Thyroid Disorders

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Thyroid Disorders

Understanding The Thyroid:

In the human body, the thyroid is a small gland that can be found below the Adam’s apple in your neck. This gland plays the important function of releasing the hormones that increase the amount of oxygen that your body needs and uses, and which also stimulate your cells to produce more protein. In this way, the thyroid is critical in controlling the metabolic rate of most of your body’s organs.

In normal circumstances, this gland is regulated by the thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH), which is created by the pituitary gland in the brand. Thus, when there is a high level of thyroid hormones in the body, the regulatory hormone will ‘switch off’ the production of TSH. Thyroid disorders occur when the thyroid gland either becomes underactive (hypothyroidism) or overactive (hyperthyroidism). Let’s look at both of these disorders in a little more detail:

Common Causes Of Thyroid Disorders:

In most cases, thyroid disorders occur due to inappropriate TSH levels, which may be caused by issues in the thyroid gland itself.

Hypothyroidism - In case of Hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid gland) the most common cause is Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, which is an autoimmune condition that results in the body making antibodies that destroy parts of the thyroid gland itself. In other cases, surgical removal or even certain medication can cause this disorder. Other causes of hypothyroidism include pituitary problems, hypothalamus problems, and iodine deficiency

Hyperthyroidism – One of the most common cause of this condition is Graves’ disease, which causes the immune system to produce an antibody that stimulates the thyroid gland in its entirety. This in turn leads to excessive activity, as well as higher levels of thyroid hormones. Another cause of this condition is known as Toxic Thyroid Adenoma. In this condition, the Adenomas, which are abnormal nodules of the tissue in the thyroid, begin to produce thyroid hormones constantly, even without need for the same.

Secondary hyperthyroidism, on the other hand, is seen when the pituitary gland in the body begins to create too much TSH. This leads to excessive stimulation of the thyroid gland. In other cases, a pituitary tumour can also cause the body’s TSH levels to rise. In very rare cases, the patient’s pituitary gland turns insensitive to thyroid hormones, thus becoming unresponsive to high levels.

Another cause of hyperthyroidism which is also seen is known as thyroiditis. Due to this condition, the thyroid gland becomes inflamed, and can lead to temporary hyperthyroidism, possibly followed by hypothyroidism.

Common Symptoms Of Thyroid Disorders:

Hypothyroidism is a condition that results in your body’s metabolism slowing down. As a result, some of the commonly seen symptoms include:

  • Coarse and dry hair
  • Confusion or forgetfulness (often mistaken for dementia in seniors)
  • constipation
  • depression
  • dry, scaly skin
  • fatigue or a feeling of sluggishness
  • hair loss
  • increased menstrual flow (women)
  • intolerance to cold temperatures
  • irritability
  • muscle cramps
  • slower heart rate
  • weakness
  • weight gain

Hyperthyroidism, on the other hand, results in your metabolism speeding up. As a result, some of the most common symptoms include:

  • Increased heart rate with abnormal rhythm or pounding (palpitations)
  • High blood pressure
  • Increased body temperature (feeling unusually warm)
  • Increased sweating
  • Clamminess
  • Feeling agitated or nervous
  • Tremors in the hands
  • Feeling of restlessness even though the person is tired or weak
  • Increased appetite accompanied by weight loss
  • Interrupted sleep
  • Frequent bowel movements, sometimes with diarrhea
  • Puffiness around the eyes, increased tears, sensitivity to light, or an intense stare
  • Bone loss (osteoporosis)
  • Sopped menstrual cycles         

Treatment Of Thyroid Disorders:

Both Hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism require completely different forms of treatment. Let’s look at the latter first:

Hypothyroidism: The most commonly used treatment for this condition is thyroid hormone replacement therapy. Through this treatment, the patient is made to ingest a synthetic thyroid hormone to replace the missing thyroid hormone. This form of treatment is usually life-long.

Hyperthyroidism: This medical condition can be treated in a number of ways, depending on the case history, and treatment procedures include iodine (including radioactive iodine), anti-thyroid medications or surgery.

Radioactive iodine: This treatment procedure is used to destroy certain parts of the thyroid gland. In most cases of this condition, one dose of radioactive iodine is enough to cure hyperthyroidism.

Larger doses of regular iodine: This is an alternative to the earlier treatment, where the treatment, instead of destroying parts of the thyroid gland, focuses on blocking the release of thyroid hormones.

Anti-thyroid medications: This treatment procedure can help to bring hyperthyroidism under control within 6 weeks to 3 months. These medications cause a decrease in the production of new thyroid hormones by the thyroid gland.

Surgical removal of the thyroid gland: This procedure, also known as thyroidectomy, can sometimes be necessary in extreme cases, especially those in which cancerous nodules are suspected. Removing the thyroid gland leads to hypothyroidism, though, which must then be treated with thyroid hormone therapy for the rest of a person's life.

Treatment for thyroid cancers: In cases where this condition turns cancerous, your doctors may have to employ a combination of thyroidectomy (surgical removal of the thyroid gland), radioactive iodine, radiation therapy (less common), anticancer medications, and hormone suppression.

The Apollo Clinic Experience:

Thyroid disorders have the potential to completely disrupt your life, and threaten it as well. At Apollo Clinic, our team of world-class endocrinologists are trained to ensure that you get the right diagnosis and the right treatment at the right time. From conducting physical exams and checking your clinical history thoroughly, our medical experts will also focus on measuring the levels of TSH and thyroid hormones in your body.

In addition, our state-of-the-art centre is equipped to conduct all required serology tests to measure the levels of antibodies that are normally associated with hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism. In cases where thyroid cancer, our centre and experts are trained to conduct a biopsy to sample the thyroid tissue and test for cancer. If you believe that you are facing the symptoms of either hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism, get in touch with one of our specialists immediately. 

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