Thyroid disease- symptoms, causes, diagnosis and treatment
Thyroid disease, which is also known as Hypothyroidism, is a disease that affects the thyroid gland. The thyroid is an essential gland that releases hormones into the bloodstream. The thyroid gland assists in the metabolism, well-being, growth and development of the body. Thyroid disease is very common in India, especially in women.
Thyroid hormones influence the health of cells in the human body. Since the thyroid controls metabolism, its hormones can change the way your body uses calories and glucose, affecting your weight as a result. The thyroid hormones can also affect heart rate, body temperature, cholesterol levels, and intensity of breathing.
The thyroid gland is shaped like the letter h and is situated just below the voice box, at the base of the neck.
What is Hypothyroidism
Hypothyroidism is a condition in which the thyroid gland fails to produce enough crucial hormones that are needed for the proper functioning of the human body. Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is the biggest cause of hypothyroidism.
Women are more prone to hypothyroidism than men. The exact cause of this is not known, however, it might have something to do with pregnancy and menopause. Since, in both pregnancy and menopause, women go through rapid changes in hormones.
Hypothyroidism can cause weight gain, fatigue and inability to tolerate cold temperatures. If left untreated, Hypothyroidism can cause multiple issues such as obesity, heart problems, joint pain, mental health problems, difficulty getting pregnant etc.
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Symptoms of Hypothyroidism
- Low body temperature and inability to handle cold weather
- Weight gain
- Restlessness and anxiety
- Dry skin and dry hair
- Memory loss and poor attention span
- Constipation and other stomach issues
- Numbness and tingling sensation in the limbs
- Reduction in sex drive and libido
- A rapid rise in blood pressure levels
- Voice getting deeper and coarser
- Muscle soreness
What causes Hypothyroidism
- Inflammation of the thyroid gland
- Iodine deficiency in the body
- It may run in the family and hence, be hereditary
- Viral infection
- Autoimmune diseases that cause damage to the thyroid gland
- Medical treatments such as radiation therapy
- Pituitary gland disorder
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Diagnosing Thyroid disease
TSH test- It is a test which is widely used to diagnose hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism in people. TSH test refers to a thyroid-stimulating hormone test. It is a blood test that measures the number of thyroid hormones in the blood. Depending on the TSH level it is determined whether the thyroid gland is working properly or not.
TPO antibodies test- TPO or Thyroid peroxidase antibody test determines the number of antibodies against TPO in the bloodstream. Antibodies in the bloodstream help fight off foreign organisms such as viruses and bacteria. A TPO antibodies test determines if a person has thyroid disease or not.
Imaging- Imaging techniques such as ultrasound are sometimes used to determine hypothyroidism. A thyroid ultrasound is used to check for abnormalities in the thyroid gland and the change in the size of a nodule. Imaging is also used to determine the possibility of thyroid cancer.
Treatment of Thyroid disease
Thyroid disease cannot be cured completely. It is a chronic, lifelong condition. However, the symptoms and complications of thyroid disease can be managed and people who suffer from the disease can live a healthy life.
Hormone replacement medication- One of the most popular treatments for thyroid disease is the use of hormone replacement medications. Levothyroxine is a synthetic T4 hormone medicine that is used to treat hypothyroidism. The synthetic hormone copies the properties of natural hormones and functions just like them.
Animal extracts containing thyroid hormones- Though not as common as hormone replacement medication, animal extracts are also sometimes used as a substitute for thyroid hormones. These extracts are used in medicines and contain both T3 and T4 hormones.
Hypothyroidism can also be managed by following a proper diet. However, its effectiveness and legitimacy are yet to be researched properly.
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Hypothyroidism vs Hyperthyroidism
Even though they both sound similar, they are quite different from each other.
Hypothyroidism is a condition in which the thyroid gland produces insufficient amounts of hormones for the body. On the other hand, Hyperthyroidism is a condition in which the thyroid gland overproduces T3 and T4 hormones. Hyperthyroidism leads to an overflow of hormones in the bloodstream.
Hypothyroidism is more common than hyperthyroidism.
Both the conditions are diagnosed by similar methods such as TSH test, antibodies test and imaging. Both of them have overlapping symptoms but some symptoms are associated with only one of them such as energy levels, changes in weight, and metabolism.