The thyroid gland plays a key role in the metabolic and other physiological functions of the body. Millions of people suffer from thyroid disorders without realizing it. Find out the symptoms of thyroid problem.
The thyroid gland is an important endocrine gland that secretes hormones that are vital to the physiological functions of our body. The thyroid hormone sets the pace at which the bodily functions take place. The thyroid gland is located in the middle of the lower neck - just above the collarbones and below the larynx. The thyroid gland is butterfly shaped and it derives its name from the Greek word, which means 'shield'. The functioning of the thyroid gland is largely dependent on iodine. Persons living in areas where the water is iodine deficient are advised to take iodine rich foods. Goitre is the condition where the thyroid gland becomes enlarged. Thyroid hormone levels are controlled by the thyroid-stimulating hormone produced by the pituitary gland.
Thyroid cancer is not always easily identifiable. The symptoms of thyroid cancer such as pain in the neck and throat or difficulty in swallowing and breathing are sometimes attributed to other infections and it might take some time to arrive at a diagnosis of thyroid cancer. Every year there are nearly 11,000 cases of thyroid cancer, predominantly among females. Typical thyroid disease affects women older than 30 years and it can be aggressively seen in older patients. The chances of recovery after treatment of thyroid cancer are more than 95% if diagnosed and treated in time. Thyroid cancer can appear as papillary or follicular cancer and is usually treated with removal of the thyroid lobe. Papillary thyroid cancer is more commonly noticed and patients experience better chances of recovery.
Other thyroid diseases that are noticed are Graves Disease, Hashimoto's Thyroiditis and Thyroid Nodules. Graves disease is caused due to over stimulated thyroid cells that produce excessive amounts of thyroid hormone. This is caused due to unique antibodies. The thyroid disease caused due to the accumulation of white blood cells and fluid within the thyroid gland is known as Hashimoto's Thyroiditis. In this thyroid disorder, the thyroid gland is eventually destroyed. When there is thyroid enlargement in just one part of the thyroid gland, many nodules are noticed in that area.
Millions of people suffer from thyroid problems, though they may not be even aware of it. Thyroid problems are noticed more commonly in women. Lack of iodine is not the only reason for thyroid disorders. Some thyroid disorders such as Graves Disease and Hashimoto's Thyroiditis are caused by antibodies. Symptoms of thyroid disorders are sometimes easily ignored or mistaken for signs of anxiety. As a result, many a thyroid problem remains undetected and undiagnosed for a long time. The most common thyroid problems occur due to hyperactive or under -active thyroid gland. When the thyroid gland is functioning normally, it is known as euthyroidism.
Overactive thyroid - Hyperthyroidism is a condition where the thyroid gland is in overdrive and secretes excessive amounts of thyroid hormones. This results in increased body metabolism. This is followed by weight loss and excessive warmth and sweating. Persons suffering from overactive thyroid experience trembling hands, irritability and rapid heartbeat or palpitations. Women with overactive thyroid or hyperthyroidism may experience shorter or lighter menstrual periods.
Underactive thyroid - Hypothyroidism symptoms include fatigue and lack of energy. Women suffering from underactive thyroid experience heavier menstrual periods. Sluggishness and forgetfulness are symptoms of underactive thyroid problem. Other symptoms of this thyroid disorder are dry skin and hair and constipation.
Thyroid symptoms can be noticed in women anytime from puberty to menopause and later. In fact, thyroid disorders can bring about abnormally late or early onset of puberty. Since an overactive or underactive thyroid gland can affect normal ovulation, women suffering from thyroid disease experience problems of temporary infertility. Symptoms of thyroid problem are noticed in about 5 - 8% of women after childbirth. Many a time, thyroid disorder can cause an early onset of menopause. Symptoms of overactive thyroid disorder are often confused with pre menopause symptoms. Symptoms of underactive thyroid include dry skin and brittle nails and muscle aches and cramps. Depression can also set in. Nearly 20% of chronic cases of depression have been associated with low production of thyroid hormone. Treating thyroid disorders requires just the right amount of medication. Too little thyroid hormone can bring about elevated blood pressure and cholesterol levels. On the other hand, excessive thyroid hormone can increase the risk of bone loss and osteoporosis.
When a thyroid problem is suspected, a thorough medical history and physical examination is conducted. An examination of your neck is done to feel the thyroid gland and any mass on it. Other thyroid tests that might be suggested by a physician are thyroid ultrasound, blood test for thyroid and thyroid scan. Thyroid scans are used to test the presence of nodules and also to measure the size of the gland. A thyroid ultrasound test is used to detect if the nodules are solid or fluid-filled cysts.
This thyroid test will help in accurately measuring the size of the nodules. It aids in fine needle aspiration biopsy. A fine needle aspiration is conducted on the thyroid gland to take samples of tissues to aid diagnosis of any thyroid disease. Sometimes a child is born sans a thyroid gland. In this case, it is necessary to identify and treat this defect so as to prevent any hampering in its growth and development.
There are two main thyroid hormones secreted by the thyroid gland - thyroxine and triiodotyronine. Thyroid hormones play a key role in certain physiological processes such as growth and metabolism as well as cellular differentiation. The thyroid gland produces a hormone known as calcitonin. The parathyroid glands secrete parathyroid hormone. These thyroid hormones control calcium and phosphorus homeostasis within the body and affect bone physiology.