Thyroid disorders are generally problems of both the autoimmune system and then endocrine system. While there are several specific diseases that can cause thyroid issues people will fall into one of two categories; hypothyroid or hyperthyroid.
Hypothyroid is generally the easier of the two to treat and less risky to the patient. This side of the disorder is cause by the under production of the thyroid hormones. The under production results in a general slowing of the body. Symptoms include fatigue, weight gain, hair loss, dry skin and easily feeling cold to name a few. Hypothyroid symptoms are treated by a synthetic thyroid replacement system. This treatment mimics what the body is supposed to be doing naturally. It may take a while for patient and doctor to determine the correct dosage but once a balance is achieved the patient can resume a normal healthy life so long as they stay on their medication. One of the biggest downsides however, is that the patient will have to remain medicated for the rest of their life but if properly treated the disorder should never interfere with normal activities.
Hyperthyroidism is the opposite of Hypothyroidism. With a disease causing this reaction the body is over producing thyroid hormones causing a general speeding up of the metabolism and body in general. Symptoms include difficulty focusing mentally, sweating, difficulty sleeping, heart palpitations and anxiety. This side of the disorder can be slightly more dangerous to the patient because they are at risk of suffering from a thyroid storm; meaning a sudden increase of thyroid hormone to the body that can overwhelm it and be life threatening. This too can be treated by medication in pill form however only about 2 percent of people will achieve a full recovery with medication alone. Most people will continue to struggle with their disorder until further interventions are required. These interventions can include radiation treatment via radio-iodine being introduced to the body so it is only absorbed by the thyroid resulting in the destruction of the thyroid tissue. This destruction then leaves the patient as hypothyroid which is easier to manage long term.
While thyroid disorders can certainly interrupt a persons life they do not have to be all together terrible and in fact can usually be managed fairly easily.