The normal thyroid gland consists of two lobes joined by an isthmus in the middle. It lies in the anterior part of the neck just below the thyroid cartilage. Thyroid gland synthesis two hormones, T3 and T4, from iodine in the diet. When a thyroid makes too much or too less of these hormones known as thyroid disorders.
Functions Of Thyroid Hormones
- They control the general metabolism by regulating the rate of oxidation and production of energy. They maintain the basal metabolic rate of the body.
- They promote growth of body tissues and development of mental functions during infancy and childhood.
- They sanitise the tissues to the action of endogenous catecholamines. Therefore, excess of these hormones lead to symptoms and signs of sympathetic stimulation.
Exploring Different Thyroid Disorders
There are specific kinds of thyroid disorders, which are –
- Grave’s disease
- Thyroid nodules
- Thyroid Cancer
It is a clinical state that results from exposure of the body tissues to excess of circulating free thyroid hormones. All tissues that contain thyroid receptors are affected. Causes result from either excess of T3 and T4, the latter is a rare cause of hyperthyroidism. These causes include grave’s disease, toxic nodular goitre, drug induced, thyroiditis, iodine induced and thyroid carcinoma.
The clinical symptoms and signs includes :
- Weight loss
- Increase in bowel movement
- Heat intolerance
- Outburst of anger
- Excessive thirst
- Fast heart rate
It is a clinical condition under thyroid disorders caused by low levels of circulating thyroid hormones. It is called primary when the cause of it lies in the thyroid itself. It becomes secondary when occurs due to the disease of anterior pituitary. Common causes of hypothyroidism are maternally transmitted, Hashimoto thyroiditis, deficiency of iodine, food goitrogens and transient due to thyroiditis.
Clinical symptoms and signs includes :
- Weight gain
- Slow pulse rate
- Aches and pains
- Dry thick skin
It simply describes enlargement of the thyroid gland. Common types of goitre are diffuse goitre, nodular goitre, and multi nodular goitre. People having conditions like insulin resistance, obesity and metabolic syndrome, are more likely to develop goitre.
The common symptoms includes :
- Neck vein swelling
- Rapid heart rate
It is the most common thyroid disorder producing hyperthyroidism. It is characterised by a triad of symptoms such as diffuse goitre, exophthalmos and pre tibial myxoedema, which differentiates it from other thyroid disorders It can occur at any age but is common between 30 – 50 years old age group.
The common symptoms includes :
- Signs of hyperthyroidism
- Diffuse goitre
- Clubbing of fingers
- Weight Loss
- Irregular heart beat
- Bulging eyes
- Frequent bowel movements
Nodules are abnormal masses within the thyroid. Factors that lead to an increased risk of nodules are Smoking, iron deficiency, obesity, metabolic syndrome, alcohol consumption etc. Most thyroid nodules don’t cause symptoms. However, if you have several nodules or large nodules, you may be able to see them.
In rare cases, Symptoms includes :
- Voice changes
- Pain in front of the neck
- Trouble with breathing
- Enlargement of gland
It is a type of cancer that develops under the thyroid gland. The main types of cancer are differentiated, medullary and anapaestic. The most common symptom of cancer of the thyroid is a swelling that develops in the neck.
Under an advanced stage, symptoms may include :
- Unexplained hoarseness
- A lump in neck
- Difficulty swallowing
Tests And Interpretations Of Thyroid Disorders
- Thyroid function test – These tests are widely used for the diagnosis of various thyroid disorders. Their main drawback is that they measure the total amount of the hormone, the major portion of which is bound and is not taking part in metabolism.
- Estimation of TSH – It tests the integrity of hypothalamic-pituitary-thyroid axis. High level occurs in primary hypothyroidism and low level occurs in hyperthyroidism.
- Ultrasound of thyroid – This test is helpful to measure the size, mass and to detect shape and nodularity of the gland.
- Thyroid Scan – It is useful to detect functioning and non-functioning of nodules in the thyroid.
- Fine needle biopsy – Done in patients with nodular goitre to detect any malignant process.
The Art Of Treatment
Thyroid disorders can be treated by medications or, in some cases, surgery. Treatment will depend on the particular disease of the thyroid.
- Medications can be given to balance the deficiency of thyroid hormone in hypothyroidism. When hyperthyroidism is present, medications can be used to decrease the production of thyroid hormone or prevent its release from the gland.
- Thyroid surgery can be done to remove large goitre and when there is a possibility of cancer.
- Radioactive iodine, which damages cells of the thyroid, preventing it from making high levels of thyroid hormones.