The thyroid gland is located on the front part of the neck below the thyroid cartilage (Adam’s apple). Thyroid hormones are important in regulating body energy, body temperature, the body’s use of other hormones and vitamins, and the growth and maturation of body tissues. The thyroid gland is regulated by thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH), which is made by the pituitary gland in the brain. Problems occur when the thyroid gland becomes either under active (hypothyroidism) or overactive (hyperthyroidism).
Different Causes of Thyroid:
- Common cause of hypothyroidism is Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, an autoimmune condition where the body makes antibodies that destroy parts of the thyroid gland.
- Other causes include pituitary problems, hypothalamus problems, and iodine deficiency.
- Graves’ disease is also a cause of hyperthyroidism. This leads higher levels of thyroid hormones and overactivity .
- Adenomas, abnormal nodules of tissue in the thyroid, frequently produce thyroid hormones even when they are not needed.
- A pituitary tumor may cause TSH levels to rise, when the pituitary gland makes too much TSH, makes constant stimulation of the thyroid gland.
- Thyroiditis is a condition occurs when the thyroid gland becomes inflamed. Based on the type, this may cause temporary hyperthyroidism that might be followed by hypothyroidism.
Symptoms of Thyroid: Common symptoms includes-
- Coarse and dry hair
- Confusion or forgetfulness (often mistaken for dementia in seniors)
- Dry, scaly skin
- Fatigue or a feeling of sluggishness
- Hair loss
- Increased menstrual flow (women)
- Intolerance to cold temperatures
- Muscle cramps
- Slower heart rate
- Weight gain
Treatment and Prevention:
- Treatment for hypothyroidism is thyroid hormone replacement therapy. Thyroid replacement therapy do not cause side effects. If too much thyroid hormone is taken, symptoms can include shakiness, heart palpitations, and difficulty sleeping.
- Hyperthyroidism can be treated with iodine which includes radioactive iodine, anti-thyroid medications or surgery. This treatment can be enough to control hyperthyroidism. Radioactive iodine is used at low enough levels so that no damage is caused to the rest of the body. Larger doses of regular iodine, which does not destroy the thyroid gland, help block the release of thyroid hormones.
- Anti-thyroid medications may bring hyperthyroidism under control. Higher doses will work more quickly, but may cause side effects like skin rashes, nausea, loss of taste sensation, liver cell injury, and, rarely, a decrease of blood cell production in the bone marrow.
- If there are cancerous nodules, surgical removal of the thyroid gland may be required. If a non-cancerous nodule is causing breathing or swallowing problems or if the person cannot take radioactive iodine or antithyroid medications, or if these do not work or if a nodule that contains fluid continues to cause problems.
- Thyroid cancer treatment has a combination of thyroidectomy, radioactive iodine, radiation therapy, anticancer medications, and hormone suppression.