Thyroid is a small, butterfly-shaped gland situated at the base of the front of your neck. Most of the important hormones are produced by this gland which has a major impact on our health. It importantly affects overall metabolism. Some important functions of our body such as temperature, heart rate and growth rate are also controlled by these hormones.
Any deficiency/imbalance in the production of these hormones affects the normal functioning of various organs in the body and results in hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism.
Sometimes there is swelling in the neck region due to enlargement of the thyroid gland and this condition is called GOITER. It may occur even due to deficiency of iodine.
Hypothyroidism occurs due to less production of thyroid hormone. Factors such as autoimmune disease, overcorrected hyperthyroidism, thyroid surgery, radiation therapy and certain medications may lead to hypothyroidism.
Symptoms may not be visible at the earlier stages but eventually may develop a number of health problems. Some visible signs include:- Fatigue, weight gain, dry skin, puffy face, increased sensitivity to cold, Hoarseness, muscle pain / weakness, depression, elevated blood cholesterol level, memory impairment, irregular menstrual periods, thinning of hair.
Doctors advise various blood tests to investigate the functioning of the thyroid gland. TSH (thyroid-stimulating hormone) levels should be checked along with T3 (Free Triiodothyronine) , T4 ( free thyroxine) to determine the functioning of the thyroid gland.
Some doctors suggest Anti TPO - Antibodies to thyroid peroxidise test which helps in diagnosing patients with autoimmune thyroiditis or Hashimoto’s thyroiditis.
The widely used course of treatment for hypothyroidism involves the use of the synthetic thyroid hormone Levothyroxine . The dosage is decided by the treating doctor and the medication helps in restoring adequate hormone levels. The tablet is advised to be taken in the morning on empty stomach. The other things to be followed are regular physical activity, exercise and a weight loss diet.
Treating doctor generally checks the levels of TSH after 4 to 6 weeks and regular follow up is advised to keep a check on the functioning of the thyroid gland.
The blood levels are generally checked six months later.
Hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid) occurs when the hormone thyroxine is produced in a larger quantity than required.
Graves’ disease is an autoimmune disorder and the most common cause of hyperthyroidism. It occurs more often in women than in men.
The common symptoms seen in these patients are nervousness, restlessness, weight loss, inability to concentrate, itching, difficulty in sleeping, brittle hair, irregular menstrual period and intolerance to heat.
In this condition the TSH levels are found to be on the lower side whereas the T3, T4 levels are on the higher side. Exactly is the reverse thing happening to incase of hypothyroidism.
Nuclear thyroid scan is suggested in case of hyperthyroidism. Sometimes thyroid sonography has to be done for further diagnosis.
For treating Hyperthyroidism, Carbimazole, Beta Blockers, Radioactive iodine are advised.
A Goiter is a swelling in the neck region resulting from an enlarged thyroid gland. Many times the thyroid levels are normal, in that case along with thyroid sonography, FNAC (FINE NEEDLE ASPIRATION CYTOLOGY) test is suggested. In this test a fine needle is inserted into the thyroid gland under microscopic evaluation.
Any imbalance in thyroid hormone levels is treated accordingly as per the doctor's advice.
In most cases it is difficult to prevent hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism but timely diagnosis, proper treatment and regular follow-up will definitely help in reducing the complications.
The correct dose of thyroid hormone tablets prescribed by the treating doctors should be followed to get the desired results.
Many of the patients have been receiving treatment for thyroid diseases here at Lifeblyss and they are being advised to do regular follow-ups and take medicines on time.
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