Thyroid Symptoms, Causes & Treatments
Hypothyroidism, Goiter, Thyroid test, TSH level, Thyroid diet and more
What would you like to know?
What are problems of the thyroid?
Thyroid gland is a soft, butterfly-shaped gland located in front of the neck, just below the Adam’s apple. Thyroid gland needs iodine to produce hormones, T4 and T3, which are essential to regulate metabolic processes in the whole body. The production of thyroid hormones (T4 and T3) is controlled (called feedback mechanism) by brain via pituitary gland, which releases thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH).
Disorders of the thyroid gland adversely affect the body’s structure or function. Thyroid problems are nearly 5-6 times more common in women.
What are the different kinds of thyroid problems?
The important disorders of the thyroid gland are discussed below:
1. Hypothyroidism symptoms and causes:
Hypothyroidism is the most common thyroid disorder where the thyroid gland produces inadequate quantity of thyroid hormones. Some common hypothyroidism symptoms in women and men are:
- Swelling in body due to fluid retention
- Intolerance to cold temperatures
- Dryness of skin
- Inability to concentrate
- Menstrual irregularities
- Muscle and joint pains
- Tiredness or fatigue
Common hypothyroidism causes are:
- Inflammation of the thyroid gland (e.g. in Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, postpartum thyroiditis and acute thyroiditis)
- Problems in the pituitary or hypothalamus glands
- Resistance to thyroid hormone
2. Hyperthyroidism symptoms and causes:
Hyperthyroidism is relatively less common than hypothyroidism, a condition with abnormally high production of thyroid hormone. Some common hyperthyroidism symptoms in women and men are:
- Anxiety and nervousness
- Excessive sweating
- Heat intolerance
- Inability to concentrate
- Loose motions or increased bowel activity
- Palpitations or increased heart rate
- Weight loss
Common hyperthyroidism causes are:
- Excessive iodine intake
- Graves’ disease
- Nodules of thyroid gland
- Toxic goiter with nodules
An enlargement of the thyroid gland irrespective of the underlying cause is called a goiter. Not a disease in itself, goiter is an indication of an underlying problem such as hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism, or an abnormality of the thyroid gland.
4. Thyroid nodules:
Nodules or abnormal lumps within the thyroid glands can be formed due to non-cancerous tumors or cysts, or sometimes due to cancers of the thyroid gland. These nodules vary from small to large and single to multiple. Extremely large nodules of the thyroid gland can even compress the adjacent structures like windpipe (trachea).
5. Thyroid cancer:
Thyroid cancers are more common among elderly women, than men. Thyroid cancers are generally treatable. Most of the patients survive if detected early.
How are thyroid disorders diagnosed?
Your doctor or an endocrinologist may suspect a thyroid disorder on the basis of:
- Signs and symptoms
- A medical history
- Physical examination
- Blood tests to detect the levels of T4, T3 and TSH and antibodies
Normal levels for thyroid test or TSH test:
Laboratories may use different methods for performing the thyroid function tests. Hence, there are no ideal values for these tests. The results of such tests should be ideally interpreted by a physician or endocrinologist. In general, the normal ranges of these tests are:
- Normal TSH levels in premature babies (28‑36 weeks)
- – 7‑26 mIU/L
- Normal TSH level in children
- – Birth to 4 days: 1‑38 mIU/L
- – 2‑20 weeks: 1.7‑1 mIU/L
- – 21 weeks to 20 years: 0.7‑63 mIU/L
- Normal TSH level in adults
- – 21‑54 years: 0.4‑2 mIU/L
- – 55‑87 years: 0.5‑9 mIU/L
- Normal TSH level during pregnancy
- – First trimester: 0.3‑5 mIU/L
- – Second trimester: 0.3‑6 mIU/L
- – Third trimester: 0.7‑2 mIU/L
If required, your doctor may suggest an ultrasound, thyroid scans and biopsy.
What is the recommended thyroid diet?
There are no specific, known foods or dietary supplements that can help treat thyroid disorders. Eating healthy is always important, even when one has no disease. The key to staying healthy is to eat the right variety of foods in the right proportions. Do not take any supplements, before consulting your doctor or endocrinologist.
Some food elements like calcium in milk, soya etc. may interfere with absorption of thyroid medications. Hence, there should be a gap of at least four hours between the medicines and such food items.
What is the treatment for thyroid problems?
In general, for thyroid disorders with hormone imbalance (hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism), medications are prescribed. However, surgery may be required for thyroid cancers and some thyroid nodules. Treatment will depend on the particular disease of the thyroid.
Medications for thyroid disorders
Medications for hypothyroidism :
Your doctor or endocrinologist will prescribe medications in the form of oral pills, to make up for the lesser T4 and T3 hormones being produced by your own thyroid gland.
Medications for hyperthyroidism :
Your doctor will prescribe medications which prevent the release of T4 and T3 hormones from the thyroid gland or decrease their production. When hyperthyroidism cannot be managed with medications, your endocrinologist may suggest radioactive ablation, where radioactive iodine is used to destroy the excessively working thyroid tissues.
Surgery for removal of thyroid gland or thyroidectomy:
- Complete or partial removal of the thyroid gland may be required in following cases:
- A large goiter or a nodule within the gland that may be functioning excessively
- When there are high chances of developing thyroid cancer
- Thyroid surgeries are best performed in an advanced technology hospitals by well-experienced surgeons. Once the thyroid gland is completely removed, lifelong medications of thyroid hormones are required.
To know more about thyroid disorders and their treatment, you can request for a call back and our thyroid specialists will call you and answer all your queries.
Our interesting blogs on thyroid disorders:
- MayoClinic. Hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid). Available at: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/hypothyroidism/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20350289. Accessed on 11th December 2017.
- American Thyroid Association. Thyroid Function Tests. Available at: https://www.thyroid.org/thyroid-function-tests/. Accessed on 11th December 2017.
- Thyroid Foundation of Canada. Thyroid Disease: Know the Facts. Available at: www.thyroid.ca/know_the_facts.php. Accessed on 11th December 2017.
- Thyroid levels and TSH levels: Available at : https://www.lalpathlabs.com/blog/what-you-should-know-about-thyroid-stimulating-hormones/