Health One Family Medicine

Common Thyroid Diseases: Causes, Symptoms and Treatments

Thyroid, a small, butterfly-shaped gland in our bodies, is responsible for producing hormones that influence most of the metabolic processes in our bodies. It is located at the base of our necks, below the larynx. It is wrapped around our trachea (windpipe). The thyroid is part of the endocrine system (the network of glands) and responsible for many bodily functions.

When our thyroid gland produces more or fewer hormones than it needs to, it leads to thyroid disease. There are several common thyroid diseases that we will discuss in this blog. The purpose of this blog is to spread awareness about thyroid problems in children, men and women to help diagnose and manage thyroid carefully.

What Exactly Does the Thyroid Do?

The thyroid gland produces hormones that affect the body’s metabolic functions as well as the functions of the heart, muscles and the digestive system. The hormones also control brain development and bone maintenance.

The gland is responsible for controlling the rate of many activities that your body performs. For example, how fast your heart beats or how fast you burn calories are both metabolic functions that can be affected by the under or overproduction of hormones by the thyroid gland.

For the correct functioning of the thyroid gland, you must ensure that your body is getting a significant amount of iodine. Cells that produce thyroid hormones absorb iodine from the blood and pass it on to the thyroid hormones.

4 Common Thyroid Diseases

1. Hyperthyroidism

In hyperthyroidism, the thyroid gland is overactive and produces too many hormones. While the condition is less common in men, it mostly affects women. It is one of the most prevalent thyroid problems in children.

Sometimes, this excessive production of hormones is caused by consuming too much iodine (found in cough syrups and many medications). If your thyroid develops nodules, it can also cause the gland to overproduce hormones.

Excessive hormone production causes:

  • Restlessness
  • Irritability
  • Increased perspiration
  • Anxiety
  • Sleep problems
  • Weight loss
  • Muscle weakness
  • Thin skin
  • Brittle hair and nails

2. Hypothyroidism

Hypothyroidism is the opposite of hyperthyroidism. In this condition, the thyroid gland produces less hormones than it needs to. While most cases of hypothyroidism are not very serious, the condition affects around 4.6% of people who are 12 years or older in the United States.

Hypothyroidism is mostly caused by surgery to remove the thyroid gland, damage from radiation treatment or lack of iodine in the diet.

The underproduction of hormones can cause:

  • Fatigue
  • Weight gain
  • Depression
  • Constipation
  • Memory issues
  • Weakness
  • Dry skin
  • Increased sensitivity to low temperatures

3. Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis

Another common thyroid disease is Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis. As the most widespread thyroid disease, it affects about 14 million Americans each year. It is most common in middle-aged women, though it can occur at any age. It occurs when our immune system wrongfully attacks the thyroid gland and slowly destroys it and its ability to produce hormones.

Symptoms of Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis include:

  • Pale face
  • Depression
  • Fatigue
  • Irregular menstruation
  • Mild weight gain
  • Enlarged thyroid gland
  • Thinning of hair

4. Thyroid Cancer

Thyroid cancer is the most common type of endocrine cancer in children. However, it is one of the rarest thyroid problems in children. Only 1 out of 1 million children under the age of 10 are diagnosed with thyroid cancer. The rate is higher in teenagers aged between 15 and 19 years.

Thyroid cancer symptoms include:

  • Hoarse voice
  • Lump in the neck
  • Swollen glands
  • Problems in breathing and swallowing
  • Feeling of tightness

Treatments for Thyroid Diseases

  • Thyroid Hormone Treatment: To replace the function of the thyroid gland when it is no longer performing or to suppress the growth of further hormones.
  • Thyroidectomy: A surgical procedure to remove all or a part of the thyroid gland.
  • Complementary and Alternative Medicine in Thyroid Disease (CAM): Biologically-based and mini body practices in addition to thyroid treatment, such as the use of dietary supplements, herbal product usage, acupuncture, yoga, homeopathy etc.

Visit Health One Family Medicine for a Thyroid Checkup

If you are having one or more of the symptoms that are prevalent in common thyroid diseases, head over to Health One Family Medicine today for a checkup. We specialize in thyroid testing procedures and can recommend the best treatment options for you or your family members. To book an appointment with us, visit our website or call (469)262-5762 today.

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