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Thyroid Health: Answers to Your Commonly Asked Questions

The word thyroid was coined from the Greek term meaning shield. The thyroid gland is a part of your endocrine or hormone system and is also the largest gland in your body. It is located in the front portion of your neck, below your Adam’s apple.

An Overview of Thyroid Gland

It is a butterfly-shaped gland with its left and right lobes representing the two wings which enclose around the windpipe (trachea). Both these lobes are connected by a strip of thyroid tissue known as the isthmus.

The two important hormones produced by the thyroid and released into the bloodstream are triiodothyronine (T3), thyroxine(T4) that regulate your body’s energy, temperature, and other hormones and vitamins uses.

Thyroid hormones also play an important role in supporting the development of your body tissues and are uniquely specialized in terms of iodine absorption and application. The thyroid gland is controlled by both the pituitary gland and hypothalamus. In case of a shortage of thyroid hormones, pituitary gland triggers the releases of TSH or thyroid stimulating hormone.

Here you can get answers to your commonly asked questions about thyroid health.

Can Thyroid Problem Be Cured Permanently?

Thyroid diseases persist lifelong and cannot be cured permanently, but they are treatable. The most important feature of any thyroid disease is the availability of effective treatments that can reinstate thyroid function to normal, even in the presence of an untreated, underlying disorder. Once you have been diagnosed with thyroid disease, you require lifelong medical follow up to ascertain that your thyroid function stays in the best range.

What Are the Symptoms of Thyroid Problem?

Diseases of the thyroid gland can lead to either overproduction (hyperthyroidism), underproduction (hypothyroidism), thyroid nodules, thyroid goiter and thyroid cancer. Thyroid problems occur more frequently in women than in men.

Symptoms of hypothyroidism include:

  • Fatigue
  • Poor concentration
  • Dry skin
  • Constipation
  • Feeling cold
  • Fluid retention
  • Muscle and joint aches
  • Depression

Symptoms of hyperthyroidism include:

  • Tremor
  • Nervousness
  • Fast heart rate
  • Fatigue
  • Intolerance for heat
  • Increase in bowel movements
  • Increased sweating
  • Concentration problems
  • Unintentional weight loss

What are the Symptoms of Thyroid Problems in Females?

Women are more prone to get thyroid disease than men. One out of eight women will acquire thyroid troubles during her lifetime. In women, diseases of the thyroid can lead to menstrual problems, pregnancy-related problems, and problems in conceiving.

Hypothyroidism symptoms in women may include:

  • Fatigue
  • Weight gain
  • Cold intolerance
  • Dry or brittle hair
  • Pale, dry skin
  • Memory problems
  • Irritability and depression
  • Higher cholesterol levels
  • Slower heart rate
  • Constipation, or sluggish bowel
  • Joint or muscle pain
  • Hoarse voice
  • Unusually excessive menstrual bleeding

Hyperthyroid symptoms in women may include:

  • Weight loss
  • Frequent bowel movements
  • Tremors
  • Nervousness and irritability
  • Thyroid gland enlargement
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Fatigue

How Do You Get a Thyroid Problem?

Causes of hyperthyroidism

Every hyperthyroidism diseases stem from overproduction of thyroid hormones, but the situation can be induced due to various reasons:

  • Graves’ Disease- An auto-immune disorder that is commonly known to trigger thyroid gland’s overproduction.

  • Toxic Adenomas- The body’s chemical balance gets disturbed due to the growth of nodules in the thyroid gland that starts releasing thyroid hormones.

  • Subacute Thyroiditis- The thyroid gland begins to leak extra hormones when it gets inflamed, causing temporary hyperthyroidism. The situation may persist for some weeks or months.

  • Other Reasons- Due to break down of the pituitary gland or malignant growths in the thyroid gland, hyperthyroidism can rise up.

Causes of Hypothyroidism

Hypothyroidism stems from a less than normal production of thyroid hormones. Since a certain level of thyroid hormones is essential for our body’s energy systems, a dip in hormone production results in lower energy levels. Reasons for hypothyroidism include:

  • Hashimoto’s Disease- This is another autoimmune condition in which the thyroid tissue gets attacked by the body’s own immune system, causing a reduction in thyroid hormone.

  • Extraction of the Thyroid Gland- A surgically removed or chemically damaged thyroid at the time of hyperthyroidism treatment.

  • Exposure to Undue Quantities of Iodine- Certain types of medications or some dyes applied before X-rays may render you vulnerable to excessive iodine. This may make you readily susceptible to developing hypothyroidism, particularly if you have previously experienced thyroid problems.

  • Lithium- This component has also been associated with hypothyroidism.

Thyroid Treatment

  • Treatments for Hypothyroidism
    Hypothyroidism requires a lifelong thyroid hormone replacement plan. No surgical methods or established medications can encourage the thyroid’s hormone secretion once it slows down. Doctors normally prescribe complex forms of thyroid hormone, like levothyroxine. Side effects are rare, but some people may experience nervousness or chest pain while taking these drugs. Usually re-setting the doses of medication helps relieve any annoying side effects caused by the medication.

  • Treatments for Hyperthyroidism
    Thyroid hormone secretion can be inhibited or stopped completely by:
    1. Radio-iodine treatment (or radiotherapy)
    2. Anti-thyroid medication
    3. Surgery

    Sometimes more than a single treatment is required to restore natural hormone production. After the thyroid gets back to its normal function, the medication dosages may slowly be reduced.

  • Treatments for Thyroid Cancer
    Thyroid cancer is normally treated by surgically extracting either the malignant tissue or the complete thyroid gland through the process called thyroidectomy. If cancer has extended beyond the thyroid, all the affected tissue will also be extracted. Other types of therapy may also be applied, usually as a supportive option with surgery which may include radiotherapy or chemotherapy, based on the cancer variety and to what extent it has spread.

Newport Family Medicine, located in Newport Beach, CA, offers full-service family practice from pregnancy through childhood and adulthood to maturity. We provide comprehensive health care for people of all age groups.

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