The Most Common Thyroid Problems And How To Treat Them

Here's a helpful overview of some of the most common thyroid problems and what you can do to treat, manage, and heal from them

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March 27, 2019
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Although they are extremely common, thyroid problems are rarely discovered in early stages. Patients who suffer from it associate their symptoms with other medical issues. Therefore, only specialized medical control can determine that they are in fact suffering from a thyroid disorder.

Researchers suggest that more than 12 percent of the U.S population is affected by thyroid problems and do not even know it. Also, it has been noticed that women are more prevalent to suffer from thyroid disorders than men. According to Dr. Shira Eytan, Endocrinologist, getting the right treatment is essential to feel at your best and avoid the development of serious health problems. That is why it is crucial to understand what thyroid disorders do to your body and what symptoms may develop.

What is thyroid and how it works for your body?

The thyroid is often associated by medical specialists as the butterfly-shaped gland. It is located at the base of our necks below the larynx which is the voice box. Although we rarely discuss about it in our everyday lives, it is actually one of the most important glands of our bodies. The thyroid gland produces thyroid hormones that control the speed of our metabolism which is the system that helps our bodies use energy.

When thyroid disorders start to develop, the hormone levels become too low or high which triggers a wide range of symptoms. The thyroid accomplishes various crucial processes for the health of our bodies. Increasing the basal metabolic rate, ensuring body heat production, maintaining blood pressure, and regulating tissue growth and development are all processes sustained and accomplished with the help of the thyroid hormone.

Understanding metabolism

To understand how our metabolism can be affected by a thyroid disorder, first, we need to find out what exactly metabolism is. Metabolism is defined as the processes of the body to maintain life. It is often referred to in the context of weight issues. It is true that metabolism represents your body’s ability to break down food and convert it into energy. That is why many individuals complain about the inability of losing weight due to slow metabolism. Thyroid gland and metabolism are strongly connected. The thyroid gland is the one that keeps your body’s metabolism under control. By extracting iodine from the blood, it incorporates it into the thyroid hormones. The metabolism can be affected by a series of events and unhealthy habits including some medications, weight loss, aging, and, of course, the development of thyroid disorders.

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Common thyroid disorders

The thyroid gland can malfunction in many ways depending on how much thyroid hormone it releases and the growth of the gland’s tissue. Thyroid disorders can be developed at any age.  Some of the most common disorders include goiters, hyperthyroidism, hypothyroidism, solitary thyroid nodules, and thyroid cancer.

Goiters: Goiters is often defined by the medical specialist as the abnormal enlargement of the thyroid gland. It is usually a painless condition which can, however, cause coughing and breathing difficulties. A goiter is caused by iodine deficiency in the diet. Goiters rarely cause signs and symptoms. When they do occur they may include difficulties in swallowing, breathing, and hoarseness.

Hyperthyroidism: this thyroid condition is caused by the excessive release of thyroid hormone. It triggers the body’s metabolism to speed up which results in sudden and excessive weight loss. Goiter is usually a side effect of hyperthyroidism. The most common symptoms experienced include irritability, heat intolerance, insomnia, muscle weakness, and irregular heart rate.

Hypothyroidism: this condition is one of the most harmful thyroid disorders. When too little thyroid hormone is released, patients develop hypothyroidism. The body’s metabolism slows down which can cause serious side effects. It is a condition which individuals can be born with. Abnormal bone formation and mental retardation can be triggered by this condition in children who are born with it. Adults who develop it among time may experience symptoms such as fatigue, sensitivity to cold, weight gain, and menstrual cycle irregularities.

Solidary thyroid nodules: this is the most common thyroid disorder which people can experience. The nodules can result from the overgrowth of the thyroid gland’s tissue. It occurs often to people over the age of 50. Although it is a common disorder, the nodules are often harmless and have no symptoms. However, it is important to get a fine needle aspiration biopsy to determine whether the nodules are cancerous or not.

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Thyroid cancer: although the term cancer itself determines a serious harmful condition, with the right treatment thyroid cancer has excellent long-term survival rates. It is more often noticed to develop in women and people over the age of 30, but it can affect anyone at any age.

Thyroiditis: this thyroid disorder is the result of the inflammation of the thyroid. It may be associated with abnormal thyroid function. This condition can cause the death of the thyroid’s cells which triggers the inability of the gland to produce enough hormones to maintain the normal rates of the body’s metabolism. The thyroiditis disorder can be developed in five different types and each of them needs specific treatment.

The connection between stress and thyroid health 

Unfortunately, in our modern busy lifestyle, we deal with stress every day of our lives. Important work deadlines, commuting during the rush hours, and facing unfortunate events can make our stress levels get out of control. It is already widely known that experiencing high levels of stress for a prolonged period is significantly harmful to the body.

Apparently, stress and the appearance of thyroid disorders are strongly linked. Under stress, our bodies release the hormone cortisol. Large amounts of cortisol hormones can interfere with thyroid hormone production by stimulating the thyroid gland to produce too many hormones. Although stress alone cannot cause a thyroid disorder it can make the condition worse or play an important role in the appearance of it.

Conclusion

If you have experienced any of the symptoms mentioned above and are concerned that you may have a thyroid disorder, you can find out more information by discussing with a specialized endocrinologist.