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Thyroid disease

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Thyroid is a small gland located at the centre of the lower neck. It secretes two hormones T4 and T3, which primarily control metabolism of the body. Thyroid disease refers to a condition that affects normal functioning of the thyroid gland.

 

What are the different types of thyroid diseases?

Goitre: Enlargement of the thyroid gland either due to overactive or underactive thyroid gland.

Hyperthyroidism: The thyroid gland produces too much thyroid hormone. It’s also termed as overactive thyroid. It leads to several other disorders like: 

  • Grave’s disease- Entire thyroid gland becomes overactive. It is also known as diffuse toxic goitre
  • Toxic adenomas- Single or multiple nodules form in the thyroid gland which increases production of thyroid hormones
  • Thyroditis- Inflammation in the thyroid gland occurs due to infections or autoimmunity. Different types of thyroditis are Hashimoto thyroiditis, subacute thyroiditis, painless thyroiditis, suppurative thyroiditis, etc.

Hypothyroidism: The condition is also known as underactive thyroid. Low amounts of thyroid hormones are present in the body due to reduced function of the thyroid gland. Hypothyroidism occurs due to the following reasons: 

  • Autoimmunity- For example from Hashimoto thyroiditis, from pituitary diseases
  • Surgical removal of thyroid gland or chemical destruction with radioactive iodine
  • From severe deficiency of iodine
  • Side effects of medicines 
Thyroid cancer: It’s quite an uncommon form of cancer. Nodules or tumours start forming in the thyroid gland and they can be felt as a lump in the neck. People who are exposed to high doses of radiation therapy or have a family history of thyroid cancer are at high risk of having thyroid cancer.

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What are the symptoms of thyroid disease?

Overproduction or deficiency in thyroid hormones affects your metabolism directly, which gives rise to the following symptoms:

Hyperthyroidism 

  • Sudden weight loss but increased appetite
  • Sweating, fatigue
  • Nervousness, shaking, anxiety
  • Increased bowel frequency
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Swelling in lower neck
  • Increased heat sensitivity
  • Hair loss due brittleness
  • Change in menstrual flow


Hypothyroidism

  • Considerable weight gain
  • Fatigue, too much sleepiness
  • Change in mood
  • Swelling in leg
  • Dry and roughness in hair and skin
  • Intolerance to cold
Thyroid cancer:
  • Hoarseness in voice
  • Lump and swelling the neck
  • Pain in and around neck and ears
  • Wheezing, breathing problems and coughing

 

Diagnosis of thyroid disease

Your doctor will evaluate the symptoms carefully and check your medical history and previous incident of surgery. Let your doctor know if you are taking medicines. 

Diagnostic tests for thyroid disease are:

Blood tests are done to check TSH level (as it is an indication for an overactive or underactive thyroid) and T3 and T4 levels. Immunity test may also be done if your doctor suspects infections.

Thyroid scan with radioactive iodine can detect presence of lumps and nodules in thyroid gland. USG of thyroid gland is also performed.

Your doctor might ask you to swallow radioactive iodine, which is absorbed by the thyroid gland, depending upon its efficiency. The activity of the thyroid gland is then measured by a probe.

Biopsy of the thyroid gland is performed to confirm presence of cancer.

TSH test

Treatment of thyroid disease

Hyperthyroidism involves several lines of treatment like use of anti-thyroid medicine and beta blockers.

Radioiodine may be use to destroy the overactive thyroid or surgical removal of the thyroid gland may be recommended. The same treatment applies for nodules, enlarged thyroid gland (goitre) and cancer.

Your doctor is most likely to prescribe thyroid hormone supplements post surgery.

Treatment of hypothyroidism involves external dose of thyroid hormones, namely T3 and T4 for the purpose of restoring normal function of thyroid gland. Medicines typically used are levothyroxine and liothyronine. Additionally, your doctor might also prescribe iodine supplements.

Written by: healthplus24.com team
Date last updated: March 13, 2014