Nowadays many people are suffering from thyroid disease. According to the report, the number of women suffering from thyroid disease is ten times greater than that of men.
So, in this post, we try to explain the topic of thyroid disease along with its symptoms, types, diagnosis, and treatment.
We hope, it is mighty beneficial to you. So keep reading.
What is Thyroid?
The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland that lies right in our neck. The main function of the thyroid is to generate hormones that’s why it is one of the endocrine glands or ductless glands.
Basically, there are two hormones that are generated by thyroid glands, one thyroxine (T4) and the other is triiodothyronine (T3).
So, the process of production of these hormones done by absorbing iodine. In addition, amino acid tyrosine combines with iodine to make the thyroid hormone.
What is Thyroid Disease?
When the proper functioning of thyroid abrupt then it causes thyroid disease. For instance, there are various reasons behind the cause of thyroid disease.
Moreover, the most common reasons for thyroid disease are iodine deficiency, autoimmune diseases (immune system attacks its own body), hyperthyroidism treatments, hypothyroidism treatments, radiation therapy, thyroid surgery, and certain medications.
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Types of Thyroid Diseases
There are generally five types of thyroid diseases which are listed below:
- Thyroid Cancer
- Thyroid Nodules Disease
In general, it is a condition of “overactive thyroid” where the thyroid gland starts producing too much thyroxine hormone. Due to this increased in metabolism, causing unintentional weight loss and a rapid or irregular heartbeat.
Sign and Symptoms of Hyperthyroidism
These are the following sign and symptoms of hyperthyroidism.
- Unexpected weight loss
- Rapid or irregular heartbeat
- Sweating and irritability
- Excessive hunger and fatigue
- Heat intolerance
- Hyperactivity or restlessness
- Abnormal protrusion of eyes or puffy eyes
- Irregular menstruation
- Nervousness, anxiety, discomfort and mood change
- Sleepless or insomnia
- Redness and dryness in eyes
- Hair loss
- Muscle weakness
- Mild Tremors
Causes of Hyperthyroidism
- Graves’ disease
- Toxic multinodular goiter
- Thyroid nodules that overexpress thyroid hormone
- Excessive iodine consumption
- Subacute thyroiditis: causes the gland to “leak” excess hormones
- Pituitary gland malfunctions or cancerous growths
Treatment for Hyperthyroidism
Chronic hyperthyroidism is treated by using the following methods:
1. Antithyroid Drugs: Some drugs include methimazole, carbimazole (neo-mercazole), and propylthiouracil (PTU). All these medicines eventually slow down the thyroid’s production of thyroxine hormone.
2. Radioactive Iodine Treatment (RAI): It is one of the effective treatments for this thyroid disease in which a single dose of radiated capsule or drink is used to enters the thyroid. These radiated drinks slow the productions of thyroid hormone which finally shrinks thyroid.
3. Thyroid surgery/ Thyroidectomy: For certain cases, surgery is done, particularly for people who are unable to tolerate anti-thyroid drugs and RAI is not a choice.
They are also called “underactive thyroid”. In this condition, the thyroid gland secretes less than the normal thyroid hormone, this means it is a case of thyroid hormone deficiency. These are generally seen in older ages.
Sign and Symptoms of Hypothyroidism
These are the following sign and symptoms of hypothyroidism.
A. Major Symptoms: In general, major symptoms of hypothyroidism include fatigue, cold sensitivity, lethargy, constipation, dry skin, and unexplained weight gain.
B. Mild Symptoms: These are the following mild symptoms of hypothyroidism.
- Muscle stiffness
- Sore throat
- Mental stress
- Delayed puberty or slow growth
- Brittle nails
- Enlarged thyroid
- High cholesterol and slow heart rate
- Irregular uterine bleeding,
- Sluggishness and depression
Causes of Hypothyroidism
1. Hashimoto’s thyroiditis: It is an autoimmune inflammation condition where the body attacks thyroid tissue. This eventually causes damage to thyroid cells and stops producing hormones.
