Thyroid Health Disorders
People often discover that they have a thyroid disorder after they begin experiencing a variety of symptoms. You may notice symptoms such difficulty swallowing, shortness of breath, irregular heartbeat, sudden weight loss, or feelings of anxiety. A common symptom of thyroid dysfunction is fatigue, although this symptom can also be caused by a number of additional factors.
Why do so many people with thyroid problems suffer from chronic exhaustion? There are many reasons for this. Your thyroid is the most important gland in your body for regulating metabolism. It also ensures proper temperature regulation within your body, helps produce energy, and assists other organs in functioning properly. If you experience a few of these signs, it is worth your health to schedule an appointment with a throat specialist who can perform a thorough exam.
The thyroid gland is a butterfly-shaped gland that is located in the anterior part of your neck. There are many types of thyroid disorders that can cause irregular thyroid hormone production and other related problems. Health problems occur when there is either too little or too much hormone production; when lumps or nodules form within the gland; when the gland enlarges, causing compression on structures around the gland; or when cancerous lumps or nodules develop within the gland.
Your thyroid is located above your breastbone near the base of your neck. If fluid-filled lumps or solid lumps form within the small thyroid gland, you may notice symptoms such difficulty swallowing, shortness of breath, irregular heartbeat, sudden weight loss, or feelings of anxiety. In many cases, however, people do not discover that they have thyroid nodules until their doctor discovers the problem during a routine exam.
Since the thyroid gland plays such an important role in maintaining proper function throughout your body, it is important to be aware of signs that may indicate problems related to this gland. The following 10 signs are the most common for indicating thyroid disorders. If you experience a few of these signs, it is worth your health to schedule an appointment with a throat specialist who can perform a thorough exam.
An underproduction of thyroid hormones is called hypothyroidism. Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is the most common form of hypothyroidism. This autoimmune disorder attacks the thyroid tissue causing decreased thyroid hormone production. Hypothyroidism also may develop after treatment for a hyperthyroid disorder – hypothyroidism may occur unless the correct thyroid hormone replacement therapy is taken.
When the thyroid grows too large a swelling called a goitre forms in front of the throat. The term goitre is used to indicate enlargement of the thyroid gland.A simple (euthyroid) goitre is usually the result of iodine deficiency (endemic goitre). Prevention of the development of a simple goitre may be achieved by maintaining a diet with adequate iodine. Once a significant goitre has developed surgery is often required to relieve pressure symptoms or for cosmetic reasons. Surgery for a goitre may be needed as part of treatment for an overactive or underactive thyroid disorder.
Graves’ Disease is an autoimmune disorder that leads to overactivity of the thyroid gland – which is called hyperthyroidism. Hyperthyroidism occurs when the thyroid makes too much thyroid hormone. Graves’ disease is the most common cause of hyperthyroidism and typically causes thyroid symptoms, eye symptoms and skin symptoms.
Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is the most common form of thyroiditis (inflammation of the thyroid gland) and also the most common thyroid disorder. It is an autoimmune disorder, which means it occurs when immune cells attack healthy tissue instead of protecting it. In the case of Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, immune cells mistakenly attack healthy thyroid tissue, causing inflammation of the thyroid.
Hyperthyroidism occurs when the thyroid produces too much thyroid hormone. The thyroid gland is located in the neck and produces several hormones, which control metabolism. Hyperthyroidism is a common disorder and the most common cause of hyperthyroidism is Graves’ disease. In older people, some or all of the typical symptoms of hyperthyroidism may be absent, and the patient may just lose weight or become depressed.
Hypothyroid conditions occur when the thyroid produces too little thyroid hormone. Without enough thyroid hormone, the body becomes tired and run down. Hypothyroidism causes every organ system to slow, including the rate at which the body burns energy. Although there are many different causes of hypothyroidism, the resulting effect on the body is the same.
Low thyroid symptoms in women vary depending on how severe the problem is. When the issue first develops, you may not notice any symptoms at all. Many women attribute symptoms such as fatigue to simply getting older. However, as the disorder progresses, more noticeable symptoms may arise and affect your daily life.
Multinodular goitres are a common cause of goitres. Individuals with this disorder have one or more nodules within the gland which cause thyroid enlargement. This is often detected as a nodular feeling gland on physical exam. Patients can present with a single large nodule with smaller nodules in the gland, or may show as multiple nodules when first detected.
Thyroid disorders in the newborn occur if the thyroid gland produces too little thyroid hormone (hypothyroidism) or too much thyroid hormone (hyperthyroidism). Most babies with thyroid disorders are detected through routine blood screening. The most common cause of hypothyroidism in the newborn is complete absence or underdevelopment of the thyroid gland. Less commonly, the thyroid gland is present but does not produce normal amounts of thyroid hormones.
Thyroid disease is up to eight times more common in women. A woman faces as high as a one in five chance of developing thyroid problems during her lifetime. During pregnancy around 5-10% of women will experience thyroid dysfunction. Thyroid disorders in women after child birth may lead to postpartum depression.
The eye changes (Graves’ orbitopathy) associated with Graves’ disease have significant consequences for the affected patient. The eye symptoms usually occur at the same time as the thyroid disease, however they may precede or follow the obvious symptoms of the thyroid abnormality. Most patients with thyroid abnormalities will never be affected by eye disease and some patients only mildly.
Most thyroid nodules are benign, but some may produce excess thyroid hormone and other thyroid lumps may be cancerous. The key issue for patients with thyroid lumps is whether surgery is required to remove the nodule for accurate diagnosis by pathology. Those people who have received radiation treatment to the head and neck regions for conditions such as acne, thymus enlargement, recurrent tonsillitis, chronic ear infections and birthmarks are at a greater risk for thyroid nodules and thyroid cancer
Around 5% of the population worldwide have a goitre or benign thyroid lump or enlargement – and up to 50% of the elderly population have a solitary thyroid nodule. Most thyroid nodules are benign, but some may produce excess thyroid hormone and other thyroid lumps may be cancerous. It is common for people to develop thyroid nodules and, in most cases, these nodules are not cancerous. As soon as you notice thyroid lumps in the neck area, it is important to have the nodules evaluated by a thyroid surgeon.
The commonest types of thyoiditis include Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, Subacute thyroiditis and post-partum thyroiditis. Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is the most common form of thyroiditis and is usually characterised by enlargement of the thyroid with or without pain. Subacute thyroiditis is caused by a viral infection of the thyroid and often appears after an upper respiratory tract infection. After pregnancy around 5-10% of all women develop thyroiditis.
If you have any questions about thyroid or parathyroid surgery, you should speak to your local doctor, who will arrange to contact your thyroid surgeon.