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Thyroidism: Types and symptoms

Thyroid: Types And Symptoms

Thyroid is a gland just located below the adam’s apple. It produces hormones, which are responsible for body’s metabolism and energy level. Thyroid disease occur when the gland do not produce proper amount of hormone needed by the body. It is one of the most common disorders but is often not diagnosed at the right time as the symptoms appear very gradually.

Types of Thyroidism

1. Hypothyroidism
This is due to an under active thyroid gland, which produces too little hormone. This is caused by a condition called Hashimoto’s thyroiditis where the immune system attacks the thyroid gland. As the hormone flow into the blood stream is below normal, the rate of body’s metabolism reduces and it uses up the energy very slowly.

Symptoms of hypothyroidism
Weight gain

b. Fatigue

c. Depression

d. Constipation

e. Irritability

f. Weakness

g. Dry skin

h. Dry and coarse hair

i. Hair loss

j. Muscular cramps

k. Pain in the body

l. Abnormal menstrual cycles in girls

m. Decreased libido.

Diagnosis of hypothyroidism
Hypothyroidism can be diagnosed by conducting blood test. People having Hashimoto’s thyroiditis have high level of thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) produced by the pituitary gland. Sometimes TSH level can be low when hypothyroidism is low due to defect in pituitary
gland. This can be distinguished by TRH test wherein an injection of TRH is given by the endocrinologist.

Treatment for hypothyroidism
Hypothyroidism is usually treated by taking pills containing thyroid hormone on a regular basis. Usually T4 form of thyroid hormone is given by doctors i.e. liothyronine sodium or cytomel tablets. T4 is a stable form and requires only one dose daily. Whereas T3 form i.e. levothyroxine sodium or levoxyl requires multiple dosing daily as they are short acting drugs.

2. Hyperthyroidism
Hyperthyroidism is a disorder where there is overproduction of thyroid hormone by thyroid gland. It is a condition manifested by too much effect of thyroid hormone on tissues. The most common cause of hyperthyroidism is Grave’s disease. Grave’s disease is an auto-immune condition wherein the person’s immune system over-stimulate the thyroid gland that result in more hormone production. This can enlarge the gland to form a goiter.

Symptoms of hyperthyroidism
Weight loss
b. Rapid heart beat
c. Sweating
d. Heat intolerance
e. Nervousness
f. Anxiety
g. Fatigue
Muscular weakness
i. Trembling of hand
j. Staring gaze
k. Warm moist skin
l. Hair loss

Diagnosis of hyperthyroidism
Hyperthyroidism is diagnosed by conducting blood test. TSH level will be lower than normal. T3 and T4 thyroid hormone level will increase. A thyroid scan by X-ray should be performed to determine the actual cause of hyperthyroidism.

Treatment for hyperthyroidism
There are many effective treatments available for the different types of hyperthyroidism.

a. Anti-thyroid drugs
Patients with sustained form of hyperthyroidism can use anti-thyroid drugs. Two drugs commonly recommended by doctor are methimazole and propylthiouracil. These drugs have side effects.

b. Radioactive Iodine Treatment
Radioactive iodine is the most recommended treatment for hyperthyroidism. These are introduced into the body and are absorbed by the thyroid cell. The subsequent cells die due to radioactivity. The rest of the body cells do not absorb iodine and hence are not exposed to radioactive element.

c. Surgical removal of the gland
Surgery is not frequently used like other treatments. But in certain cases of hyperthyroidism, all or some part of the gland is removed.

3. Thyroid Nodule
A thyroid nodule is a lump in the thyroid gland. It is an overgrowth of the gland tissue, swelling by inflammation or collection of fluid called cyst. There may be tenderness and pain in the front of the neck.

Diagnosis of thyroid nodule
A thyroid scan is done wherein a radioactive pill is swallowed by the patient. A special camera tells where the radioactive substance is taken up and the actual shape or size. A fine needle biopsy is also done to verify whether the nodule is cancerous or not.

Treatment for thyroid nodules
Thyroid nodules can be treated by surgery or by thyroid hormone suppression therapy that can shrink the nodule.

Frequently Asked Questions
1.What are the potential dangers of hypothyroidism?

If hypothyroidism is left undiagnosed and not treated than it can lead to life threatening depression, heart failure, or coma.

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