The role of your thyroid is one crucial function no one can ever neglect. It is responsible for creating and producing hormones that play critical roles in numerous different systems throughout the body. Hence, any imbalance – either too much or too little – in the secretion of these vital hormones can lead to what we call thyroid diseases. There are several types of these so-called ailments that no one should take for granted, but rather, should be taken care of as soon as possible. Let’s talk about some of these diseases, what causes them, some symptoms that indicate them, and treatments that would be helpful for their cure. Come on.
But first, what is the thyroid?
The thyroid formally called the thyroid gland, is a small organ located in the front of the neck, wrapping another organ called the trachea, or the windpipe. Its shape resembles that of a butterfly – more minor in the middle part while two broad wings extend around the side of the throat. It is one of the glands you have throughout your body, and like many others, forms and secretes substances helpful for specific tasks for your body’s many functions. The thyroid creates hormones that help control and regulate a lot of essential body functions.
One primary role of the thyroid is the releasing and controlling of hormones that regulate metabolism. Metabolism is the transformation of the food you consume and take in into energy used by the body. This vital energy ensures body systems are correctly working. Metabolism is like a generator – it takes in raw energy form then uses it to give power to something bigger.
These functions are all supervised by the pituitary gland. It is located in the center of your skull just below your brain and controls the number of hormones the thyroid secretes to your bloodstream. As a regulator, the pituitary gland will use its hormones to adjust and balance if it senses any lack of thyroid hormone or high levels of other body hormones. The one it produces is called TSH, or the Thyroid Stimulating Hormone. It is sent to the thyroid and tells it what needs to be done to get everything back on track.
Next, what are thyroid diseases?
In general, thyroid disease is a term for medical conditions that hinder the thyroid gland from functioning well in hormone production. Because of its primary function to produce hormones that keep your body working well, your body uses energy too fast once the thyroid makes too much of its hormone. This condition is what we call hyperthyroidism, wherein quickly-used energy will make you exhausted and can make your heart beat faster, cause weight loss even without any efforts in doing it, and always make you fell off the edge and nervous. On the other hand, too little production of thyroid hormones results in what we call hypothyroidism. This condition can also make you tired but will likely cause weight gain and make you vulnerable to low or cold temperatures.
What are some causes and symptoms of thyroid diseases?
Hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism are the two main types of thyroid diseases. Both of these conditions can spring from other illnesses that significantly impact the way the thyroid gland works.
Conditions that can cause hypothyroidism
- Thyroiditis – is an inflammation or swelling of the thyroid gland. It can lower the number of hormones your thyroid produces.
- Hashimoto’s thyroiditis – is a painless disease and is an autoimmune condition where the body’s cells attack and cause damage to the thyroid. Typically, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is an inherited condition.
- Postpartum thyroiditis – is a condition that occurs in 5-9% of women after giving birth. However, it is usually a temporary condition.
- Iodine deficiency – is a deficiency of iodine, a vital component in the thyroid’s hormone production. It is an issue that significantly affects millions of people around the world.
- Non-functional thyroid gland – a rare incident wherein the thyroid gland does not work correctly from conception. This dysfunction affects about 1 in 4,000 newborns, and if left untreated, could cause both physical and mental issues in the future. Because of this, all newborns are given screening blood tests in the hospital to check their thyroid function.
Some symptoms of hypothyroidism are as follows:
- Weight gain
- Frequent and heavy menstrual periods
- Intolerance to cold temperatures
- Dry and coarse hair
- Hoarse voice
Conditions that can cause hyperthyroidism
- Graves’ disease – is a condition wherein the entire thyroid gland becomes overactive and produces too much hormone. It is also called diffuse toxic goiter or an enlarged thyroid gland.
- Nodules – are called toxic autonomously functioning thyroid nodules, while a gland of several nodules is called a toxic multi-nodular goiter. Hyperthyroidism can result from nodules that are overactive inside the thyroid.
- Thyroiditis – is a disorder that can either be painful or having nothing felt at all. In this condition, the thyroid release hormones that get stored there and there. This condition is known to last for a few weeks or months.
- Excessive iodine – having too much iodine, or the mineral that is used to make thyroid hormones, in your body makes the thyroid produce more thyroid hormones than what it usually needs. Excessive iodine is be found in some medications like amiodarone which is a heart medication, and cough syrups.
Some symptoms of hyperthyroidism are as follows:
- Goiter, or an enlarged thyroid gland
- Anxiety, irritability, and nervousness
- Muscle weakness and tremors
- Weight loss
- Sleep issues
- Irregular menstrual periods or stopping of the menstrual cycle
- Sensitivity to heat
- Vision problems or eye irritation
What are some treatments for thyroid diseases?
Returning your thyroid hormone levels to normal is a primary goal any healthcare provider will have in terms of your health and well-being. Depending on what caused your thyroid condition in the first place, various ways and specific treatments are available for you to try.
If you have hyperthyroidism), treatments can include:
- Anti-thyroid drugs (methimazole and propylthiouracil) – stops the thyroid from making hormones.
- Radioactive iodine – damages thyroid cells, hindering them from making high levels of thyroid hormones.
- Beta-blockers – don’t change the number of hormones in your body but help control your symptoms.
- Surgery – surgically removing your thyroid or the process of thyroidectomy is a more permanent form of treatment that will stop the creation of hormones. However, this option will require thyroid replacement hormones intake for the rest of your life.
If you have hyperthyroidism), treatments can include:
- Thyroid replacement medications are drugs that use synthetic (or artificial) ways to add thyroid hormones back into your body’s circulation. Levothyroxine is a drug commonly used to control this thyroid disease and allow you to live your everyday life.
What are our final thoughts about thyroid diseases?
Taking everything in – all the things we have discussed today can be quite an info overload. But it is very beneficial to know all of these and can make or break situations in the future. So, try to ponder everything and even research a bit more to be equipped with all the information you need, especially if you or other family members and essential people experience these said conditions. We can fight the battle against thyroid diseases if we can take advantage of crucial information like the one we have for you’re here today.
If you still have questions or other concerns or want to learn more about thyroid diseases, our great friends from Cache Valley ENT are the best and experts to help you with anything today! Don’t hesitate to visit them to know more! https://cachevalleyent.com/