Thyroid gland is one of the most important endocrine glands of the body as it produces hormones that play vital roles in various systems throughout the body. When the thyroid gland produces less or excess of these vital hormones, a disease occurs. Thyroid diseases are of different types, including hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, and De Quervian thyroiditis.
The thyroid is a small, butterfly-shaped organ located at the front of the neck. It is smaller in the middle and has two wing-like structures that extend around the side of the throat. The thyroid gland produces hormones that regulate many important functions and processes of the body. When the thyroid gland doesn’t function properly, your entire body can get affected. If the thyroid gland produces excess thyroid hormone, the condition is called hyperthyroidism. On the other hand, if it produces too little thyroid hormone, the condition is called hypothyroidism. Both conditions need to be treated by a healthcare provider as these can lead to serious consequences.
The thyroid gland has a vital role to play in the body - producing thyroid hormones that regulate metabolism. Metabolism is the process in which the food you consume is converted to energy. This energy is used up by the entire body to keep the different processes going.
The thyroid gland regulates metabolism with certain hormones - T3 (triiodothyronine, contains three iodide atoms) and T4 (thyroxine, contains four iodide atoms). These two hormones are released by the thyroid gland and they let the cells of the body know how much energy to consume. When the thyroid functions properly, the right amount of hormones required to keep the metabolism going at the right pace are maintained. As the hormones are exhausted, the thyroid creates replacements.
All this is supervised by another endocrine gland called the pituitary gland which lies in the centre of the skull beneath the brain. The pituitary gland regulates the amount of thyroid hormones released in the bloodstream. When it senses a high level of hormones or lack of thyroid hormones in the body, it adjusts the amounts by releasing its own hormone called thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH). This hormone is sent to the thyroid gland, where it lets it know what needs to be done to get the body back to normal state.
Thyroid disease refers to medical conditions that prevent the thyroid gland from producing the right amount of hormones. Typically, the thyroid produces hormones to keep the body working normally. When it produces excess thyroid hormone, the body utilizes energy too fast. This state is referred to as hyperthyroidism. Depleting energy too fast does more than making you feel tired. It can increase the heart rate, cause weight loss, and even make you nervous. On the other hand, when the thyroid produces too little thyroid hormone, the condition is referred to as hypothyroidism. This condition makes you feel fatigued, results in weight gain, and you may develop cold intolerance.
These two medical conditions related to the thyroid gland can occur due to a wide range of disorders. They can also be passed down in the families.
Anyone can be affected by thyroid disease - be it men, women, teenagers, infants, or the elderly. It can be congenital (present at birth) or acquired (developed later in life). Thyroid diseases are quite common and females are about 5-8 times more likely to be diagnosed with them than males. Following are some conditions that may increase your susceptibility to developing the disease:
The two most common types of thyroid disorders are hypo- and hyper-thyroidism. Both disorders can occur due to other diseases that affect the way the thyroid gland functions.
Following are some of the conditions that can result in hypothyroidism:
Following are the conditions that lead to hyperthyroidism:
Having diabetes puts you at a higher risk of developing thyroid-related medical conditions. Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune condition. If you already suffer from an autoimmune condition, you are more susceptible to developing another one. The risk is lower for people with Type 2 diabetes but it is still there. If you are suffering from Type 2 diabetes, you are more susceptible to developing a thyroid disorder later in life.
Regular testing is recommended to determine if you have a thyroid disease. Those who are suffering from Type 1 diabetes may be tested more frequently - immediately post-diagnosis and then every year, than those suffering from Type 2 diabetes. There is no regular schedule for testing for people with Type 2 diabetes. However, your doctor may suggest a schedule on the basis of your medical conditions and overall health.
If you already have diabetes and test positive for thyroid disease, there are a few steps you can take to help feel the best possible. Following are some of them
A variety of symptoms can occur in people with thyroid disease. However, the symptoms of thyroid disorders are quite similar to those of other medical conditions. This can make diagnosis quite challenging in the beginning.
Generally, the symptoms of thyroid disorders can be divided into two categories— those related to having too little thyroid hormone (hypothyroidism) and those related to having too much thyroid hormone (hyperthyroidism).
Following are the symptoms of hyperthyroidism or an overactive thyroid:
Following are the symptoms of hypothyroidism or an underactive thyroid:
Loss of hair is a symptom of a thyroid disorder, especially hypothyroidism. If you start noticing loss of hair that is making you feel worried, you must talk to an expert doctor. If you are based in Indore, you must consult thyroid specialists at Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital, Indore for further diagnosis and care.
Generally, thyroid disorders do not lead to seizure. However, in very severe cases of hypothyroidism that hasn’t been treated, your risk of developing hyponatremia increases. This can result in seizures.
Thyroid disease can be challenging to be diagnosed sometimes as the symptoms can easily be confused with those of other related disorders. You may notice similar symptoms during ageing or pregnancy. However, there are tests that help doctors to find out if your symptoms are secondary to a thyroid disorder. These tests include physical examination, blood tests, and imaging tests.
One of the most reliable methods to diagnose a thyroid disease is by carrying out blood tests. Blood tests are used to determine if the thyroid gland is working normally. This is done by measuring the amount of thyroid hormones in the blood. These tests are performed by taking blood from a vein and checking it for hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism, and other thyroid disorders. Other thyroid disorders like Grave’s disease, thyroiditis, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, goitre, thyroid cancer, and thyroid nodule can also be excluded.
The specific blood tests performed to diagnose thyroid diseases include:
Following are the additional blood tests performed:
Examination of the thyroid gland can answer a lot of questions in many cases. Your doctor might perform an imaging test called thyroid scan, which allows him to visualise the thyroid for increased shape, size, or growth. He might also suggest an imaging test called an ultrasound, which is a diagnostic procedure that involves transmission of high-frequency sound waves through the body tissues. The echoes are recorded and converted into photographic or video images. Unlike with X-rays, no radiation is used with ultrasounds.
Before ultrasound, there is typically little or no preparation needed. Your diet needs not to be changed before it. During the procedure, you will be asked to lie flat on a padded examination table with your head placed on a pillow so that it is tilted back. A warm, water-soluble gel is rubbed over the skin that has to be examined. It takes around 20-30 minutes.
Another way to check for abnormalities in your thyroid gland is with a physical examination at your doctor’s clinic. Your doctor will feel your neck for any growths or enlargement of the thyroid.
Your doctor aims to return your thyroid hormone levels to normal. This can be done in a variety of ways and each specific treatment will depend on the underlying cause of your thyroid condition. If you have high levels of thyroid hormones (hyperthyroidism), treatment options can include anti-thyroid medications, radioactive iodine, and surgery.
Regular exercise is an essential part of a healthy lifestyle and does not interfere with the normal functioning of your thyroid gland. It is important to talk to your healthcare provider before you start a new exercise routine to make sure that it’s a good fit for you.
A thyroid disease is often a life-long medical condition that will need constant medical care. It often involves daily medication. Your doctor will supervise your treatment and make adjustments over time. However, you can usually live a fulfilled life with a thyroid disease. It may take some time to find the right treatment option for you and manage your hormone levels, but then people with these types of conditions can generally live life without many limitations.
If you have a thyroid disease and are located in Indore, you can visit Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital and get an appointment with the best thyroid specialists in Indore. The endocrinologists at Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital, Indore are highly talented and have years of experience in the field. They formulate tailored treatment plans for every patient that suit their medical needs and overall condition.