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Home > Disease > Thyroid Disease

Thyroid Disease

Thyroid Disease

Thyroid disease can affect a person's mood, weight and ability to work. In this article, discover the symptoms and treatments for thyroid dysfunction.

What is Thyroid Disease?

Thyroid disease is a general term for a disorder of the thyroid gland. The thyroid gland is a small, butterfly-shaped gland located in the front of the neck, just below Adam's apple. The thyroid's job is to make thyroid hormone, which is used by the body to regulate many different functions.

What are the Types of Thyroid Disease?

There are four main types of thyroid disease:

1. Hypothyroidism: This is when the thyroid gland doesn't produce enough thyroid hormone. This can be caused by a number of things, including autoimmune disease, pituitary disorders, or treatment for hyperthyroidism. Fatigue, weight gain, constipation, and depression are signs of hypothyroidism.

2. Hyperthyroidism: This is when the thyroid gland produces too much thyroid hormone. This can be caused by Graves' disease, an overactive pituitary gland, or a goiter. Symptoms of hyperthyroidism include anxiety, weight loss, irritability, and tremors.

3. Thyroiditis: This is when the thyroid gland becomes inflamed. There are several different types of thyroiditis, including autoimmune thyroiditis (Hashimoto's disease), postpartum thyroiditis (which happens after pregnancy), and subacute thyroiditis (which is often caused by a viral infection). Symptoms of thyroiditis include pain in the neck and throat area, fever, and fatigue.

4. Thyroid cancer: This is a rare type of cancer that begins in the cells of the thyroid gland. It can be difficult to detect early on because symptoms often mimic those of other types of illnesses or conditions. Common symptoms of thyroid cancer include a lump in the neck area, hoarseness, difficulty swallowing, and persistent pain in the neck or throat area.

Signs and Symptoms of Thyroid Disease

There are many different signs and symptoms of thyroid disease, and they vary depending on the individual and the severity of the condition. Some common signs and symptoms include fatigue, weight gain or loss, dry skin, hair loss, mood swings, difficulty concentrating, and changes in heart rate. If you experience any of these symptoms, it is important to consult with your doctor to determine if you have thyroid disease.

Diagnosis of Thyroid Disease

There are many ways to diagnose thyroid disease. The most common way is through a blood test. This can be done with a simple blood test that measures the level of thyroid hormone in your blood. If the levels are high, it may be an indication of hyperthyroidism, or overactive thyroid. If the levels are low, it may be an indication of hypothyroidism, or underactive thyroid. Additional tests that could be requested include:

- Thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) test: This measures the level of TSH in your blood. TSH is produced by the pituitary gland and helps to regulate the production of thyroid hormone by the thyroid gland.

- Thyroid ultrasound: This uses sound waves to create images of the thyroid gland. It can help to determine the size and shape of the gland, as well as any abnormal growths or nodules.

- Thyroid scan: This uses radioactive iodine to create images of the thyroid gland. It can help to determine if there is any abnormal uptake of iodine by the gland, which can indicate certain types of thyroid disorders.

Treatment for Thyroid Disease

There are many different types of treatment for thyroid disease, depending on the specific condition. In general, however, most treatments aim to either improve the function of the thyroid gland or to reduce the levels of thyroid hormone in the body.

For hyperthyroidism, which is when the thyroid gland produces too much hormone, treatment typically involves taking medication to reduce hormone production or destroying part of the gland with surgery or radiation. For hypothyroidism, which is when the thyroid gland doesn't produce enough hormone, treatment usually involves taking synthetic thyroid hormone to replace what's missing.

Thyroid disease can also be treated with radioactive iodine, which can help shrink an overactive gland or help destroy cancerous cells. Other treatments include lifestyle changes like eating a healthy diet and getting regular exercise.

Conclusion

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to treating thyroid disease, but there are many options available to patients. If you have been diagnosed with thyroid disease, it is important to work with a medical professional to create a treatment plan that is right for you. With the proper treatment, many people with thyroid disease are able to lead normal, healthy lives.

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