Thyroid Gland Disorders

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Overview

The thyroid gland is a minor gland located in the neck. It produces important hormones that are necessary for the maintenance of the normal metabolism of the body. The two important thyroid hormones produced by the thyroid gland are T3, and T4. Disruptions in the levels of these hormones lead to the development of most of the thyroid gland disorders. Some of the important thyroid gland disorders are listed below:

  • Graves disease
  • Hashimoto’s thyroiditis
  • De Quervain’s thyroiditis
  • Multinodular goiter
  • Thyroid cancer

Causes

The causes depend on the disorder. Some of the causes are listed below:

  • Autoimmune destruction of the thyroid gland
  • Stimulation of TSH receptor by intrinsic antibodies
  • Decreased dietary iodine
  • Congenital absence of thyroid gland
  • Enlargement of the thyroid gland

Symptoms

The symptoms of thyroid disease are contingent on whether the disease produces the state of hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism in the patient. Hashimoto’s thyroiditis and De Quervain’s thyroiditis produce hypothyroidism, whereas multinodular goiter and Graves disease produce hyperthyroidism.

Symptoms of Hypothyroidism:

  • Slow heart rate
  • Decreased appetite
  • Weight gain
  • Cold intolerance
  • Constipation
  • Oligomenorrhea
  • Decreased sweating
  • Muscle aches

Symptoms of Hyperthyroidism:

  • Fast heart rate
  • Increased appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Diarrhea
  • Menorrhagia
  • Increased sweating
  • Arrhythmias
  • Tremors
  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Protruding eyes (in Graves disease)

Diagnosis

The diagnosis of thyroid gland disorders is made with the help of clinical signs and symptoms and physical examination of the thyroid gland. Confirmation can be done by the following tests:

  • Thyroid function tests (TSH, T3, T4)
  • Fine needle biopsy of the thyroid gland

Treatment

The treatment aims to correct the hyper or hypothyroidism.

Treatment of hyperthyroidism:

  • Surgical removal of the thyroid gland
  • Radioactive iodine ablation therapy

Treatment of hypothyroidism:

  • Thyroid hormone supplementation – Levothyroxine
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