Thyroid Diseases

What is thyroid and its function?

The endocrine gland, thyroid, is a small, butterfly-shaped gland located on the middle of the neck and on the lower part of the gristle, called the adam’s apple. It secretes thyroid hormones, which are vital for the body’s balanced functioning. The thyroid gland should be supplemented with adequate iodine intake for proper secretion of hormones. Various studies indicate that the occurrence rate of thyroid diseases ranges from 5 to 40 percent. Thyroid diseases include autoimmune disorders, infections, inflammation, benign/malignant bulks, etc. However, hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism are more common than other diseases.

What is hypothyroidism?

Hypothyroidism, a disease caused by low functioning of the thyroid gland, is estimated to affect 5 to 10 percent of the population. In patients with hypothyroidism, the level of thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) increases.

What is hyperthyroidism?

Hyperthyroidism is a disease caused by overactiveness of the thyroid gland for a number of reasons.  It is estimated that hyperthyroidism affects 1 to 2 percent of the population. In hyperthyroidism, while the level of the thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) is low, or even undetectable, free T4 levels are raised.

What are the types of hypothyroid and hyperthyroid?

Both hypothyroid and hyperthyroid are divided into two groups as the overt and the subclinical, which gives low or undetectable signs, according to the hormone (TSH, T4 and T3) levels in the blood.

What are the symptoms of hypothyroid? 

The symptoms, which appear due to the underperformance of the thyroid gland, are getting tired quickly, tenderness against cold, feeling cold, weight gain, constipation, changes in voice, edema of the eyelids, dry skin, paleness, low pulse rate, workforce loss, lack of concentration, and menstrual irregularities, etc.

What are the symptoms of hyperthyroid?

The symptoms, which develop due to the overactivity of the thyroid gland, are hand tremors, weight loss, diarrhea, heat intolerance, excessive sweating, hair loss, restlessness, fear, sleep disorder, swallowing difficulty, high pulse rate, palpitation, etc.

How to diagnose hypothyroid and hyperthyroid? Which tests are run?

After the physician hears your medical history and examines you, s/he might ask for blood tests and ultrasound to determine the level of thyroid hormones in the body, and further examinations such as thyroid scintigraphy and thyroid biopsy, if necessary.

What are the treatment methods for hypothyroid and hyperthyroid?

For both diseases, the treatment course depends on the underlying cause. Possible options are medication, radioactive iodine therapy, and surgical operation. Medication therapy aims at correcting the thyroid functions by replacing the deficient hormones or inhibiting the excess hormones. Regular patient follow-ups should be performed via blood tests and other methods. The length of treatment varies according to the underlying cause.

Is hypothyroid or hyperthyroid treatable with non-pharmacological therapy?

Again, depending on the underlying condition, some patients undergo surgery and radioactive iodine treatment.

What are the medications used for hypothyroid and hyperthyroid treatments?

In accordance with the malfunction of the thyroid gland and depending on the underlying cause, the physician prescribes thyroid hormone preparations, painkillers, anti-inflammatory medications, beta-blockers, or, in some cases, iodine preparations.
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