What is an Abnormal Thyroid?
Thyroid is an important gland in the body that functions in regulating the metabolism, heart rate, blood pressure, and body temperature and body weight. It is a small gland located in the throat area near the voice box. Thyroid gland releases various hormones vital for the body process to maintain normal function. Abnormal thyroid happens when there is a disruption in the level of hormones secreted by this gland. The hormone released could either go up or go down. Abnormalities in thyroid level are classified in to two types and each described according to the level of hormone produced and these are:
- Hypothyroidism – is a condition of underactive thyroid characterized by insufficiency in thyroid hormone level due to decrease in production of hormone.
- Hyperthyroidism – is a condition of overactive thyroid characterized by excess in production of thyroid hormone.
Thyroid abnormality may cause a multitude of symptoms and if left untreated may lead to various and serious complications. Children and adults even infant can get affected by thyroid abnormality.
Abnormal Thyroid Symptoms
Symptoms of abnormal thyroid depend on the activity of production of thyroid hormone or the type of abnormal thyroid an individual is experiencing. Each type has distinct signs and symptoms and these are:
In hypothyroidism the body processes function at a slower pace than normal.
- Disturbed sleeping pattern
- Feeling cold all the time
- Dry skin
- Thinning hair
- Unexplained weight gain
- Cognitive function disturbance such of forgetfulness
- Increased volume of menstrual period
- Erectile dysfunction in men
In hyperthyroidism the body processes move at a faster pace than normal.
- Shaking or muscle trembling
- Feeling hot all the time
- Difficulty sleeping
- Decreased volume of menstrual period
- Irritable mood
- Frequent sweating
- Eyesight problem
Abnormal Thyroid Causes
Causes of imbalance in thyroid hormone differ according to the level an individual may experience and each type of thyroid abnormality has their own factors affecting the level of thyroid hormone.
- Hashimoto’s disease – is most common cause of hypothyroidism and is defined as autoimmune disease where the immune system attacks the thyroid gland resulting it to malfunction.
- Lymphocytic thyroiditis – inflammation of the thyroid gland caused by a particular type of white blood cell.
- Thyroid destruction secondary to hyperthyroidism treatment and therapy specifically radioactive iodine treatment.
- Secondary hypothyroidism caused by pituitary disease.
- Tertiary hypothyroidism caused by hypothalamic disease
- Brain surgery may lead to pituitary injury resulting to thyroid malfunction as thyroid can no longer be stimulated by the pituitary gland.
- Prescribed medications for hyperthyroidism can alter thyroid gland function which may result to hypothyroidism.
- Grave’s disease – is the most common cause of hyperthyroidism characterized as inability of the thyroid gland to respond to pituitary gland control. The disease is said to be hereditary and more common to women than in men.
- Functioning nodule independently producing hormone.
- Toxic multinodular goiter where more than one functioning nodule exist.
- Pituitary gland tumor which causes high secretion of thyroid stimulating hormone.
- Inflammation of the thyroid associated with fever and sore throat.
- Adverse effect of medication specifically that of medication to treat heart problems that contains a large amount of iodine.
Abnormal Thyroid Treatment
Addressing thyroid abnormality starts with treating the cause of imbalance in thyroid hormone level. Hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism can be both treated and there is no cause for alarm except for cases in which thyroid abnormality is a secondary complication or left untreated.
Hypothyroidism requires life-long therapy except for certain condition. T4 treatment is commonly use for hypothyroidism being a more stable form of hormone and only requires a dosage of once a day. T4 can be converted readily to T3 in the bloodstream which is regulated by the tissues of the body. Life-long therapy of hypothyroidism needs regular monitoring at six weeks intervals until thyroid hormone level is stable.
Hyperthyroidism treatment has to consider some factors such as age, physical condition including the severity of the condition. Treatment includes:
- Radioactive Iodine treatment – orally taken and easily absorbed by the thyroid gland and causing it to shrink in size.
- Thyroidectomy – surgical removal of the thyroid gland which is rarely recommended.
- Beta Blockers – prescribed to decrease heart rate and prevent palpitations.
- Anti-thyroid Medications – prevents the thyroid gland from producing excessive hormone and gradually reduce symptoms of hyperthyroidism.
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