The thyroid is an important gland in the body. However, it can also be one of the more problematic organs. The symptoms present in thyroid disorders are also often misdiagnosed. Here are some of the the most common thyroid disorders.
The thyroid uses iodine to produce the necessary hormones for the body; however, if there is not enough it gradually enlarges until it becomes goiter. Originally, the thyroid swells to cope and get the needed iodine. Unfortunately, the continuous enlargement of it is caused by the body’s demand for the thyroid to keep producing necessary hormones. The most evident sign of goiter is the visible anterior neck mass which may result in the difficulty of breathing or even swallowing.
In the morphology of a goiter, there are three growth patterns for it. The first one is uninodular, which can be either inactive or a toxic nodule. The second one is multinodular, which can be likewise inactive or toxic. Thirdly, diffuse which shows that the whole thyroid gland is enlarged. It is also classified into three sizes being class 1, class 2 and class 3. In class 1 the anterior mass is not visible in normal posture but it can only be found through palpitation. Class 2, the mass is easily seen and is also palpitative. In class 3, the mass is very large.
According to statistics, 90 percent of goiter cases are caused by iodine deficiency. Although in some cases, goiter is caused by autoimmune problems, medications and substances like thyocyanate, lithium and anti-thyroid agents. Inflammations, cysts, benign neoplasms, malignant neoplasms, pituitary problems, thyroid hormone insensitivity are also other causes of goiter.
Hypothyroidism or Under Active Thyroid
This is a thyroid disorder caused by the underproduction of the thyroid hormones. It can be caused by congenital thyroid abnormalities, autoimmune disorders, iodine deficiency or the surgical removal of the thyroid to cure acute hyperthyroidism. Another reason for removing the thyroid surgically is to treat thyroid cancer. The most common cause is the Hashimoto’s thyroiditis where the immune system wrongly attacks the thyroid gland.
The symptoms of hypothyroidism are easy to spot. Some of these thyroid disorder symptoms are fatigue or lack of energy, abnormal weight gain, low cold tolerance, dry skin, baldness, heavy menstrual periods and bradycardia. Bradycardia is a medical term for heart slowness, where the body experiences a resting heart rate of 60 or below beats per minute. In order to treat this thyroid disorder, the patient undergoes a hormone replacement therapy where a hormone pill is taken on a daily basis. This is done to those patients who suffer from hypothyroidism due to Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. This is only done for a few months; however, for those who have hypothyroidism due to pituitary or hypothalamic condition, they will need to take in adjusted thyroid pills based on the necessary amount of serum TSH. Unfortunately, those who have a thyroid disorder based on the pituitary or hypothalamic condition, they will need to take these hormone thyroid pills for life.
Hyperthyroidism or Overactive Thyroid
Hyperthyroidism is a thyroid disorder that is caused by the over production of T3 and T4 hormones. It also most likely to be caused by the development of an autoimmune disease called Graves’s disease. It is a disease where the body’s immune system overstimulates the thyroid gland to secrete disproportionate amounts of thyroid hormones. Its symptoms include shaking, increased nervousness, irritability, palpitations, abnormal weight loss, fatigue, diarrhea, scanty menstrual periods, muscle weakness and abnormal heat sensitivity.
There are several ways to treat this type of thyroid disorder, one of which is through radioactive iodine. The thyroid gland is known to be the only organ in the body to have cells which absorb iodine. Since this is the case, the application of radioactive iodine destroys a part of the thyroid. Medication is also done to treat this thyroid disorder. Symptoms like palpitation and anxiety are treated with beta blockers. Anti-thyroid drugs are also used to reduce slow down the hormone production and bring it to normal levels. These drugs usually need to be taken in for 6 months to a year. Another treatment and usually the last resort for hyperthyroidism or thyroid cancer is the surgical removal of the gland.
Thyroid nodules are also known to be lumps that ascend from the thyroid gland. Although nodules are presented to be thyroid neoplasm or lumps that are benign and harmless, 4 percent of these are found to be cancerous. When diagnosed to have thyroid nodules, doctors usually recommend to perform fine needle aspiration biopsy. When the nodule does not present harm, it is still observed. Medication, in the form of thyroid hormones is provided to decrease the size of the lump. When it presents cancer plus it presents difficulty in swallowing or breathing, surgical removal is usually advised.