively manage and treat thyroid conditions.

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