Thyroid Disorders, Causes, Symptoms & Diagnosis

The thyroid is a small butterfly-shaped gland that regulates body metabolism by producing thyroid hormones. The thyroid gland is located at the base of the neck, just underneath Adam's apple. The thyroid hormone produced by the gland travels through the bloodstream to all the parts of the body.

If the hormone is overproduced, it leads to hyperthyroidism. If the hormone is under-produced, it causes hypothyroidism. This hormonal imbalance may also result in the growth of the thyroid that is commonly known as goitre.

The Different Thyroid Disorders

Thyroid disorders are commonly caused by the over or under-production of the hormone thyroxine.

1. Hypothyroidism

This auto-immune condition causes the person’s immune system to create antibodies signaling the thyroid gland to produce less thyroid hormone than the body's need.

2. Hyperthyroidism, also known as the Grave’s disease

This auto-immune condition causes the person’s immune system to create antibodies signaling the thyroid gland to grow and produce excessive thyroid hormone than the body's need.

3. Goitre

The enlargement of the thyroid gland is regarded as the condition known as Goitre. There is no specific cause of goitre. In fact, it is not regarded as a disease. Rather, goitre may be associated with hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism, or normal thyroid function.

4. Thyroid Nodules

Thyroid nodules are abnormal masses or kinds of lumps. They are within the thyroid gland. Benign cysts, benign tumors, or thyroid cancers are the causes of the thyroid nodules. The size and the number of the nodules may be single or multiple and can even vary. Excessively large nodules can cause symptoms such as compression of the nearby structures.

5. Thyroid cancer

Thyroid cancer is a disease that is much more common among adult women than men or youth. People under the age of 55 are at the risk of developing thyroid cancer. Thyroid cancer types depend upon the specific cell type within the thyroid that has become cancerous.

Most thyroid cancer patients have a high survival rate if diagnosed in its early stages.

Causes

1. Hypothyroidism

  • Due to the insufficient production of thyroxine
  • Hashimoto’s disease (inflammation of the thyroid gland)
  • Pituitary gland damage
  • Turner Syndrome

2. Hyperthyroidism, also known as the Grave’s disease

  • Over secretion of the hormone thyroxine
  • Multimodal Goitre

Symptoms

1. Hypothyroidism

  • Fatigue
  • Dry Skin
  • Constipation
  • Muscle and joint ache
  • Fluid retention
  • Depression
  • Forgetfulness

2. Hyperthyroidism, also known as the Grave’s disease

  • Tremor
  • Nervousness
  • Fast heart rate
  • Increased bowel movement
  • Weight loss
  • Anxiety
  • Inflammation of the eyes

Diagnosis

1. Hypothyroidism

Blood tests are conducted to measure the amount of thyroid hormone and TSH (Thyroid Secreting Hormone) in a person’s blood.

2. Hyperthyroidism, also known as the Grave’s disease

Doctors usually look for the symptoms such as enlarged thyroid, a rapid pulse, tremors in the fingers, and moist, smooth skin.

Blood tests are conducted to measure the amount of thyroid hormone and TSH (Thyroid Secreting Hormone) in a person’s blood.

Treatment

1. Hypothyroidism

There is no such treatment for this condition. People suffering from this condition can undergo thyroid hormone replacement.

2. Hyperthyroidism, also known as the Grave’s disease

Beta-blockers are recommended to stop the overproduction of the hormone. This is a short term treatment.

Permanent treatment includes Antithyroid drugs, surgery, and radioactive iodine tablets.

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