2. Development of thyroid hormone resistance.
3. Other types of thyroiditis that cause hypothyroidism.
- Acute thyroiditis
- Postpartum thyroiditis
3. Removal of the thyroid gland: In the case where the thyroid gland is surgically removed or chemically destroyed because of some other disease.
4. Due to the exposure to excessive Iodide: Some medication for cold and sinus, or certain contrast dyes given before some X-rays can increase the level of iodine. In addition, if someone has had thyroid problems in the past, this type of medication can increase the risk of developing hypothyroidism
5. Lithium: Lithium-based drugs may eventually become the reason for hypothyroidism.
Treatment For Hypothyroidism
Hypothyroidism condition can be treated with thyroid hormone replacement drugs which are listed below:
1. Levothyroxine a synthetic form of the thyroid hormone thyroxine which is commonly used for the treatment.
2. Liothyronine is also a synthetic form of the T3 hormone. It has often given in combination with other drugs, especially levothyroxine.
3. Natural Desiccant Thyroid (NDT) or called “thyroid extract” used as hormone replacement therapy.
3. Thyroid Cancer
Thyroid cancer is the most dangerous form of endocrine tumors. On the basis of a particular type of cell, there are multiple types of thyroid cancer that eventually become cancerous within the thyroid.
Therefore, depending on the cell type, thyroid cancer can be classified into the following types:
1. Differential Thyroid Cancer: In general, it is a severe condition where papillary thyroid cancer and follicular thyroid cancer occurs together. In addition, this type of cancer involves the thyroid’s epithelial cells. And finally, it is one of the most common forms of thyroid cancer.
2. Anaplastic Thyroid Cancer: A rare type of cancer and also very hard to treat. From 100 thyroid cancer patients, only 2 people got anaplastic cancer. However, they occur in old ages (usually more than 60).
Sign and Symptoms of Thyroid Cancer
Some people have no symptoms while others have symptoms like:
- Rapid lump in the throat
- Neck swelling
- Vocal voice changes
- Difficulty swallowing food
- Trouble breathing
- A persistent cough without any infection or allergy
- Pain in the neck area
- Neck enlarged lymph nodes
Cause of Thyroid Cancer
The exact cause of thyroid cancer is not known. However, it may due to the combination of genetic and environmental factors.
But, one of the main causes is genetic changes in the thyroid. This finally may allow cells to grow rapidly and also increases the life of those infected cells that help them to survive more than the normal cells. These abnormal thyroid cells form a tumor and can also spread to other parts of the body.
Treatment of Thyroid Cancer
While talking about its treatments, it includes surgery, hormone therapy, radioactive iodine, radiation therapy, and in some cases chemotherapy.
1. Radiation Therapy or Radioactive Iodine (I-131 or RAI) —using x-rays and other high-energy rays to kill abnormal cells.
2. Surgery: Surgical removal of the infected part of the thyroid gland. These are the following common surgeries
- Thyroid Removal
- Endocrine Surgery
- Partial Thyroidectomy
- Lymph Node Dissection
- Neck Dissection
3. Antithyroid Drugs: Prevent for making or releasing thyroid hormone.
All knew that a goiter simply occurs due to the iodine deficiency or inflammation of the thyroid gland. A goiter disease is the abnormal enlargement of the thyroid gland below Adam’s apple.
In addition, a goiter may be correlated with hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism but they are painless. But a large goiter can cause other problems like difficulty in swelling, breathing, and coughing.
Sign and Symptoms of Goiter
A tiny goiter that causes no symptoms does not need treatment. But major symptoms that people may experience are:
- lump or swelling in the neck.
- Common Sign: coughing, fast heart rate, inability to tolerate heat, shortness of breath, throat tightness, an underactive thyroid, or weight gain.
