THYROID GLAND PROBLEMS


Various issues could be associated with the thyroid. Below is a list of a few most commonly diagnosed thyroid problems:

  1. Goiters - A thyroid goiter is a dramatic enlargement of the thyroid gland. Goiters are often removed because of cosmetic reasons or, more commonly, because they compress other vital structures of the neck including the trachea and the esophagus making breathing and swallowing difficult. Sometimes goiters will actually grow into the chest where they can cause trouble as well.

  2. Thyroid Cancer - Thyroid cancer is a fairly common malignancy, however, the vast majority have excellent long - term survival.

  3. Solitary Thyroid Nodules - There are several characteristics of solitary nodules of the thyroid, which make them suspicious for malignancy. Although as many as 50% of the population will have a nodule somewhere in their thyroid, the overwhelming majority of these are benign. Occasionally, thyroid nodules can take on characteristics of malignancy and require either a needle biopsy or surgical excision.

  4. Hyperthyroidism - Hyperthyroidism occurs when your thyroid gland, located at the front of your neck, produces too much thyroid hormone. Hyperthyroidism has three forms that share several symptoms. Hyperthyroidism usually happens between the ages of 20 and 40. It often starts after times of extreme stress or during pregnancy.


HYPERTHYROIDISM


SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS OF HYPERTHYROIDISM

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  • Fast heart rate and palpitations

  • High blood pressure

  • Swelling at the base of the neck

  • Moist skin and increased perspiration

  • Shakiness and tremor

  • Nervousness and confusion

  • Increased appetite accompanied by weight loss

  • Difficulty sleeping

  • Swollen, reddened, and bulging eyes

  • Constant stare (infrequent blinking, lid lag)

  • Sensitivity of eyes to light

  • Occasionally, raised, thickened skin over the shins, back of feet, back, hands, or even face

  • In crisis: fever, very rapid pulse, agitation, and possibly delirium

  • Changes in menstrual periods

  • “BUG EYES”

WHAT CAUSES HYPERTHYROIDISM?

Researchers suspect that Graves' disease (one form of hyperthyroidism) stems from an antibody that mistakenly stimulates the thyroid to produce too much hormone. Toxic nodular goiter is caused by a non-cancerous tumor in nodules that make up the thyroid gland. Secondary hyperthyroidism results when a gland called the pituitary overrides the thyroid's normal instructions, and orders it to make too much thyroid hormone. Hyperthyroidism means too much thyroid hormone.

Current methods used for treating a hyperthyroid patient are radioactive iodine, anti-thyroid drugs, or surgery. Each method has advantages and disadvantages and is selected for individual patients. Many times the situation will suggest that all three methods are appropriate, while other circumstances will dictate a single best therapeutic option. Surgery is the least common treatment selected for hyperthyroidism.


HYPOTHYROIDISM

Hypothyroidism is the clinical syndrome caused by too little thyroid hormone. There are several different types of hypothyroidism. The disease affects both sexes and all ages. However, middle-aged women are most vulnerable. If you have just developed the disease, you will most likely have muscle aches and often feel cold. Left untreated, hypothyroidism can cause serious health complications.


SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS OF HYPOTHYROIDISM

  • Slow pulse

  • Lethargy

  • Hoarse voice; slowed speech

  • Puffy face; drooping eyelids

  • Loss of eyebrows from the side

  • Intolerance to cold

  • Weight gain

  • Constipation

  • High cholesterol

  • Dry, scaly, thick, coarse hair

  • Raised, thickened skin over the shins

  • Carpal tunnel syndrome

  • Confusion; depression; dementia

  • Headaches

  • Moist skin

  • Menstrual cramps or other menstrual disorders

  • In children, growth retardation, delayed teething, and mental deficiency

WHAT CAUSES HYPOTHYROIDISM?

The various forms of hypothyroidism have different causes. In Hashimoto's thyroiditis, antibodies in the blood mistakenly attack the thyroid gland and start to destroy it. Post-therapeutic hypothyroidism occurs when treatment for hyperthyroidism leaves the thyroid unable to produce enough thyroid hormone. And hypothyroidism with goiter results when your diet lacks iodine.

Hypothyroidism is common in older persons and in women increasing cardiovascular disease and osteoporosis risk significantly. Its causes range from excess stress, mineral deficiencies, toxic exposure, prolonged illness, and autoimmune disorders. Several medications are known to affect the thyroid hormone production.


THYROIDITIS

Thyroiditis is an inflammation of the thyroid gland. There are several types of thyroiditis, but each of them generally produces three phases: overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism), under active thyroid (hypothyroidism), and return to normal. It usually takes one year to complete this cycle. Young to middle-aged women seem most at risk, although some forms of thyroiditis are seen in both men and women of all ages. With some forms, hypothyroidism may develop years later even if the thyroiditis has resolved.


SiGNS AND SYMPTOMS OF THYROIDITIS

Depending on the type of thyroiditis, the thyroid gland can have one of the following characteristics:

  • Firm and enlarged, but not tender

  • Enlarged and painful, with pain extending to the jaw or ears

  • Enlarged but not painful or enlarged on only one side, hard like a stone, and sticking to other neck structures

You may also have one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Cool, dry skin, slow pulse rate (less than 60 beats per minute), swelling around the eyes, hoarseness, or slow reflexes

  • No desire to eat, feeling tired and unenergetic, and a slight fever

  • A rapid heartbeat, slight nervousness, anxiety, weight loss of 5 to 10 pounds, and increased sweating

WHAT CAUSES THYROIDITIS?

Thyroiditis can be caused by immune disorders, viruses, and fever disorders. Sometimes thyroiditis develops if you have Graves' disease (a thyroid disorder). In some cases, there is no identifiable cause. Thyroiditis is an inflammatory process ongoing within the thyroid gland. Thyroiditis can present with a number of symptoms such as fever and pain, but it can also present as subtle findings of hypo or hyper-thyroidism. There are a number of causes, some more common than others. Hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid) and hypothyroidism (under-active thyroid) are the most common problems of the thyroid gland.

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