The thyroid gland has vital functions in the body. The gland can get enlarged because of various disorders and may need treatment.
The most common disorders occurs when there is an imbalance of thyroid hormones. Overproduction of thyroid hormones results in a condition known as hyperthyroidism. Insufficient production of the thyroid hormone is known as hypothyroidism.
Thyroid problems are manageable and can be controlled with the right medication and diet changes. The symptoms may be unpleasant temporarily for which you may have to continue the treatment lifetime long.
What are Thyroid Problems?
Thyroid problems can be further classified into different conditions. Hyperthyroidism can occur as grave’s disease, toxic adenomas, subacute thyroiditis, or pituitary gland malfunction. Whereas hypothyroidism can also occur because of various causes.
How is Thyroid Diagnosed?
Thyroid is diagnosed by examining an individual physically for symptoms and enlarged thyroid gland. Moreover, blood tests are used to give accurate results if the thyroid gland is working properly or not.
Thyroid stimulating hormone also known as TSH is the indicator of the normal thyroid hormone levels in the body. Other tests such as FT4 and FT3 are given to have more clear picture of what the condition is.
For hypothyroidism, the levels for TSH are high and FT4 are below the normal range. Other factors that can result in thyroid dysfunction are medications or illnesses that can interfere with the hormone production temporarily and altered blood test results.
For Hyperthyroidism, the levels of TSH are low and FT4 are higher than the normal range.
Causes of Thyroid Problems
Hyperthyroidism is caused when the glands produce hormones in excess which increases the thyroid stimulating hormone above the normal range. The causes and conditions are discussed below.
Too much production of the thyroid hormone results in the condition called as the Grave’s disease.
This condition occurs because of the imbalance of chemical balance in the body. As a results nodules may also develop in the gland causing problems.
The thyroid gland can also get inflamed and excrete excess thyroid hormones which can result in hyperthyroidism to last for a few weeks or months. The condition is usually temporary abd may go away with time.
Pituitary Gland Malfunction
The pituitary gland performs vital functions in the body and its mafunctioning can cause severe problems. Cancerous growths can occur in the thyroid gland as a result.
Symptoms of HyperThyroid
Hyperthyroidism is a condition that affects the body’s metabolism which produces more energy. The resulting symptoms may go unnoticed for a long time as they are so subtle. Common symptoms related ro hyperthyroidism are listed below.
- Weight loss
- Loose bowel movements
- Mood swings
- Enlarged thyroid gland
- Eye disease
Treatment of Hyperthyroid
Antithyroid drugs are used to treat an overactive thyroid gland so as to control the hormone levels. Surgery may be required in severe cases where younger people have an enlarged goiter. Radioactive iodine is another treatment that has no side effects. Beta blockers are also used depending on the condition and requited treatment as they ease symptoms.
Human body needs thyroid hormones for the production of energy and underproduction of the thyroid hormone can cause problems.
Low energy levels may a symptom of hypothyroidism as the levels of the thyroid hormone drop. There may be several causes of the thyroid gland not working properly but some of them are well known.
This is a condition in which the body attacks thyroid tissue and kills it. This stops the production of thyroid hormone and results in an autoimmune disorder which is the most common cause.
Thyroid Gland Removal
The removal of thyroid gland will also cause lack of thyroid production in the body. This can either happen if the gland is chemically destroyed or removes surgically.
Exposure to Iodide
Medicines that are prescribed for cold and sinus treatment may also pose the risk of hypothyroidism. Cough medicines also contain high amounts of iodine which may cause hypothyroidism.
Antithyroid Drugs for Overactive Thyroid
Too much dose for an overactive thyroid gland can result in hypothyroid as there will be lack of thyroid hormone production.
Some babies have this condition from birth as the thyroid gland does not develop to produce the hormones.
Symptoms of HypoThyroidism
The symptoms of hypothyroidism are not noticeable as soon as the condition occurs but low thyroid levels will begin to slow down mental and physical processes in the body.
Treatment for the condition will soon improve symptoms and overall health. Thyroid is often genetically inherited if it runs in your family.
The common symptoms for hypothyroidism are listed below.
- Dry skin
- Thinning of hair
- Muscle cramps or muscle weakness
- Carpal tunnel syndrome
- Fertility problems
- Heavy periods
- Weight gain
- Low libido
- Low mood
- Puffy face
- Memory loss
- Slow heart rate
- Increased cholesterol levels
- High blood pressure
- Slowed growth in children
How is HypoThyroid Treated?
Hypothyroid is underproduction of the thyroid hormone and so does the body need it from external source. Doctors prescribe levothyroxine to overcome the deficiency of thyroid hormone. The medicine is pure and does not cause any side effects if it is taken as per the dose prescribed.
Levothyroxine doses are adjusted by a doctor depending on the person’s weight and blood test result. Adjustments are made gradually so that the dose suits a person and does not cause heart problems.
It can take several months for the dose to adjust and improve symptoms. The blood test may be repeated every 6 to 8 weeks initially to have the right dose adjustment.
How to Take Levothyroxine for Hypothyroid?
The medicine should be taken first thing in the morning on an empty stomach. You should not eat or drink for at least half an hour before taking your dose of levothyroxine as it is known to interfere with its absorption.
Also, calcium, iron, cholesterol, and multivitamin tablets should be taken at least 4 hours apart so that thyroxine gets well absorbed in the body. Grapefruit, on the other hand is known to increase the absorption of thyroxine hormone.
It is easy to miss a dose for thyroid but the body does not really get affected if it only happens rarely as there are reserves for the hormone. Levothyroxine has to be taken for all your life as there is no permanent way of getting thyroid gland to function if it does not produce enough thyroid hormones.
Hypothyroidism in Pregnancy
It is recommended to have your thyroid tested as soon as you get pregnant as the dose might need adjustment. You should let your doctor know of your plans of pregnancy beforehand if you are under thyroid treatment.
Hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism both have an adverse effect on fertility for which you should consult your doctor and clarify the chances of conception and the required treatment.
What to do After Treatment?
Thyroid disorders are for life and one has to take medication to maintain healthy thyroid hormone levels. The thyroid blood tests are repeated over the period of 6 to 8 weeks initially to adjust the dose whereas you should have the test at least once a year after having your levels stable.
An endrocronologist is the specialist who looks after the thyroid disorders and will br able to access yoir condition from time to time. In pregnancy, it is very important yo have your levels checked regularly as the hormone levels fluctuate. Moreover, you should see a doctor if you have any sudden changes in symptoms to have yourself checked.