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Thyroid: What is it, Symptoms, Diagnosis and Treatment

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Thyroid: What is it, Symptoms, Diagnosis and Treatment

The thyroid gland, which plays an important role in the metabolism, growth and development of the human body, is a vital hormone gland. A constant amount of thyroid hormone is constantly present in the bloodstream and helps regulate many body functions. The body needs more energy in certain situations, such as growth, development or pregnancy. In such cases, the thyroid gland produces more hormones. The thyroid gland is located in the front of the neck, below the vocal cords, and is butterfly-shaped. The thyroid gland weighs an average of 20 to 60 grams and is surrounded by two fibrous capsules. The external capsule is connected to the laryngeal muscles and many important vessels and nerves. There is loose connective tissue between the inner and outer capsule. Therefore, the thyroid can move and change its position during swallowing. Thyroid tissue itself consists of numerous small individual lobes surrounded by thin layers of connective tissue. These lobules contain numerous small vesicles (sacs) called follicles that store thyroid hormones in the form of small droplets. The thyroid gland produces three hormones. These hormones are as follows: • Triiodothyronine, also known as T3, • T4, • Calcitonin. Calcitonin, produced by C cells in the body, is involved in calcium and bone metabolism. T3 and T4 hormones increase the body’s basal metabolic rate, making all cells in the body work harder.

What are Thyroid Diseases?

Too much or too little thyroid hormone produced by the thyroid gland in the body may cause thyroid disorders. Problems with thyroid disorders include a variety of disorders that can cause the thyroid gland to produce too little (hypothyroidism) or too much (hyperthyroidism) thyroid hormone. Thyroid disorders can affect heart rate, mood, energy level, metabolism, bone health, pregnancy, and many other functions. As a result of thyroid disorders, a small, harmless goiter (gland enlargement) that does not require treatment may occur, or advanced thyroid disorders may cause cancer, a life-threatening disease. Some of the diseases that may occur as a result of problems in the thyroid hormone mechanism are as follows:

  • Hyperthyroidism: Hyperthyroidism is when the thyroid gland is overactive and produces too much thyroid hormone. In case of hyperthyroidism, symptoms such as heart palpitations, feeling extremely anxious and nervous, sensitivity to heat, and difficulty gaining weight despite careful nutrition may occur.
  • Hypothyroidism: Hypothyroidism disease occurs when the thyroid gland is less active than necessary and does not produce enough thyroid hormone. In case of hypothyroidism, there may be symptoms such as fatigue, sensitivity to cold, constipation, dry skin, poor memory, concentration disorders and difficulty losing weight.
  • Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis: Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, an autoimmune disorder, occurs as a result of inflammation of the thyroid gland. Goiter (swelling in the neck due to an enlarged thyroid gland) may occur as a result of Hashimoto’s thyroiditis.
  • Thyroid Cancer: Thyroid cancer may occur as a result of uncontrolled division and proliferation of cells in the thyroid gland. Thyroid cancer may be more common in people who have received excessive radiation to the head, neck and chest area. However, thyroid cancer can also occur in people who do not have any known risk factors.
  • Thyroid Disorders in Women: Thyroid disorders in women can affect the hormone balance and cause problems in adolescence, menstruation, fertility, pregnancy and the postpartum period.
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What Causes Thyroid Diseases?

Problems in the thyroid hormone mechanism secreted from the thyroid gland may cause thyroid diseases. Factors that cause thyroid disease may vary depending on the type of thyroid disease.

Causes of Hyperthyroidism

Hyperthyroidism, a disease caused by excessive secretion of thyroid hormone, can occur as a result of many factors. Some of the factors that cause hyperthyroidism are as follows:

  • Graves’ Disease: As a result of Graves’ disease, which is an autoimmune disease, antibodies are produced by the immune system that cause the secretion of too much thyroid hormone. Hyperthyroidism may occur as a result of excessive secretion of thyroid hormone.
  • Nodules Formed on the Thyroid Gland: Extra thyroid tissue formed on the thyroid gland may cause an increase in the level of thyroid hormone released into the body. Excess thyroid hormone may cause hyperthyroidism.
  • Some Medications: Some medications, such as amiodarone used to treat irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia), can cause excess secretion of thyroid hormone. Hyperthyroidism may occur as a result of excessive secretion of thyroid hormone.

