What is thyroid disorder?
Thyroid disorder is a medical condition that affects the function of the thyroid gland. The thyroid gland is a butterfly-shaped organ located at the front of the neck. It produces thyroid hormones that travel through the blood to help regulate many other organs, such as the heart, brain, muscles and skin. Thyroid hormones also affect metabolism, growth, development and body temperature.
Thyroid disorder occurs when the thyroid gland produces too much or too little thyroid hormones. This can cause various symptoms and complications, depending on the type and severity of the disorder.
What are the types of thyroid disorder?
There are several types of thyroid disorder, each with different causes and effects. Some of the most common types are:
- Hyperthyroidism: This is when the thyroid gland produces too much thyroid hormones, causing the body to use energy too quickly. Hyperthyroidism can be caused by an autoimmune condition called Graves’ disease, thyroid nodules (benign or malignant growths), thyroiditis (inflammation of the thyroid) or excessive intake of iodine or thyroid
- Hypothyroidism: This is when the thyroid gland produces too little thyroid hormones, causing the body to use energy too slowly. Hypothyroidism can be caused by an autoimmune condition called Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, iodine deficiency, surgical removal or radiation treatment of the thyroid, congenital defects or certain
- Thyroid nodules: These are lumps or growths that form in or on the thyroid Most nodules are benign (noncancerous) and do not cause any symptoms. However, some nodules can be malignant (cancerous) or produce excess thyroid hormones.
- Thyroid cancer: This is a rare type of cancer that originates from the cells of the thyroid Thyroid cancer can cause symptoms such as a lump in the neck, hoarseness, difficulty swallowing or breathing, or swollen lymph nodes.
- Thyroiditis: This is a general term for inflammation of the thyroid gland. There are different types of thyroiditis, such as Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, postpartum thyroiditis, subacute thyroiditis and silent thyroiditis. Thyroiditis can cause hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism, depending on the stage and duration of the
What are the symptoms of thyroid disorder?
The symptoms of thyroid disorder vary depending on whether the thyroid gland produces too much or too little hormones. Some of the common symptoms are:
- Weight changes: Hyperthyroidism can cause weight loss, while hypothyroidism can cause weight
- Mood changes: Hyperthyroidism can cause anxiety, irritability and nervousness, while hypothyroidism can cause depression, fatigue and
- Heart problems: Hyperthyroidism can cause palpitations, high blood pressure and increased heart rate, while hypothyroidism can cause low blood pressure and slow heart
- Skin problems: Hyperthyroidism can cause warm, moist and smooth skin, while hypothyroidism can cause dry, coarse and cold
- Hair problems: Hyperthyroidism can cause thinning and brittle hair, while hypothyroidism can cause hair loss and dry
- Menstrual problems: Hyperthyroidism can cause irregular or light periods, while hypothyroidism can cause heavy or absent
- Fertility problems: Both hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism can affect ovulation and sperm production, leading to difficulty conceiving or
How is thyroid disorder diagnosed?
Thyroid disorder is diagnosed by measuring the levels of thyroid hormones (T4 and T3) and thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) in the blood. TSH is a hormone produced by the pituitary gland that regulates the activity of the thyroid gland. A high TSH level indicates hypothyroidism, while a low TSH level indicates hyperthyroidism.
Other tests that may be done to diagnose thyroid disorder include:
- Thyroid ultrasound: This is a painless procedure that uses sound waves to create images of the thyroid gland and detect any nodules or
- Thyroid scan: This is a procedure that involves injecting a radioactive substance into the bloodstream and taking pictures of the thyroid gland with a special camera. This can show how the thyroid gland functions and whether there are any nodules or cancerous
- Thyroid biopsy: This is a procedure that involves taking a small sample of tissue from the thyroid gland and examining it under a microscope. This can confirm the diagnosis of thyroid cancer or other
How is thyroid disorder treated?
The treatment of thyroid disorder depends on the type and severity of the condition. Some of the common treatments are:
- Medication: For hyperthyroidism, antithyroid drugs such as methimazole or propylthiouracil can block the production of thyroid hormones. For hypothyroidism, synthetic thyroid hormone such as levothyroxine can replace the missing
- Radioactive iodine: This is a treatment for hyperthyroidism that involves taking a pill or liquid that contains a radioactive form of iodine. The iodine is absorbed by the thyroid gland and destroys some or all of the overactive cells, reducing the hormone
- Surgery: This is a treatment for hyperthyroidism, thyroid nodules or thyroid cancer that involves removing part or all of the thyroid After surgery, the patient may need to take thyroid hormone replacement for life.
What are the complications of thyroid disorder?
If left untreated, thyroid disorder can lead to serious complications, such as:
- Heart disease: Both hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism can increase the risk of developing heart problems, such as arrhythmia, heart failure, angina or
- Osteoporosis: Hyperthyroidism can cause bone loss and increase the risk of fractures, especially in postmenopausal
- Myxedema coma: This is a rare but life-threatening complication of severe hypothyroidism that causes low body temperature, low blood pressure, slow breathing and mental It requires immediate medical attention.
- Thyroid storm: This is a rare but life-threatening complication of severe hyperthyroidism that causes high fever, rapid heart rate, agitation and delirium. It requires immediate medical
How to prevent thyroid disorder?
Some types of thyroid disorder, such as autoimmune conditions or cancer, cannot be prevented. However, some lifestyle factors can help reduce the risk or severity of thyroid disorder, such as:
- Eating a balanced diet that provides enough iodine, selenium and other nutrients for thyroid
- Avoiding excessive intake of iodine or goitrogens (substances that interfere with thyroid function), such as kelp, soy or
- Avoiding smoking, alcohol and other substances that can affect the thyroid
- Managing stress levels and practicing relaxation
- Getting regular check-ups and blood tests to monitor thyroid
Thyroid disorder is a common condition that affects millions of people worldwide. It can cause various symptoms and complications that affect the quality of life. However, with proper diagnosis and treatment, most people with thyroid disorder can live normal and healthy lives.