Thyroid Disease Overview – Causes, Symptoms, Treatment
Below every person’s Adam’s apple rests small glands known as thyroids that release triiodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine (T4) hormones that determine how much energy your body’s cells require. If your thyroid is in good health and functioning as it should, it has the ability to maintain the recommended amount of hormones that help your body’s metabolism to function properly and once the hormones are used up, it’s the thyroid that creates replacements. Pituitary gland controls and monitors the quantity of thyroid hormones. When the hormones are either too low or too high, pituitary gland adjusts thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) and sends it to your thyroid for further communication.
So what is thyroid disease?
If thyroid produces more hormones than it should, your body is forced to use energy faster than normal leading to hyperthyroidism and when the thyroid produces fewer hormones, your body will use energy slower leading to hypothyroidism. According to statistics, nearly 20 million Americans suffer from thyroid disease and it can affect anyone regardless of age or race so be on the lookout.
Causes of thyroid disease
Hypothyroidism can be caused by the following;
• Thyroid gland inflammation, famously known as thyroiditis
• Immune system illness, known as Hashimoto’s thyroiditis
• Postpartum thyroiditis
• Deficiency of iodine
• Malfunction of the thyroid gland
Causes of hyperthyroidism
• Enlarged thyroid gland
• Excessive iodine
• Overactivity of nodules within the thyroid
Symptoms of thyroid disease
Now that we already know what causes thyroid disease, we can now go ahead and learn about the symptoms of this disease. Just like the causes, we will examine the symptoms of both hypothyroidism as well as hyperthyroidism.
Symptoms of hypothyroidism
• Hoarse voice
• Muscle cramps
• Feeling weak
• Slower heart rate
• Weight gain
• Intolerance to cold
• Heavy and frequent menstrual periods
• Coarse and dry hair and skin
• Hair loss
Symptoms of hyperthyroidism
• Weight loss
• Heat sensitivity
• Sleep disturbances
• Eye irritation or vision problem
• Weakness of muscles
• Nervousness or irritability
• Infrequent or stopped menstrual periods
• Enlarged thyroid glands
• Raised body temperature
Treatment of thyroid disease
Hypothyroidism is usually treated by the use of thyroid hormone replacement therapy. This is where you take a synthetic hormone tablet known as levothyroxine by mouth to replace the thyroid hormone that’s missing in your body. Your doctor will monitor you closely with time and adjust your dosage accordingly. With this treatment, you will not experience any side effect but according to experts, taking too much thyroid hormone can lead to various symptoms such as sleeping problems, heart palpitations, and shakiness.
Even though the treatment of Hyperthyroidism is difficult, the good news is that it is treatable. The treatment can involve radioactive iodine treatment whose objective is to destroy part of your thyroid glands; anti-thyroid medication such as methimazole or propylthiouracil that can manage hyperthyroidism within six to 12 weeks; or through thyroidectomy, which requires your thyroid glands to be removed surgically.
At times, your physician can prescribe other medication as a way of controlling the hyperthyroidism symptoms such as anxiety, shakiness, nervousness, and increased heart rate. However, it’s worth knowing that these medications won’t cure thyroid disease.