Thyroid Disease: Types, Symptoms and Treatments

Thyroid disease can prove to be very uncomfortable and troublesome for the patient. Knowing about its types and symptoms can help you in getting treatment at an early stage.

The thyroid gland has a role to play in most of the metabolic processes taking part in the body thanks to its production of hormones. There are a number of types of thyroid diseases which include cancer that often results in death and enlargement of the thyroid known as goiter that is not life-threatening and does not even require treatment. Abnormal production of thyroid hormones is among the most common thyroid problems.

Even though thyroid issues can prove to be uncomfortable and hard to deal with, the majority of them can be controlled through treatment.

Common Thyroid Diseases: Symptoms and Treatments

Thyroid is an endocrine gland that is shaped as a butterfly and is located in the throat under the collarbone. The hormones produced by this gland control the chemical reactions taking place in the body like the metabolism changes. Below are the main thyroid problems that'll be explained in detail later in this article:

  • Goiter – Augmentation of the thyroid gland
  • Hyperthyroidism – Excess production of thyroid hormones by the thyroid gland.
  • Hypothyroidism – Insufficient production of thyroid hormones by the thyroid gland.
  • Thyroid cancer
  • Thyroid nodules – mass in the thyroid gland
  • Thyroiditis – inflammation of the thyroid

1.       Hyperthyroidism

Hyperthyroidism is a condition in which the thyroid becomes over active and starts producing more hormones than the body’s need. This condition affects women more than men and is found mostly in people over the age of 60 years and those that are suffering from other thyroid issues. Grave’s diseases, excess use of iodine and Thyroiditis are among some of the common causes of hyperthyroidism.

  • The symptoms of this thyroid disease include mood swings, muscle weakness, weight loss, sleeping issues, nervousness, heat intolerance, diarrhea, irregular heartbeat, hand tremors and goiter.
  • Blood tests and thyroid scans are the diagnostic measures used by doctors for diagnosing hyperthyroidism. Treatments for this condition are thyroid surgery, radioiodine therapy and medicines.

2.       Hypothyroidism

Hypothyroidism is a condition in which the thyroid does not produce enough hormones than the body’s requirements. Women are more affected by this thyroid problem than men and those who suffer from other thyroid issues have a high chance of developing it.

  • The main causes for hypothyroidism include Hashimoto’s disease which is an autoimmune disorder, radiation treatment of the thyroid gland, congenital hypothyroidism, the use of certain medications and surgical removal of the entire thyroid gland or some part of it.
  • The symptoms of hypothyroidism are not the same for every patient. You might experience cold intolerance, weight gain, slowing heart rate, constipation, dry skin, fatigue, puffiness on the face, thinning of hair, muscle and joint pain, depression, fertility problems and decreased sweating.
  • A physical examination and blood tests are the diagnostic tools mostly used by doctors for the diagnosis of this condition. Taking synthetic thyroid hormone on a daily basis is the treatment suggested for hypothyroidism.

3.       Thyroid Cancer

Thyroid cancer is a life-threatening thyroid disease. It has many types which are all very dangerous. People who are most at risk of developing thyroid cancer include women, people who fall in the 25 to 65 age group, Asians, those having a family history of thyroid issues, and those who have undergone radiation therapy for neck and head.

  • A lump in the neck is usually a sign of thyroid cancer so if you see it then you must consult a doctor immediately. The doctor is going to examine you physically and take the help of diagnostic tools like blood tests, biopsy and imaging tests to determine the cancer and its type.
  • The treatment plan for your thyroid cancer will depend on the type and stage of your cancer. Usually a signal treatment is not enough and patients are given a combination of several treatments. Surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, radioactive iodine, targeted therapy and hormone treatment are among some of the treatments suggested for thyroid cancer.  

4.       Goiter

Goiter is simply an enlargement of the thyroid gland. It causes abnormal production of Thyroxine and T-3 hormones in the body.

  • The major signs and symptoms of this thyroid condition are coughing, hoarseness, having difficulty in breathing and swallowing, tightness in throat and swelling of the base of the neck which becomes more prominent while putting on makeup or shaving.
  • The causes of goiter include iodine deficiency, Grave’s disease, Hashimoto’s disease, thyroid cancer, pregnancy and inflammation.  
  • Physical exam, hormone test which evaluates the TSH levels (Thyroid-stimulating hormone), antibody test, ultrasonography, thyroid scan and a biopsy are among the diagnostic measures that are used by doctors for diagnosing this thyroid condition.
  • Medications, surgery and radioactive iodine are among the treatments suggested for goiter.

5.       Thyroid Nodules

Thyroid nodules are solid or fluid-filled lumps that appear on the thyroid gland. Most of these nodules are not that serious and do not cause any symptoms. However, some of them can cause thyroid cancer.

  • The signs which are consistent with this thyroid condition are unexplained weight loss, heat intolerance, rapid heartbeat, tremors and nervousness.
  • Some of the causes of thyroid nodules include iodine deficiency, thyroid cyst, overgrowth of normal thyroid tissue and Thyroiditis.
  • Physical exam, thyroid test function, ultrasonography, FNA biopsy and thyroid scans are some of the diagnostic measure used for diagnosing thyroid nodules. Thyroid hormone suppression therapy, surgery and watchful waiting are some of the treatment options that are available for this thyroid condition.

6.       Thyroiditis

Thyroiditis is a condition which is characterized by inflammation of the thyroid gland. There are no obvious symptoms of this thyroid problem. All of its symptoms are consistent with many other thyroid issues.

  • Thyroiditis is usually caused because of an attack on the thyroid gland by the immune system which results in inflammation. This is why Thyroiditis is also considered to be an auto-immune disorder as well.
  • There are a number of types of treatment options available for the patients of Thyroiditis which depend on the type of Thyroiditis you have. These treatments include use of anti-inflammatory medication, thyroid hormone replacement and beta-blockers. 

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