The thyroid gland is an endocrine gland located in the neck and its shape looks like a butterfly. It produces and secretes the thyroid hormones, which regulate many body functions such as calorie burn and heart rate. Therefore, any imbalance in the thyroid hormone levels, whether increased or decreased, will significantly affect your health and the activities you do, the effect depends on how much or how little hormones your thyroid produces.
Thyroid problems include
- Hypothyroidism, a disorder in which the thyroid gland produces insufficient thyroid hormones.
- Hyperthyroidism, when the thyroid gland secretes more hormones than the body needs.
- Thyroid nodules, when a growth of abnormal tissues in the thyroid gland.
- Thyroid cancer.
Women are more likely to have thyroid disease. The thyroid disease symptoms vary according to the problem, but usually, symptoms in women include:
- Menstrual problems lead to early menopause.
- Getting pregnant as it can make it difficult to get pregnant.
- Pregnancy-related health issues for both the mother and the baby.
Who is most vulnerable?
Screening for thyroid disease is not recommended for most women, but you’ll need to talk to your doctor about getting tested if you:
- Had a thyroid problem in the past.
- Had undergone surgery or radiotherapy that affects the thyroid gland.
- Have anemia or diabetes type 1.
Hypothyroidism occurs when the thyroid gland doesn’t produce enough thyroid hormones, which affects many body functions such as metabolism slow down.
Causes of hypothyroidism
- Hashimoto’s disease, where the immune system attacks the thyroid gland by mistake, resulting in its damage.
- Treatment of hyperthyroidism.
- Radiation therapy for some types of cancer.
- Removal of the thyroid gland.
Symptoms of hypothyroidism
- Feeling cold and sweating less than usual.
- Muscle weakness and joint or muscle pain.
- Weight gain despite not eating more food.
- Being sad or depressed.
- Being very tired.
- Paleness and dryness of the skin.
- Dryness and hair loss.
- Slow heart rate.
It is treated with medications that provide the body with the thyroid hormone it needs.
An overactive thyroid causes thyroid hormones to be secreted more than your body needs, which speeds up many body functions like metabolism and heart rate. Graves’ disease, which is an immune system disorder, is the most common cause of hyperthyroidism.
Symptoms of hyperthyroidism
- Weight loss even if you eat the same food or more!
- Rapid or irregular heartbeat.
- Stress or anxiety.
- Sleep disorders.
- Shivering or trembling hands.
- Increased sweating and feeling hot.
- Muscle weakness.
- Protruding eyeballs or red eyes.
The risk of osteoporosis also increases due to hyperthyroidism, which causes weak bones that break easily.
Choosing the appropriate treatment depends on various factors such as age, the cause of hyperthyroidism, personal preferences, and the severity of the symptoms. Treatment options include:
- Medicines that reduce the amount of thyroid hormone produced by the gland resulting in symptoms improving within several weeks or months in most cases, nevertheless, the doctor may ask you to continue this treatment for at least a year.
- Beta-blockers that relieve symptoms of hyperthyroidism, for example, can help slow the heart rate.
- Radioactive iodine, which causes the thyroid gland to shrink, but may cause permanent hypothyroidism.
- Surgery: in which a removal of all or part of the thyroid gland. It is an option for a few cases, such as pregnant women or patients who cannot undergo radioactive iodine treatment.