Thyroid is an endocrinal gland that is located just above the collarbone. It is found in the front of the neck just below the Adam’s apple. This butterfly-shaped gland helps in making hormones that help in regulating many of the metabolic body processes.
Thyroid manufactures the following hormones using iodine from the blood,
- Thyroxine (T4): is the primary hormone
- Triiodothyronine (T3): is the active hormone manufactured by converting T4.
The brain regulates the thyroid’s function by a feedback mechanism. When thyroid hormone levels go down, the hypothalamus starts producing the Thyrotropin Release Hormone (TRH). This causes the pituitary gland to release Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH), which in turn stimulates the thyroid to produce more T4.
Disorders affecting the pituitary gland and hypothalamus can drastically affect the function of the thyroid causing thyroid problems as they control the thyroid.
Some of the diseases that can affect the thyroid are:
- Hypothyroidism: is the medical condition where the thyroid is not able to produce the right thyroid hormone. If this condition is prolonged it can lead to Myxedema coma. Hypothyroidism is known to cause cretinism or mental retardation in newborns and infant.
Some of the causes are:
- Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis: is an autoimmune disease, i.e., the condition where the immune system of the body itself attacks the thyroid tissue reducing its hormone production, leading to stopping the production completely.
- Thyroid gland removal: if it is performed either surgically or chemically.
- Irregular Amounts of Iodine,
- Prescription medicines,
- Contrast dyes used for X-rays
- Lithium drug etc.
Some of the common symptoms are:
Dry, thinning hair
Mild Weight Gain
Pale, puffy face
Heavy & irregular menstruation
- Hyperthyroidism: is the medical condition where the thyroid overproduces the thyroid hormone.
Graves’ Disease, being an autoimmune disease, is a major cause where the level of T4 hormone rises and TSH level lowers. The high absorption of iodine was found to be another cause.
The common symptoms include:
Fast heart rate
Increased Bowel Movement
- Goiter: is the medical condition where the thyroid gland enlarges, which in turn, swells up the neck. This is due to the gland’s improper functioning from iodine deficiency and is associated with hyperthyroidism too.
Some of the typical symptoms are:
Coughing or Wheezing
- Thyroid Nodules: is a medical condition where growths called nodules starts appearing on or inside the thyroid gland. These solid or fluid sacs that constitute the nodules are caused due to iodine deficiency and Hashimoto’s disease.
Some of the symptoms are:
Intolerant to cold
- Thyroid Cancer: usually occurs rarely, around 5% of the thyroid Nodules end up as cancer. Patients undergoing acne treatment using radiation have a higher risk. Some of the types of cancer that can affect the thyroid are:
- Papillary Cancer: is common where it spreads to the lymph nodes, enlarging it. It can even spread throughout the body if left unchecked and no possible cause has been found.
- Medullary Cancer: is usually caused by calcitonin produced by the thyroid’s C Cells.
- Follicular Cancer: is more aggressive than papillary cancer where vascular invasion and distant metastasis to the lungs, bones, brain, liver, bladder, and skin is common.
- Hurthle Cell Cancer: targets the hurthle cells, which in turn, can affect the neck or spread to the lymph nodes, lungs or bone.
- Anaplastic Cancer: is the condition where a large and hard neck mass occurs, which grow rapidly, spreading to lungs and bones.
The treatment options recommended by the doctor would depend on the particular thyroid disease or disorder. Some of the treatment options are:
- Thyroid Medications: are prescribed to
- Manage the production of thyroid hormone, increasing it in hypothyroidism and decreasing in hyperthyroidism.
- Some medications are given to help manage the symptoms of hyperthyroidism.
- Radioactive Ablation: is performed in cases where medications cannot control hyperthyroidism. It usually involves the destroying of the thyroid tissue selectively using radioactive iodine.
- Thyroid Surgery: might be recommended for:
- Removal of large goiter or a hyperfunctioning nodule present in the gland
- Removal of Thyroid cancer
- Grave’s Disease