The thyroid gland undoubtedly stands to be one of the most important glands of the human endocrine system. The gland secretes hormones that regulates metabolism and other important functions of the body, which in turn initiates growth and development of the body. Here’s everything you should know about the thyroid gland.
The thyroid gland produces two important hormones, namely, the thyroxine (T4) and the triiodothyronine (T3). Of these two hormones the T3 hormone is considered to be more crucial in maintaining the metabolism and other bodily functions. When released in the systems a large part of the T4 hormone is converted in to T3 hormone, which is a normal function of the system. Read about why women more prone to hypothyroidism, especially in India.
Now even though it may look simple that the thyroid gland works by just producing thyroid hormones, there is a lot happening inside the body to make this process happen. The thyroid gland is regulated by the pituitary gland, another important gland located in the brain. The pituitary gland in turn is regulated by the hypothalamus which is the part of the human brain. The hypothalamus secretes a hormone called the thyrotropin releasing hormone (TRH), which in turn sends a signal to the pituitary gland to release thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH). The TSH again signals the thyroid to release the thyroid hormones.
If the above mentioned equilibrium is disturbed due to any reasons resulting in increased or decreased production of thyroid hormone, it causes various thyroid diseases. In addition, structural abnormalities in the gland also cause thyroid diseases. Here are 10 quick facts about thyroid disease you are not aware of!
Since the thyroid hormones play an important part in metabolism and growth it is necessary that an optimal amount of the hormones circulate within the human system for proper functioning and nourishment. But if there is a slight increase or decrease in the levels of the hormones in the system it could lead to a medical condition that might need attention.
Some of the causes that could lead to a low level of thyroid hormone in the system and give rise to hypothyroidism are:
Some of the common causes that leads to hyperthyroidism are:
- Hashimoto's disease: An auto immune disease that attacks the tissues of the thyroid gland.
- Thyroiditis: Inflammation of the thyroid gland that can result in less production of the hormone. Also read how to tackle hypothyroidism during pregnancy.
- Radioactive treatment for hyperthyroidism: If one is treated for hyperthyroidism with radioactive therapy, the treatment while correcting the condition can lead to an unpleasant outcome – underactive thyroid.
- Malfunctioning of the other important glands in the system:At times one might have a perfect healthy thyroid but can still suffer from the problem of hypothyroidism, if the glands that regulate the function of thyroid go haywire.
- Medications taken to treat hyperthyroidism: Sometimes medications that are prescribed to control hyperthyroidism can lead to hypothyroidism making the thyroid gland function sub-optimally.
- Iodine deficiency: A diet low in iodine has been seen to be a major cause of hypothyroidism in adults. It is noticed that areas that have low sources of iodine have more number of people suffering from this condition.
Read about thyroid problems during pregnancy: 5 facts you should know.
- Graves’s disease: This is the most common reason that causes hyperthyroidism in adults. Read more about 10 common causes of thyroid imbalance.
- Nodules in the gland: A single lump or multiple lumps growing on the thyroid can mimic its function and secrete more hormones than necessary.
- Excessive TSH secretion: Sometimes a medical condition like a tumor in the pituitary gland can initiate excess secretion of TSH that could lead to hyper secretion of the thyroid hormone leading to the condition.
- Medications taken to treat hypothyroidism: Excessive intake of medications that initiates thyroid to produce the hormones can lead to this condition.
- Thyroiditis: If the inflammation of the thyroid gland leads to abnormal amounts of hormones into the system, it can lead to hyperthyroidism.
Thyroid diseases can be broadly classified into three main categories namely -
This condition is denoted by a dip in the thyroid hormones in the blood. It happens if one has an underactive thyroid or the glands that control the thyroid malfunctions, though there are other causes also that can lead to this condition. It is usually noticed that hypothyroidism affects women more than men and gets worse as one ages.
In this condition there is an overdrive of the thyroid hormone in the blood due to an over active thyroid gland that secretes the hormones in abundance.
In this condition thyroid disease occurs due to the structural changes in the gland like an enlargement or nodules appearing on the gland. There can be benign cysts developed or cancerous ones in form of nodules. Enlargement of the thyroid gland is often termed as goiter. Goiter can at times be unnoticeable and at other times, it can lead to abnormal enlargement that might need surgical removal of the organ.
Here is detailed information on thyroid disease – types and its various causes.
Both hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism can have adverse affects on a person’s health. The symptoms and signs of the condition can vary from person to person depending on the severity of the condition.
Some of the common symptoms of hypothyroidism are:
Some of the common symptoms of hyperthyroidism are:
- Extreme fatigue
- Forgetfulness and confusion in thought process
- Feeling cold all the time
- Repeated bouts of constipation
- Dry skin
- Bloating or fluid retention in the body
- Stiffness in joints and muscles along with aches and pains
- Menorrhagia, excessive or prolonged menstrual bleeding
- Sweating profusely
- Intolerance to heat
- Increased bowel movements
- Slight tremor in the limbs
- Rapid heart rate
- Unexplained weight loss
- Excessive fatigue
- Concentration problem
- Irregular menstrual cycle
- It can lead to irregular heart rhythms and even heart failure in the elderly.
- Untreated hyperthyroidism may result in condition called thyroid storm, where a person can suffer from high blood pressure, fever leading to a heart failure.
- In Graves' disease, there may be eye changes and skin changes in addition to the other symptoms.
The diagnosis of the disease often happens in the following ways:
The first step of the diagnosis involves a blood test to check the levels of the TSH along with the levels of T3 and T4. Lower levels would indicate hypothyroidism and the higher values would be indicative of hyperthyroidism. If cancer is suspected, a thyroglobulin level check may be asked for. In rare circumstances, the blood calcitonin level may also be checked. Here is what you should expect during a thyroid function test.
This is usually done if the doctor suspects any structural changes in the gland. An ultrasound or thyroid scan can detect the presence of cysts, their nature and also the extent of thyroid enlargement that has taken place.
This is usually done if a cancer is suspected to study the tissues taken from the gland and if any cyst or tumour is noted in the thyroid gland.
Here's what you should know about thyroid profiling — 5 tests to check your thyroid function.
In case of hyperthyroidism oral medication is the first line of treatment to reduce the hyperactivity of the gland and control the levels of hormone in the body.
To treat hypothyroidism synthetic thyroid hormone is given daily to make up for the deficit in the system.
A very small amount of synthetic hormone may be given to treat goiter in order to shrink it to its previous size. Here's detailed information about medicines for Thyroid Disease – Types, Side-effects and Interactions.
A surgery might be suggested for a number of reasons - either to remove a diseased part of the gland, to remove nodules or cysts or to remove an enlarged gland completely to ensure proper treatment. In such a case a lifelong thyroid hormone replacement might be necessary. Read to know about can thyroid treatment prevent heart disease in diabetics?
A new kind of surgery that is slowly gaining ground when it comes to thyroid surgeries is robotic thyroid surgery. This kind of surgery is suggested to treat benign and cancerous nodules of the thyroid gland and is done through a cut in the armpit (axilla). This avoids a visible scar on the neck. Specially designed retractors allow the robotic arms to reach the neck region and remove the tissue. Read about natural remedies for hormonal problems in women.
This form of treatment is usually offered to treat hyperthyroidism if oral medication turns to be ineffective for the treatment. The iodine used in the therapy destroys the part of the gland that has gone on an overdrive to bring the levels of thyroid hormone to normalcy.
Here are a few yoga poses that can help keep thyroid problem under control.
Yoga Asanas For Hypothyroidism are -
Yoga Asanas For Hyperthyroidism include -