Thyroid problems are one of the most common medical conditions – they are commonly misdiagnosed since thyroid symptoms often appear gradually. It is best to understand this gland, its function, and how to detect possible thyroid problems which may occur.
The thyroid gland is one of the largest endocrine glands in the body. The thyroid’s main functions are:
1) it controls how quickly the body burns energy.
2) it also controls how sensitive the body should be to other hormones.
3) it makes protein as well. This butterfly shaped gland is found below the Adam’s apple.
The thyroid produces thyroid hormones such as thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3) both of which one of its essential components is iodine. These two regulate the rate of metabolism and affect the growth and rate of function of many other systems in the body. It also produces calcitonin, a 32-amino acid polypeptide hormone which decreases the calcium concentration in the blood.
Common Thyroid Problems
There are three most common thyroid problems. They are: Hypothyroidism (the underactive thyroid), Hyperthyroidism (the overactive thyroid), and thyroid nodules.
This is a thyroid problem caused by insufficient production of the thyroid hormone. The most common cause is called Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. This is a condition wherein the immune system attacks the thyroid gland by mistake. Infants with cretinism – a form of hypothyroidism – have severely stunted physical and mental growth due to untreated congenital deficiency of thyroid hormones.
Symptoms of Hyperthyroidism
Poor Muscle Tone
Bracardia (Low Heart Rate).
Thin Brittle hair and fingernails
Dry and itchy skin
Slowed hoarse voice
Abnormal mentrual cycles (women)
Low basal body temperature
Dry and puffy skin
Thinning of the eyebrows
Symptoms of Cretinism
Once diagnosed with these thyroid symptoms, a patient must go through thyroid treatment. Since the patient lacks the needed thyroid hormone, the patient is treated by taking thyroid tablets (synthetic or animal-based). Thyroid tablets are taken daily and a doctor monitors blood level to assure proper dosage of the tablet.
This thyroid problem is the opposite of Hypothyroidism. Overactive tissue within the thyroid gland results in overproduction of either T4 or T3 thyroid hormones, or both.
Symptoms of Hyperthyroidism
Palpitations or rapid heart beat
High nervousness, jitteriness, shaking, irritability
Menstrual periods are shorter or lighter
There are several methods of treatment available for those with hyperthyroidism. The most popular thyroid treatment for this condition is radioactive iodine. Radiation enters the thyroid and destroys part of it. Medications are also used as treatments. These drugs decrease the production of hormones of the thyroid restoring it to normal levels. Finally, surgical removal of part of the thyroid is occasionally used as treatment. Unfortunately, some of the treatments have their own side effects.
This kind of thyroid problem is usually harmless and common, but about 4% of nodules are cancerous, thus more tests need to be done. Symptoms of this particular thyroid problem are the development of mass, lumps, or nodules in the neck and the thyroid gland. Surgery is the common thyroid treatment for this kind of thyroid problem.
Knowing the thyroid, the kinds of thyroid problems, its symptoms, and the different kinds of treatments available is the best way for people to understand and prevent thyroid diseases from happening and live a blissful life. After all, prevention is the best medicine of all.