What is a Thyroid Gland
An endocrine gland located in the neck of human beings and other vertebrate animals that secretes the hormones responsible for controlling metabolism and growth. Excessive action of the thyroid gland can cause Graves’ Disease, while under activity can cause Myxedema.
- Watch “How a Thyroid Removal Surgery is performed” Video
- Watch “Total Thyroidectomy for Removal of Goitre” Video
Overview of Thyroid Disease
The Thyroid Gland influences almost all of the metabolic processes in your body. Thyroid disorders can range from a small, harmless Goiter (Enlarged Gland) that needs no treatment to life-threatening cancer.
The most common thyroid problems involve abnormal production of Thyroid Hormones. Too much thyroid hormone results in a condition known as Hyperthyroidism. Insufficient hormone production leads to Hypothyroidism. Although the effects can be unpleasant or uncomfortable, most Thyroid Problems can be managed well if properly diagnosed and treated.
Types of Thyroid Disease
All types of hyperthyroidism are due to an overproduction of thyroid hormones, but the condition can occur in several ways:
- Graves ‘disease: The production of too much thyroid hormone.
- Toxic adenomas: Nodules develop in the thyroid gland and begin to secrete thyroid hormones, upsetting the body’s chemical balance; some Goiters may contain several of these nodules.
- Subacute thyroiditis: inflammation of the Thyroid causes the gland to “leak” excess hormones, resulting in temporary hyperthyroidism that generally lasts a few weeks but may persist for months.
- Pituitary gland malfunctions or cancerous growths in the thyroid gland: Although rare, hyperthyroidism can also develop from these causes.
Hypothyroidism, by contrast, stems from an underproduction of thyroid hormones. Since your body’s energy production requires certain amounts of thyroid hormones, a drop in hormone production leads to lower energy levels. Causes of hypothyroidism include:
- Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis: In this autoimmune disorder, the body attacks thyroid tissue. The tissue eventually dies and stops producing hormones.
- Removal of The Thyroid Gland: The thyroid may be surgically removed or chemically destroyed as treatment for hyperthyroidism.
- Exposure to excessive amounts of iodide: Cold and sinus medicines, the heart medicine amiodarone, or certain contrast dyes given before some X-rays may expose you to too much iodine. You may be at greater risk for developing hypothyroidism, especially if you have had thyroid problems in the past.
- Lithium: This drug has also been linked as a cause of hypothyroidism. Untreated for long periods of time, hypothyroidism can bring on a myxedema coma, a rare but potentially fatal condition that requires immediate hormone injections.
Cancer Of The Thyroid Gland is quite rare and occurs in less than 10% of thyroid nodules. You might have one or more thyroid nodules for several years before they are determined to be cancerous. People who have received radiation treatment to the head and neck earlier in life, possibly as a remedy for acne, tend to have a higher-than-normal propensity for thyroid cancer.
Symptoms of Thyroid Disease
Symptoms of Hypothyroidism in Infants can include:
- Poor feeding
- Poor growth
- Jaundice (yellow discoloration of the skin and eyes)
- Excessive tiredness
Symptoms of Hypothyroidism in children include:
- Symptoms similar to adult symptoms
- Excessive fatigue
- Poor growth
- Poor school performance
Symptoms of Hypothyroidism in adults include:
- Easy fatigue, exhaustion
- Poor tolerance to cold temperatures
- Carpal tunnel syndrome (pain at the wrists and numbness of the hands)
- Poor appetite
- Weight gain
- Dry skin
- Hair loss
- Intellectual ability worsens
- Deeper, hoarse voice
- Puffiness around the eyes
- Irregular menstrual periods or lack of menstrual periods
Hyperthyroidism (Overactive Thyroid) Signs and Symptoms
Symptoms of Hyperthyroidism in Children include:
- Symptoms similar to adult symptoms
- Declining school performance
- Behavior problems
Symptoms of Hyperthyroidism in Adultsinclude:
- Hand tremors
- Feeling excessively hot in normal or cold temperatures
- Frequent bowel movements
- Losing weight despite normal or increased appetite
- Excessive sweating
- Menstrual period becomes scant, or ceases altogether
- Joint pains
- Difficulty concentrating
- Eyes seem to be enlarging
Symptoms of Hyperthyroidism in the Elderly may cause:
- Worsening of angina (chest pain) in persons with heart disease
- Worsening of shortness of breath in persons with heart failure
Thyroid Nodules and Goiter Signs and Symptoms
- The only sign of goiter or nodule is an enlargement in the lower part of the front part of the neck. This enlargement is often not painful or bothersome.
- When the nodule or goiter becomes large, there can be pressure on the surrounding normal structures in the neck including the esophagus (swallowing tube), trachea (breathing tube) and the blood vessels that bring blood to and from the head.
Diagnosis of Thyroid Disease
- Needle Biopsy
- Thyroid Diseases Tests
- Thyroid Function Tests
- Thyroid Scan and Uptake
- Ultrasound of the Thyroid Gland
Treatment of Thyroid Disease
- Medicines for Hypothyroidism
- Radioactive Iodine (I-131)
- Thyroid Hormone Treatment
- Thyroid Medications
- Thyroid Surgery
Risk Factors for Thyroid Disease
Some of the key risk factors for thyroid disease include…
- Female: Women are at greater risk than men.
- Age – being 50 and above poses the highest risk of thyroid disease, though it can strike at any age.
- A personal or family history of thyroid and/or autoimmune disease increases risk.
- Surgical removal of all or part of the thyroid, or radioactive iodine treatment to the thyroid — both which typically result in an under active thyroid.
- Being left-handed, ambidextrous or prematurely gray mean greater risk of autoimmune disease, including thyroid problems
- Being pregnant or within the first year after childbirth
- Current or former smoker
- Recent exposure to iodine via contrast dye or surgical antiseptic
- Iodine or herbal supplements containing iodine, in pill or liquid form
- Living in an iodine-deficient area
- Various medical treatments, including Interferon Beta-1b, Interleukin-4, immuno-suppressants, antiretrovirals, monoclonal antibody (Campath-1H), bone marrow transplant, Lithium, amiodarone (Cordarone), and other medications
- Over-consumption of raw goitrogenic foods, i.e., Brussel sprouts, turnips, cauliflower, soy products and others
- Over-consumption of soy foods
- Recent neck trauma, biopsy, injection or surgery
- Radiation exposure, through radiation to neck area, or exposure to nuclear facility or accident, i.e., Chernobyl
- High stress life events
- Graves ‘ Disease – An Autoimmune Disorder (healthinessbox.com)