A beginner’s guide to understanding Thyriod

Thyroid diseases are, arguably, one of the commonest endocrine disorders, that affects many worldwide. A recent study states that about 42 million people in India suffer from thyroid diseases- and majority of them are women. And that’s the count which excludes the part of the population who have a thyroid problem but are not yet diagnosed.

Detection and diagnosis of thyroid disorders is quite different from other regular diseases and a lot of people experience trouble interpreting their health with respect to the thyroid gland.
In this blog article, let’s explore the key information about various important aspects of thyroid disease.

Anatomy and functions

thyroid

Image Source:Alltohealth

The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland, lies below your Adam’s apple, along the front of the windpipe. The thyroid has two side lobes, connected by a bridge in the middle. When the thyroid is its normal size, you can’t feel it.

The thyroid secretes several hormones, collectively called thyroid hormones. It is produced when the thyroid gland takes iodine from your diet, combines the amino acid tyrosine and iodine to make the thyroid hormone.

The two key hormones produced by the thyroid are thyroxin( known as T4) and triiodothyronine (T3).
Everything in your body—including digestion, the growth of your hair and nails, your sex drive, and the function of your organs and glands relies on thyroid. The right levels of thyroid levels largely controls the metabolism, brain and heart.

The pituitary gland works with the thyroid gland and detects the levels of thyroid hormone circulating in your bloodstream and releases a hormone called Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH). When TSH is released, it stimulates the thyroid to produce more hormone and when the levels drop, it slows down production of thyroid hormone.

Thyroid Conditions

There are a number of specific diseases that can affect your thyroid gland. The Thyroid conditions are caused typically due to the underlying thyroid disease.

Thyroiditis

This is a category of thyroid disease that involves Inflammation of the thyroid, usually from a viral infection or autoimmune condition. Thyroiditis can be painful, or have no symptoms at all.
The treatment depends on the type of thyroiditis and varies greatly from monitoring and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications to antibiotics and thyroid hormone replacement medication and in some severe cases may necessitate the removal of a part or whole of the gland by a surgery.

Graves disease

This is an autoimmune disease where your immune system inappropriately produces antibodies, known as thyroid stimulating antibodies (TSI). These antibodies overstimulate your thyroid gland and cause it to overproduce thyroid hormone.The Graves’ disease is frequently accompanied by goiter and in some cases hyperthyroidism.

Goiter

It is a general term for thyroid swelling. Goiters can be harmless, or can represent iodine deficiency or a condition associated with thyroid inflammation called Hashimoto’s thyroiditis.

Hyperthyroidism

It is caused by excessive thyroid hormone production and is most often caused by Graves disease or an overactive thyroid nodule. The symptoms include anxiety, insomnia, panicky feeling, tremors, exaggerated reflexes, elevated heart rate, diarrhea or loose stools, feeling overheated and unexplained weight loss.

Hypothyroidism

It is caused by low production of thyroid hormone. The most common cause of hypothyroidism is the Thyroid damage caused by autoimmune diseases. The symptoms include fatigue, weight gain, inability to lose weight with diet and exercise, Constipation, Infertility, Feeling cold, Hair loss, Brain fog, Muscle and joint pains/aches

Thyroid cancer

Thyroid cancer is most often found in nodules (fluid-filled or solid lumps) in the thyroid gland. Depending on the cancer’s stage, it may spread to surrounding tissue. There are four types of thyroid cancer- Papillary, follicular or Hurthle cell, Medullary and Anaplastic thyroid cancer.

Signs and symptoms

The Symptoms appear in the neck and thyroid area. It includes:

• Discomfort in the neck
• Visible thyroid enlargement or lump
• Hoarseness
• Sore throat
• Difficulty swallowing

In some cases, thyroid diseases and conditions can have no symptoms at all, such as thyroid cancer or certain types of thyroiditis.

Causes and Risk Factors

The key risk factors for thyroid disease include:

• Iodine deficiency or excess
• Exposure to radioactivity
• Overconsumption goitrogenic foods
• Surgery or trauma to the neck area
• Pregnancy or recent childbirth
• Female gender
• Personal or family history of autoimmune disease
• Cigarette smoking

Treatments

The Treatment varies from person to person and may include monitoring, medication, surgery or radioactive iodine.

•Thyroid surgery (thyroidectomy):The surgeon removes all or part of the thyroid in an operation. It is performed for thyroid cancer, goiter, or hyperthyroidism.

•Antithyroid medications: Drugs can be used to slow down the overproduction of thyroid hormone in hyperthyroidism.

•Radioactive iodine: Iodine can be used with radioactivity in low doses to test the thyroid gland. Large doses can be used to destroy cancerous tissue.

•External radiation: A beam of radiation is directed at the thyroid, on multiple appointments. The high-energy rays help kill thyroid cancer cells.

Diagnosis

Diagnosis of a thyroid condition involves several key steps:

•A clinical examination.

•Blood testing: The blood tests include the thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) test, free thyroxine (Free T4) and free triiodothyronine (Free T3) antibodies testing to diagnose disorders of thyroid.

•Imaging tests: These tests include the radioactive iodine uptake (RAI-U), CT scans, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and ultrasound to evaluate to further evaluate the size, shape, and function of the thyroid gland.

•Fine needle aspiration biopsy: Fine needle aspiration (FNA) biopsy is done when to test for the possible thyroid cancer.

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