Causes of Goiter
The main cause of goiter is iodine deficiency, however, other reasons are:
- Graves’ disease
- Hashimoto’s disease
- Multinodular goiter
- Solitary thyroid nodules
- Thyroiditis Inflammation
Treatment For Goiter
In general, the treatment of goiter depends on the severity of the case. Moreover, for certain cases, this includes treatment or surgery.
1. Supportive Care (observation)
2. Radioactive Iodine (RAI) Therapy
3. Antithyroid Agent and Hormones:
- The main antithyroid drugs are carbimazole, methimazole, and propylthiouracil/PTU.
- A less common antithyroid agent is potassium perchlorate.
4. Surgery: Thyroid removal or partial thyroidectomy.
5. Thyroid Nodules Disease
Conversely, thyroid nodules are lumps or abnormal masses that form within the thyroid. Likewise, they appear to be as solid fluid-filled lumps and may be single or multiple with varying sizes.
Sign and Symptoms of Thyroid Nodules
There is not a particular sign and symptoms just like goiter but people address problem likes:
- Swelling in windpipe or esophagus
- Shortness of breath
- Unexplained weight loss
- Increased sweating
- Tremors and nervousness
- Rapid or irregular heartbeat
Causes of Thyroid Nodules
These are the following common causes of thyroid nodules, listed below
- Overgrowth of normal thyroid tissue
- Thyroid cancer
- Iodine deficiency
- Thyroid cyst
- Chronic inflammation of the thyroid
- Multinodular goiter
Treatment of Thyroid Nodules
Albeit, it depends on the extent of severity. While, in many cases, thyroid nodules don’t need treatment. But, sometimes medication or surgery is needed, especially when nodules occur along with the larger or cancerous cells.
- Treating benign nodules
- Watchful waiting
- Thyroid hormone therapy
- Treating nodules (cause hyperthyroidism)
- Radioactive iodine
- Anti-thyroid medications
- Treating cancerous nodules
- Monitoring any changes and observation
- Alcohol ablation
Various Diagnosis for Thyroid Disease
Thyroid diseases can eventually be diagnosed by different types of examinations including physical exams, blood tests, ultrasound imaging, biopsy, and some other tests. Let’s take a look at the various test for thyroid disease in detail.
1. Physical Examination
Through physical examination, the practitioner performs the following practices
- Checking for enlargement, lumps, or irregular shape of the thyroid
- Using a stethoscope—detect an abnormal blood flow
- Checking heart rate, rhythm, and blood pressure
- Measure weight— weight gain or loss
- Measure body temperature
- Face examination— signs including loss of the eyebrows and puffiness in the eyes.
- Eye Examination— signs including bulging of eyes, a prominent stare, and dry eyes.
- Skin Examination— dry, rough and smooth skin
- Examine nails and hands— dry and brittle nails can be due to an underactive thyroid.
2. Using Blood Test
A practitioner diagnoses the thyroid disease through blood tests. The most common thyroid’s blood tests include the following:
- Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH) Test
- Total T4/Total Thyroxine
- Free T4/Free Thyroxine
- Total T3/Total Triiodothyronine
- Free T3/Free Triiodothyronine
- Reverse T3
- Thyroglobulin/Thyroid Binding Globulin/TBG
- Thyroid Peroxidase Antibodies (TPOAb)/Antithyroid Peroxidase Antibodies
- Thyroglobulin Antibodies/Antithyroglobulin Antibodies
- Thyroid Receptor Antibodies (TRAb)
- Thyroid-Stimulating Immunoglobulins (TSI)
Through blood tests, doctors can eventually diagnose the levels of thyroid hormones in the blood. In particular, these tests measure hormones from the thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH), a chemical released by the pituitary gland.
Moreover, the T4 test helps to diagnose the metabolism and growth. While there are two tests are performed under the T4 test. These are:
- Total T4: It measures the total amount of thyroxine in the blood, especially the amount of t4 attached to blood proteins that help to transport the hormone through the bloodstream.
