The thyroid is a tiny endocrine gland in the shape of a butterfly that is situated at the base of your neck, just below your Adam's apple.
This gland produces the thyroid hormones thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3), which are carried throughout your body by the blood.
The thyroid hormone affects many aspects of your body's metabolism, such as how quickly you burn calories and how quickly your heart beats.
Thyroid disease occurs when the thyroid functions abnormally. Either the produced hormone is less (hypothyroidism) or in excess (hyperthyroidism).
Although men, teenagers, children, and even infants can be afflicted, thyroid disorders tend to primarily affect women.
These thyroid disorders, which may be temporary or permanent, are harmful and require proper treatment. It is dangerous to manage your thyroid on your own and therefore, professional care is advised.
Your doctor will take into account your age, general health, and other medical conditions in addition to your specific thyroid condition when determining the best course of thyroid treatment for you.
Though it is difficult, your healthcare provider will try to balance your hormone levels with medications, surgery, and therapies such as dietary supplements, particular exercises, and lifestyle modifications.
The function of a Thyroid Hormone
Hormones are chemicals that communicate with your organs, muscles, and other tissues through your blood to coordinate various bodily functions.
Thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3) are combined to form thyroid hormone.
These hormones are responsible for various functions such as controlling your metabolism, internal temperature, weight, energy level maintenance, skin healing, hair growth, nail growth, etc.
When hormonal imbalance occurs, the functioning of these activities in the body gets disturbed.
Also, you may notice a swelling on your neck which can occasionally turn painful.
This is known as goitre. Furthermore, hormonal imbalances cause anxiety, nervousness, and depression.
What are the Symptoms of Thyroid Disease?
Thyroid is of two types - Hypothyroidism and Hyperthyroidism. Both the types of hormone disorders inhibit different thyroid symptoms.
Symptoms in Hypothyroidism
- Reduced libido
- Low energy despite getting enough sleep
- Gaining weight even when not overeating
- Dry skin, hair loss, and brittle nails
- Irregular menstrual cycles
- Increased sensitivity to cold
- Tingling or prickling sensation in your hands, arms, legs, or feet.
- Bloating and swelling
Symptoms in Hyperthyroidism
- Mood swings
- Trouble getting proper sleep
- Fatigue and weakness
- Increased heat sensitivity
- Swelling in your neck
- Rapid heartbeat
- Weight loss
How is Thyroid Disease Diagnosed?
By paying attention to your thyroid symptoms, checking your medical history, and performing a neck exam, your doctor will be able to determine how active your thyroid gland is.
However, your healthcare provider can precisely determine your thyroid secretory state by taking a small sample test of your blood.
The hormone levels present in this particular blood sample can be assessed in a lab setting. By measuring the TSH, it is possible to determine the amount of T4 and/or T3 being secreted, as well as how active the pituitary is.
Usually, a single blood test is sufficient to confirm the diagnosis, but occasionally, additional tests are needed, depending on your body.
How Can Thyroid Be Treated?
You should attempt to balance the hormone levels in order to treat thyroid problems.
Both types of the thyroid have different treatments. While hypothyroidism necessitates hormone replacement, hyperthyroidism requires treatment that will inhibit the production of thyroid hormone.
Who Can Help you Treat and Manage Thyroid Disease
Thyroid is a condition that is going to get worse by time and may even turn into fatal cancer if not treated properly.
However, medical experts can help with the treatment process in a better way and help you cope with the disease.
They will thoroughly examine you and offer the best recommendations for a lifestyle and medications based on your diagnosis.
T4 and T3 levels in the blood are low in hypothyroidism. Your metabolism slows down if your blood doesn't contain enough T4 and T3. Typically, treatment lasts a lifetime in the case of hypothyroidism.
Thyroid hormone replacement therapy is the typical course for hypothyroidism treatment.
The majority of hypothyroidism patients also take synthetic thyroid hormone supplements to make up for the hormone their bodies are unable to produce.
In most cases, thyroid replacement therapy doesn't have any side effects. But if you take too much thyroid hormone it can cause trembling, heart palpitations, and trouble sleeping.
To avoid complications, it is advised to not take any medication on your own.
Your healthcare provider will suggest the best according to the needs of your body.
Hyperthyroidism or overactive thyroid is usually treatable. Its treatment consists of medicine, radioactive iodine treatment, and surgery.
Anti-thyroid medications are frequently used for patients with chronic forms of hyperthyroidism, such as Graves' disease or nodular goitre.
Medication therapy aims to stop the thyroid from producing excessive hormones.
Although the side effects of the medications are rare, sometimes you may get rashes, itching, skin yellowing, a high fever, or a severe sore throat. In case you witness these side effects, contact your doctor quickly.
Additionally, if you stop taking anti-thyroid medications, you develop hyperthyroidism again.
This is a major reason people get inclined towards permanent treatment options like radioactive iodine treatment and surgery.
Radioactive Iodine Treatment:
It is the most frequently recommended long-term treatment for hyperthyroidism. Usually the course is of one to two months, but most patients can be cured with just one radioactive iodine dose.
It depends on you. However, there are side effects of this type of treatment.
Your thyroid gland can become underactive and hormone production reduces.
Surgery is another permanent treatment measure.
Though surgery is preferred rarely because of hospitalizations and risks of other side effects such as injury to neck structures close to the thyroid gland.
Though the possibility is quite low, it can still happen. Also, surgery often leads to an underactive thyroid gland and less hormone production.
If hyperthyroidism is not treated well, it can cause additional health issues such as:
- Thyroid storm
- Vision impairments like double or blurry vision.
- Constant irritation in the eyes
- Premature childbirth
What Lifestyle Changes Can Help in Treatment of Thyroid Disease?
The thyroid is a growing global concern. All thyroid disorders have environmental iodine deficiency as their primary cause worldwide.
Today, awareness is gradually increasing about thyroid disorders in India. Hence, the number of people getting diagnosed is also increasing day by day.
Women aged between 18-35 are more at risk of developing thyroid disorders as this time of their age is the most stressful.
Make sure your diet is healthy. Eat more nuts and antioxidants because thyroid is susceptible to oxidative stress.
Include green vegetables and fresh fruits in your diet. Don’t take any kind of processed food or packaged food. Avoid smoking/drinking, include exercise & meditation in your routine and focus on living a healthy lifestyle.
The prevalence of thyroid is to be taken seriously because it is a serious condition.
However, thyroid disorders don't mean the end of the world.
By controlling your diet and lifestyle, you can prevent the disease from developing into more serious stages. The effects of what we eat and how we live are far more profound than we can possibly imagine.
With proper treatment and good medical care, a lot of people have not only stopped thyroid disorders in their tracks, but some have even turned the disorders around and are now leading healthy lives.
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