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What Should You Know About Common Thyroid Problems And Diseases?

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What Should You Know About Common Thyroid Problems And Diseases?

Diabetes and Endocrine Sciences | Posted on 03/20/2023 by Dr. Abhinav Kumar Gupta



Thyroid disease affects more than 200 million people across the world, and women are five times more likely to experience this condition than men according to a study. It is also discovered that around 60% of people aren’t mindful of the problem since the symptoms are often mild.

The thyroid is one of the most important body parts. This small gland in the neck secretes thyroid hormone as an endocrine system part. The thyroid hormone is responsible for controlling everything from digestion to mood to energy. When there is a malfunction in the thyroid gland, it affects every aspect of health.

Since thyroid problems in women are more common than in men, one in eight females is likely to develop this condition during her lifetime according to a study. If you have thyroid disease or experience the symptoms, ensure voicing your concerns to the doctor so that you are properly screened and get your condition under control.

There are various thyroid problems and it is important to be mindful of them and how they present themselves. In this write-up, you will find a detailed discussion on thyroid problems and their symptoms. However, kindly note that this is for informational purposes only and doesn’t construe with the doctor’s consultation.

What does the thyroid do?

Before we dig deep into the discussion of thyroid problems, let’s first discuss what it does. The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland positioned in the neck’s front. It secretes hormones playing a major role to regulate body temperature, metabolic rate, blood pressure, and the body’s reaction to other hormones. There are two hormones formed by the thyroid which are T3 or triiodothyronine and T4 or thyroxine. Calcitonin is a hormone produced by the thyroid assisting bone cells to process calcium and adding it to the bones.

What is a thyroid problem?

Thyroid disease is a medical condition keeping your thyroid from producing an adequate amount of hormones. Your thyroid typically produces hormones that ensure normal body functioning. If the thyroid produces excessive thyroid hormone, your body tends to use energy very fast. It is called hyperthyroidism. Using too much energy very fast causes fatigue and makes your heart beat really fast, causing you to lose weight. On the other hand, the thyroid can produce very less thyroid hormone which is known as hypothyroidism. As a result, you can feel tired often, gain weight, and might not be able to tolerate cold weather.

Types of thyroid problems

The six common thyroid problems are:

Hypothyroidism

Hypothyroidism is also known as an underactive thyroid. In this thyroid disease, your thyroid is unable to produce a sufficient amount of hormone, hence, all of your important body functions begin to slow down. The symptoms of this thyroid problem are fatigue, dry skin, heavy periods, weight gain, and reduced appetite. One of the most common causes of this thyroid problem is thyroiditis i.e. swelling in the thyroid gland.

Thyroiditis

Thyroiditis is a thyroid inflammation that causes pain in the thyroid. Thyroiditis essentially is the production of excessive or very less thyroid hormone. The symptoms of this thyroid disease are noticeable over time after the inflammation has impacted the thyroid for a while. The primary cause of this thyroid problem is an autoimmune disease. It causes the immune system to wrongly send antibodies to harm the thyroid gland. If someone has a viral or bacterial infection, the antibodies attack the thyroid gland. Some drugs, such as the heart drug amiodarone, also make thyroiditis worse.

Hyperthyroidism

If your thyroid is overactive and produces too many thyroid hormones, it means you have hyperthyroidism. The most noticeable symptoms of hypothyroidism are weight loss, loss of appetite, anxiety, increased heartbeat, and diarrhoea. The main cause of this thyroid disease is an autoimmune disease, known as Grave's disease (bulging eyes). Postpartum thyroiditis is also one of the primary causes of hyperthyroidism.

Thyroid nodules

A nodule is an unusual growth of cells that can be either solid or filled with fluid. Thyroid nodules are very common. Too many of those nodules are not harmful. There is only one way to identify the presence of nodules and that is when a lump is formed in your throat and it can be caught only during a regular health check-up. Sometimes these nodules also make the thyroid overactive, but in most cases, it is not associated with an underactive or overactive thyroid. But, some thyroid nodules are also known to cause cancer. If you notice any lump or swelling in your throat, then go to the doctor as soon as possible and get the check-up done immediately.

Goiter

Goiter is simply the name of an enlarged thyroid. Hyper and hypothyroidism cause swelling in the thyroid. Too many nodules forming lumps together become the cause of goiter. Hormonal fluctuations during pregnancy, thyroid cancer and thyroiditis can also cause goiter. If you are deficient in iodine, then also it can be another reason for goiter. The symptoms of goiter are swelling or tightness in the neck, coughing, difficulty breathing, and a hoarse voice. If you are not having trouble swallowing and breathing due to goiter, then it is not a cause of tension, but it is very important to know why goiter is formed and what can be the reason for it.

Thyroid cancer

Thyroid cancer is the most common among other thyroid problems. There are more chances of getting this cancer in those people who have gone through chest, neck, or head radiation before. It has been found in a study that the cases of thyroid cancer are increasing day by day. Till now, the reason for the increase in thyroid cancer has not been known. The good thing is that the treatment of thyroid cancer is available and the chances of survival are also high. The symptoms of thyroid cancer are not very noticeable and it only causes problems like goiter and nodules. Although, it does not affect the functions of the thyroid. As thyroid cancer progresses, you may notice symptoms such as sore throat, difficulty swallowing, or a hoarse voice.

Tips to prevent thyroid disorders

While it is difficult to prevent all thyroid disorders, you can include following some diet steps that will help keep your thyroid functioning. Here are the steps:

  • Make sure to limit ultra-processed foods
  • Get enough iron in your diet
  • Take selenium supplement
  • Get regular health check-ups done often
  • Exercise regularly
  • Quit smoking

Conclusion

Thyroid disease is a life-long medical condition that you will always have to manage. Regular medication is the first step in this. Your healthcare provider will monitor your treatment and make adjustments as needed over time. You can lead a normal life even with thyroid disease if the doctor's instructions are followed properly. It may take some time for you to discover the correct treatment option and manage your hormonal levels. But you don't need to fear, all you have to do is work with your doctor to find the best treatment for you. You can get in touch with one of the best multi specialty hospitals in Jaipur, known as Rukmani Birla Hospital. We have a team of highly skilled and talented endocrinologists who ensure diagnosing, managing and treating the thyroid gland successfully.

FAQs

Can a woman with thyroid problems get pregnant?

Yes, a woman with thyroid problems might face difficulty when trying to conceive. Even if the pregnancy is achieved, it will cause a lot of problems during pregnancy. However, once the thyroid problem is under control, one can have a healthy and successful pregnancy.

Can thyroid problems affect your breathing?

Yes, thyroid problems like hyper and hypothyroidism can affect respiratory functions. It weakens and decreases pulmonary functions.

Can thyroid problems cause kidney disease?

No, usually thyroid problems aren’t associated with kidney disease, however, it has been known to accelerate it. The primary link between thyroid disorder and kidney disease is uremia. Patients who have received treatment for thyroid disease don’t have a chance of developing renal dysfunction.