From managing heart rate to menstrual cycles, mood, energy levels, and metabolism, the thyroid gland plays an important role in our overall health. As per the reports of the American Thyroid Association, more than 20 million Americans develop thyroid disorders, and 60% of those are unaware of their condition. If not treated, an underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism) can lead to complications, such as cardiac issues, goiter, myxedema coma, and pregnancy complications. This emphasizes the importance of regularly testing your thyroid gland to detect any signs of abnormality and begin treatment promptly.
The thyroid is located in the front of the neck; the thyroid gland is an integral part of the endocrine system, resembling a small butterfly. It produces thyroid hormones to regulate several bodily functions. These hormones also impact one's mental and physical performance. Abnormal thyroid hormone levels can lead to the development of thyroid disease.
Different Types of Thyroid Problems
Thyroid disorder is classified into two types depending on the quantity of hormones the gland makes, including:
- Hyperthyroidism: Your thyroid gland will secrete more thyroid hormones.
- Hypothyroidism: Your thyroid gland will make less thyroid hormone.
Signs and Symptoms of Thyroid Imbalances
Thyroid imbalances, whether it's an overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism) or an underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism), can present with specific signs and symptoms. Here are the critical indicators for both conditions:
Hyperthyroidism Signs and Symptoms:
- Weight Loss: Excessive thyroid hormones will increase your appetite and metabolism, causing unexplained weight loss that comes with unwanted changes.
- Palpitations and Increased Heart Rate: You will have an increased heart rate and experience vibrations that can lead to fatigue and dizziness.
- Increased Sweating: You may experience increased sweating even if you don't engage in any strenuous activities.
- Sensitive Skin and Skin Discoloration: You will have dry and itchy patches, reddish spots, swelling around your fingertips, lumps, and skin darkening.
- Nervousness: Hyperthyroidism keeps you overactive, leading to hyperactive thoughts and mood swings that cause anxiety.
Hypothyroidism Signs and Symptoms:
- Weight Gain: Hypothyroidism slows your metabolism, burning fewer calories and storing more fat.
- Heavy Periods: Less thyroid hormone production causes your menstrual cycles to be heavier yet slower, so you may have frequent periods.
- Slow Heart Rate and Muscle Weakness: Your muscles will lose their strength without enough thyroid hormones, and your heart uses these muscles to function. With weak muscles, your heart will work slowly, impacting your blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
- Constipation: As your metabolism becomes slower, your bowel movements will become irregular.
- Fatigue: With less thyroid hormone, you may find it difficult to recover from everyday stress, so you may feel more tired than usual.
What are the Causes of Thyroids?
- Excessive Iodine: Excess iodine in your body makes your thyroid gland overactive.
- Graves' Disease: Also known as diffuse toxic goiter (swollen thyroid gland) makes your thyroid gland is overactive, producing too much hormone.
- Nodules: Overactive nodules in the thyroid gland will cause hyperthyroidism.
- Thyroiditis: In this condition, the hormones released by your thyroid gland stagnate for weeks or months, causing less to no pain.
- A Non-Functioning Thyroid Gland: A congenital condition affects 1 in 4,000 neonates. If not treated on time, it will cause mental and physical decline in affected children.
- Postpartum Thyroiditis: This acute condition affects 5% to 9% of women after delivery.
- Hashimoto's Thyroiditis is an autoimmune yet inherited condition in which your body cells attack and damage your thyroid gland.
- Thyroiditis: causes your thyroid gland to swell, reducing hormone production.
- Iodine Deficiency: Your thyroid gland uses iodine to produce hormones. So, having less iodine content can impact your hormone production.
Risk Factors of Thyroid
- Age (risk for hypothyroidism increases with age)
- Family history
- Gender (thyroid problems affect women more than men)
- Pregnancy and childbirth
- Medications containing amiodarone, lithium, and interferon
- Exposure to high-level radiation
- Previous thyroid problems
- Autoimmune disorders
See Also: Stage 1 Thyroid Cancer: Symptoms, Diagnosis, and Treatment
How Are Thyroid Problems Treated?
The proper treatment for thyroid issues depends on how you feel and your kind of thyroid problem. For low thyroid levels (hypothyroidism), the primary treatment is taking thyroid replacement medication that boosts your thyroid hormones. This helps your body work better and keeps everything in balance.
Treatment options for hyperthyroidism include:
- Radioactive Iodine: It damages your thyroid gland cells, reducing hormone production.
- Antithyroid Drugs: You are given medications, such as methimazole and propylthiouracil, to prevent too much thyroid hormone secretion.
- Beta Blockers: They can help manage your symptoms.
- Surgery: Your healthcare provider will surgically remove your thyroid gland (thyroidectomy) to prevent hormone production. Nevertheless, you must take oral thyroid replacement hormones for the rest of your life.
See Also: A Comprehensive Guide to Parathyroid Disease
As the thyroid gland influences several bodily functions, avoiding or delaying treatment can significantly impact your overall health and wellness. So, upon experiencing thyroid symptoms, visit your doctor for a proper diagnosis and treatment. Adhering to treatment regimens, making simple lifestyle adjustments, and attending regular follow-ups are ways to manage your thyroid problems effectively, thus regaining control over your health and returning to normalcy.
Get High-Quality Thyroid Treatment at Far North Surgery in Anchorage, AK
At Far North Surgery, we offer exceptional thyroid treatment options with unparalleled medical care and assistance. Led by an expert, Dr. Madhu Prasad, we are renowned for our excellence in treating thyroid-related ailments. His extensive knowledge and understanding of thyroid conditions ensure accurate diagnosis and treatment.
We follow a comprehensive approach to every step of your care, ensuring your unique needs are met with the utmost compassion and expertise. He has won numerous accolades and awards throughout his career, including one for offering exceptional care and achieving optimal patient outcomes.
Schedule a consultation today to get started on your thyroid treatment. Don't let your thyroid symptoms impact your quality of life; contact Far North Surgery to eliminate those bothersome consequences and live a healthy life.