Thyroid Gland is a butterfly-shaped gland situated in the front of the neck just below Adam’s apple and wrapped around trachea. The conditions that affect this gland are known as Thyroid Disorders and different Thyroid Disorders affect the structure and function of the gland. Thyroid Gland plays an important role in regulating various metabolic processes in the body. Thyroxine also is known as T4 is the primary hormone produced by the gland with the help of iodine. After entering into the bloodstream and into the body’s tissues, the remaining amount of T4 is converted into the most active hormone T3 (Tri-iodothyronine). As the thyroid gland is in control of the pituitary gland and hypothalamus hence any disorder in these glands or tissues can lead to thyroid disorders as well.
What are the types of Thyroid Disorders?
There are mainly 5 types of Thyroid Disorders:
Hypothyroidism - Insufficient production of thyroid hormones. Symptoms include fatigue, lack of concentration, constipation, dry skin, depression, etc and causes include Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, thyroid hormone resistance, and acute thyroiditis, etc
Hyperthyroidism - Excessive production of thyroid hormones. Less common than Hypothyroidism. Symptoms include nervousness, tremors, weight loss, increased heart rate, intolerance of heat. Causes include graves disease, multinodular goiter, and excessive iodine consumption, etc
Goiter - Enlargement of the thyroid gland.
Thyroid Nodules - Nodes, lumps or abnormal masses in the thyroid gland.
Thyroid Cancer - There are different types of thyroid cancers depending on the prognosis treatment is planned. The survival rate is high, especially when diagnosed in early stages.
How are Thyroid Disorders diagnosed?
Blood Test: Generally measures TSH, T3, and T4 levels
Imaging Test: This test is done to check the nodules on or in the thyroid gland.
Ultrasound helps to visualize the cyst or calcification of the tissue.
Thyroid Scans: During this test radioactive iodine is used to evaluate the thyroid function.
Fine needle aspiration: Also known as Biopsy. It is done to collect a tissue sample that further can be sent to the lab to check for the cancerous cells.
What are Thyroid Disorders Treatment?
Thyroid Medication: Missing or underproduced thyroid hormone during hypothyroidism can be replaced by the hormone medication. Another medication is given in managing the symptoms of hyperthyroidism. If the symptoms of hyperthyroidism do not subside even after medication, radioactive ablation can be performed as it destroys thyroid tissues selectively.
Thyroid Surgery: Surgery can be performed to treat goiter or hyperfunctioning nodules. Partial or total thyroidectomy can also be performed in cases such as Graves’ disease, etc.
What is the upshot of Thyroid Disorders?
Generally, thyroid disorders are well managed with the combination of medications and lifestyle modifications and the disorders are not life-threatening as well.
Some thyroid disorders need surgery, but the outlook is that most people even with thyroid cancer are good but an individual with thyroid cancer that has spread throughout the body has a poor prognosis.