What is thyroid gland?
A thyroid gland is an endocrine gland; which manufactures thyroid hormone that is essential for the function of every tissue in the body.
Where is the thyroid gland in our body?
The thyroid gland is located in the lower part of the neck.
What does the thyroid gland do?
The thyroid gland produces thyroid hormones which it secretes into the bloodstream, which then act to affect cells and tissues in other parts of the body. Thyroid hormones regulate the speed at which your body cells work. Thyroid hormones also help children grow and develop
What are common disorders of thyroid gland?
- Hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid gland)
- Hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid gland)
- Goiter (enlargement of thyroid gland, visible as neck swelling)
- Thyroid malignancy (cancer of thyroid gland)
What is hypothyroidism?
Hypothyroidism means that the thyroid gland can’t make enough thyroid hormone to keep the body running normally.
What causes hypothyroidism?
Most cases of hypothyroidism are caused by a condition called Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, in which a patient’s immune system attacks and destroys the thyroid. Iodine deficiency used to be a common cause in India but after iodized salt became widely available has now become rare. It can also be caused by treatment of hyperthyroidism or by certain medications, and it may be present from birth.
How do I suspect hypothyroidism (under functioning of thyroid)?
Common complaints include fatigue and lethargy, cold sensitivity, dry skin and lifeless hair, impaired concentration and memory, increased weight, puffiness and constipation. Patients may also fairly often experience a hoarse voice, tingling of the hands, heavy or delayed menstrual periods, deafness and joint aches. In childhood there may be delayed development and puberty. Some patients have a swelling in the front of the neck due to thyroid enlargement (a goiter).
Can I have hypothyroidism even if I don?t have any of above mentioned symptoms?
Yes. Many patients have relatively few of the classical signs or symptoms just listed. In fact, nowadays most patients often are diagnosed at an early stage of disease, due to increased awareness and improved testing
How is the diagnosis of hypothyroidism made?
Your doctor will be able to get a good assessment of your thyroid gland activity by taking a history of your symptoms and by a physical examination. However to confirm the diagnosis, it is necessary to get laboratory tests that measure thyroid function test (TFT; serum T4 and TSH levels).
How is hypothyroidism treated?
With synthetic thyroxine (T4). Thyroxine (T4) is the major hormone produced by the thyroid gland and pure synthetic T4, taken once daily by mouth, successfully treats the symptoms of hypothyroidism in most patients. The current branded forms of synthetic T4 are Eltroxin, Thyronorm, Thyrox, Thyroup, Thyrofit,Thyobuild, Lethyrox, Thyrocheck etc. Because of variations in the potency of T4 made by different manufacturers, including generic preparations, it is best to stay on T4 from a single manufacturer whenever possible.
How long do I need to take treatment, if I have hypothyroidism?
It depends on diagnosis. It can be a few months as in case of viral thyroiditis. However, in most cases, you may have to take treatment lifelong so as to keep your hormone levels in normal range.
Why I need to regularly monitor my treatment, if I am on treatment for hypothyroidism?
If you are not taking enough T4, some of the symptoms of hypothyroidism may continue. If you take too much, you may have symptoms of an overactive thyroid, including nervousness, a racing heart, trouble sleeping, and shaking. You should get repeated your thyroid function test as per advice of your doctor.
What is hyperthyroidism (over functioning of thyroid)?
If too much of the thyroid hormones are secreted, the body cells work faster than normal, and you have thyroid overactivity or ‘hyperthyroidism’ (also referred to as “thyrotoxicosis”).
How do I suspect hyperthyroidism (over functioning of thyroid)?
Common complaints include fatigue, heat intolerance, sweating, weight loss despite good appetite, shakiness, inappropriate anxiety, palpitations of the heart, shortness of breath, tetchiness and agitation, poor sleep, thirst, nausea and increased frequency of defecation, enlarged thyroid gland and prominent or bulging eyes. Children tend to have hyperactivity, with a short attention span. It is not uncommon for people to worry that they have cancer, because of the associated weight loss.
What is Goitre?
Goitre is an enlargement of the thyroid Gland, which is situated in front of the neck. In many cases it is related to abnormal thyroid hormone levels.
Can I have a normal hormone level and yet have Goitre?
Yes, it is possible.