- Free T4: Conversely, it measures only the thyroxine that’s not attached to proteins.
Normal levels of Thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) Test
The normal range for TSH is 0.4 milliunits per liter (mU/L) to 4.0 mU/L.
- A high TSH—along with lower T4/free T4, and lower T3/free T3 levels—is due to hypothyroidism.
- Low TSH—along with higher T4/free T4, and higher T3/free T3 levels—is due to hyperthyroidism.
In general, the thyroid’s ultrasound can evaluate nodules, lumps, and enlargement of your gland. Ultrasound can also tell whether your nodule is a fluid-filled cyst or massed solid tissue.
4. CT & MRI Scan
5. Radioactive Iodine Update
This test, also known as RAI-U. With the help of this test, you can tell whether you have Graves’ disease, 4-toxic multinodular goiters, or thyroiditis. But the major drawback of this therapy is that they are not performed during pregnancy.
6. Needle Biopsy
Needle biopsy, also known as fine-needle aspiration (FNA) biopsy can be used to identify irregular lumps and nodules in the thyroid.
In a needle biopsy, a thin needle is inserted directly into the nodule and certain cells are removed for further analysis. Even some practitioners also use ultrasound while performing a biopsy to ensure the needle is in the correct position.
Other Diagnostic Tests
Additionally, there are many tests and techniques that are also used by physicians to detect thyroid dysfunctions. These tests include:
- Iodine Patch Tests
- Saliva Testing
- Urinary Testing
- Basal Body Temperature Testing
Best Food for Thyroid Gland
These are the following food that helps you to fight the various disease of thyroid glands and also help in maintaining a healthy thyroid.
1. Roasted Seaweed: Seaweed such as kelp and wakame are good sources of natural iodine that fight from the iodine deficiency.
2. Salted Nuts: Dry fruits like macadamia nuts and hazelnuts provides selenium.
3. Fishes: It is a good source of Omega-3 fatty acids and also the selenium.
4. Yogurt: Yogurt doesn’t only a good source of low-fat but also provides essential iodine to the body.
5. Eggs: It contains a higher amount of both selenium and iodine.
The thyroid is a small, butterfly-shaped gland located in the neck—below and behind Adam’s apple. Although its principal role is to generate thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3) hormones by using iodine and tyrosine.
In general, the various types of thyroid disorders are hyperthyroidism, hypothyroidism, thyroid cancer, and thyroid nodules.
While the most common signs include fatigue, hair loss, weight gain or loss, excessive reflexes, high heart rate, diarrhea or loose stools, and many more. And for diagnoses, a doctor can physically examine the patient. Moreover, CT scan & MRI, biopsy, and radioactive iodine treatment (RAI) can be used to diagnose this thyroid disease.
At the end of the topic let’s find out some questions that users ask the most.
What are the hormones produced by the thyroid gland?
Ans. There are two hormones; one thyroxine (T4) and the other is triiodothyronine (T3).
What is the function of T3 and T4 hormones?
Ans. T3 and T4 control the body’s metabolism including growth and other body functions.
Which is more common, Hyperthyroidism, or hypothyroidism?
Ans. Hypothyroidism is slightly more common than hyperthyroidism.
Are thyroid disorders common?
Ans. Yes, thyroid disorders are common in society. It affects around 15-20 % of our population. Altogether, females tend to be more likely to have thyroid disorders.
Who is an Endocrine Surgeon?
Ans. An Endocrine Surgeon is a surgeon who specializes in the surgical treatment of thyroid and other endocrine glands.
When / How will the thyroid function blood test be given?
Ans. Before taking the blood for the thyroid function blood test, the patient should be an empty stomach, before taking the thyroxine tablet. Or given at any time during the day (regardless of whether the tablet is taken or not).
Is breastfeeding healthy for a mom with thyroid disease?
Ans: Yes, even though mom’s thyroid levels are not controlled by medication or are in the process of being controlled, breastfeeding for her baby is healthy for mom.