Key Causes for Thyroid Problems
Thyroid problems affect a large number of people with new cases being diagnosed every day. The thyroid gland produces important hormones that help to regulate the body’s metabolic processes. One of the ways to keep the thyroid healthy is by consuming enough iodine in our diet, which helps the thyroid in producing its hormones. Women are at a higher risk of developing thyroid problems than men. It is advised that they be on the lookout for the signs and symptoms of thyroid disorders in order to seek prompt diagnosis and treatment.
There are two primary conditions that occur when the thyroid fails to function correctly. The first is hypothyroidism which results when the thyroid is under-active and does not produce enough hormones. The second condition is hyperthyroidism, which results from an overactive thyroid that in effect produces more hormones that the body needs. Both of these conditions have underlying causes that have to be accurately diagnosed in order for patients to receive the appropriate treatment.
If you have symptoms or you suspect you may have thyroid gland problems its advisable to see endocrinologist
Causes of Hypothyroidism
The most common cause of hypothyroidism is Hashimoto’s disease. It is an autoimmune disorder in which the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks the thyroid gland. This continued attack causes inflammation on the thyroid and affects its ability to produce enough hormones as needed for the body’s metabolic processes. Hashimoto’s disease has various signs and symptoms that are associated with hypothyroidism. These include fatigue, weight gain, high cholesterol levels, intolerance to cold, slow heart rate, anemia, as well as joint and muscle pain and weakness. There is no cure for Hashimoto’s disease, but patients receive treatment to mitigate its effects.
The thyroid gland may in itself have problems that lead to hypothyroidism. If the thyroid is surgically removed such as in patients with thyroid cancer, it means that the body will lack the hormones that should be produced by the gland. Similarly, any form of radioactive treatment on the thyroid such as in the treatment of hyperthyroidism may erode thyroid tissue. As a result, the thyroid may end up being underactive, leading to hypothyroidism.
The functioning of the thyroid gland is regulated by the hypothalamus and the pituitary gland. If either of the two glands fails to function properly, it may affect the ability of the thyroid to produce enough of its hormones.
Iodine deficiency also causes hypothyroidism, and the intake of enough iodine in the diet is the one thing that individuals have direct control over, in preventing the condition.
Causes of Hyperthyroidism
Grave’s disease is the number one cause of hyperthyroidism. It is auto-immune in nature, which causes the thyroid gland to secrete more of its hormones than needed by the body. Some of the signs and symptoms of Grave’s disease include fatigue, protruding eyes, weight loss, excessive sweating, and irritability.
Another significant cause of hyperthyroidism is the development of nodules in the thyroid gland. The nodules can either be fluid-filled sacks or solid, and they end up producing thyroid hormones in excess of what the thyroid secretes.
Inflammation of the thyroid from a viral or bacterial infection can cause the leaking of hormones into the bloodstream. However, this is a temporary condition, and once the infection is treated, the thyroid can go back to functioning normally.
Hyperthyroidism can also occur as a complication of the treatment for hypothyroidism. In trying to stimulate the gland to produce more hormones, it may be over-activated resulting in hyperthyroidism.
A goiter is one of the widely known signs of thyroid problems. It is basically an enlarged thyroid gland and can be attributed to both hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism. In addition, a goiter can be just a result of the abnormal functioning of the thyroid due to iodine deficiency. Including enough iodine in the diet eventually leads to a reduction in the swelling.
Prevention and Treatment of Thyroid problems
Unfortunately, thyroid problems cannot be prevented except for a condition like goiter that has occurred due to iodine deficiency. Once diagnosed, all thyroid problems can be treated through various methods. Hypothyroidism is often treated using hormone therapy to supplement what the thyroid should be producing. Hyperthyroidism is also treated using medications, radioactive treatment or surgery depending on the severity of the condition.
It is important to follow through with the course of treatment provided to successfully manage and treat thyroid problems.