Causes of Hypothyroidism

Hypothyroidism occurs when the thyroid gland does not produce enough thyroid hormone. Hypothyroidism can result from damage caused by the immune system attacking the thyroid gland, thyroid cancer, or overactive thyroid hormone therapy. Some of the factors that cause hypothyroidism are as follows:

  • Immune System: As a result of the immune system attacking the thyroid gland, less thyroid hormone than necessary may be secreted into the body. Hashimoto’s disease is one of the autoimmune diseases that causes undersecretion of thyroid hormone.
  • Hyperthyroidism Treatment: Hyperthyroidism, which causes low secretion of thyroid hormone, may occur as a result of side effects or complications of surgery or radioactive iodine treatment used in the treatment of hyperthyroidism.
  • Iodine Deficiency: Iodine is a mineral that affects the thyroid hormone mechanism. Iodine mineral, which plays a role in the body’s energy metabolism, is one of the main building blocks of T3 and T4 hormones. Iodine, which cannot be produced by the body, must be taken into the body sufficiently through food. Iodine is absorbed into the bloodstream through the intestines. It is then transported to the thyroid gland, where it is used to participate in thyroid hormone production. Iodine deficiency in the body can cause hypothyroidism.
  • Pituitary Gland Disorders: The pituitary gland is a gland that controls the secretion of thyroid hormone into the body. Thyroid hormone binds to carrier proteins in the blood. In some cases, the body may need more thyroid hormone. When the body needs more hormones, T3 and T4 hormones can be released from proteins in the blood. In some cases, on the contrary, the body needs less thyroid hormone. The amount of thyroid the body needs can be determined by the pituitary gland. The pituitary gland helps the thyroid gland in determining the amount of thyroid hormone that should be added to the bloodstream. Problems in the pituitary gland may cause the secretion of less than necessary amounts of thyroid hormone, leading to hypothyroidism.
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Factors that cause thyroid disease also vary depending on whether the thyroid hormone is secreted more or less than necessary.

Symptoms of Thyroid Diseases

Symptoms that occur as a result of thyroid diseases vary depending on the type of thyroid disease. Some of the symptoms that occur as a result of excessive secretion of thyroid hormone are as follows:

  • Excessive tension and irritability,
  • Difficulty falling asleep,
  • Feeling of fatigue and weakness,
  • sensitivity to heat,
  • Feeling of palpitations in the heart,
  • Unintended weight loss.

Some of the symptoms that may occur as a result of undersecretion of thyroid hormone are as follows:

  • feeling of fatigue,
  • sensitivity to cold,
  • Weight gain despite a balanced diet,
  • Constipation,
  • Pain in the muscles,
  • Dryness of the skin,
  • Easy breakage of hair and nails,
  • Pain, numbness and tingling sensation in hands and fingers (carpal tunnel syndrome)

As mentioned above, symptoms vary depending on the mechanism of thyroid disease.

How Are Thyroid Disorders Treated?

In thyroid disorders caused by over or under production of thyroid hormones, different treatment methods are applied to bring thyroid hormone levels to the appropriate range. In case of hyperthyroidism, a treatment is needed to slow down the production of thyroid hormone, while hypothyroidism requires an increase in the amount of hormone production.

Some medications used in treatment can help adjust thyroid hormone levels. Other treatments such as dietary supplements, herbal medicines used with a doctor’s recommendation, and special exercises can also help the thyroid gland work better. Additionally, surgery may be required for treatment of advanced thyroid diseases.

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In order to treat diseases correctly, it is important that the treatment plan is made by a doctor. Treatment methods that are not under expert control may cause undesirable side effects. If you want to know more about thyroid disorders, you can consult a health institution.

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