Thyroid disorders occur when the production of the thyroid hormone is too much (overactive thyroid disease or hyperthyroidism), or too little (underactive thyroid disease or hypothyroidism).
Thyroid glands are shape like butterfly and are located in front of the trachea (wind pipe) below the voice box (larynx). Thyroid glands produce thyroid hormones thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3). These hormones play an important role in regulating body temperature, energy, body's use of other hormones and vitamins, metabolic rate and also help in the growth and maturating of the body tissues.
Thyroid disorders sometimes lead to enlargement of the thyroid gland. Generally, women are more likely than men to have thyroid disorder, especially after pregnancy and menopause.
Thyroid disorders include:
Hypothyroidism is the condition when the thyroid gland do not produce enough thyroid hormones. This slows down the body's metabolism. The most common cause of hypothyroidism is Hashimoto's disease. In people with Hashimoto's disease, the immune system mistakenly attacks the thyroid, which further damages the gland, so that it does not make enough hormones.
Hypothyroidism can also be caused by:
Hypothyroidism can be treated in the form of supplements of the thyroid hormone, for the rest of your life.
The overactive thyroid gland produces excessive amount of thyroid hormones resulting in increased body metabolism. This causes symptoms of nervousness, anxiety, rapid heartbeat, sweating, weight-loss etc.
Hyperthyroidism can be treated by antithyroid drugs, radioiodine or surgery. Treatment kills the thyroid cells producing thyroid hormones which may sometimes lead to permanent hypothyroidism. The removal of thyroid gland may also cause permanent hypothyroidism.
Unusual enlargement of thyroid gland is referred to as goiter. Goiter is more common in women, than in men. Goiter may happen for a short period of time and eventually decrease without any treatment. Few causes of goiter include Hashimoto's disease, Grave's disease, thyroid cancer or nodules.
It is the cancerous condition which occurs in the thyroid cells. Abnormal growth in the thyroid cells is referred to as thyroid cancer. The etiology of thyroid cancer is not clear. The possible causes could be DNA damage or exposure to radiations.
Symptoms of thyroid cancer include lumps or swelling in the neck, trouble in swallowing, breathing and pain in the neck and ears. Biopsy helps in the diagnosis of thyroid cancer. Treatment of thyroid cancer depends upon the type and stage of thyroid cancer the person is suffering from. Thyroid cancer can be treated by surgery or radioactive iodine treatment.
A thyroid nodule is a swelling or formation of lumps in the thyroid gland. The nodule may be solid or filled with fluid or blood. You may have just one thyroid nodule or many. These are most commonly seen in women when compared to men. Thyroid nodules are not always serious, as they are most of the time non-cancerous (benign) and does not cause any symptoms. But, when any symptoms are observed, one must consult a doctor immediately.
Thyroid disorders are diagnosed by initial physical examination, clinical history and further confirmed by a few blood tests.
Thyroid disorders can be treated by medication or surgery as required. Treatment options vary depending upon the thyroid condition.
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