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The basics of thyroid disorder

Before jumping on to the disorders faced by the thyroid gland, let’s get to know the gland first! The thyroid gland is a butterfly-shaped gland located in the front of neck below the Adam’s apple, wrapped around the trachea (windpipe). And this is a very important gland as it produces thyroid hormones, which regulate metabolic rate, are important in regulating body energy, body temperature, the body’s use of other hormones and vitamins, and the growth. It uses iodine to produce vital hormones. Thyroxine, also known as T4, is the primary hormone produced by the gland. After delivery via the bloodstream to the body’s tissues, a small portion of the T4 released from the gland is converted to triiodothyronine (T3), which is the most active hormone.

Thyroid disorders can range from a small, harmless goitre (enlarged gland) that needs no treatment to the life-threatening cancer. The most common thyroid problems, however, involve abnormal production of thyroid hormones. Both situations are bad, if too much thyroid hormone results in a condition known as hyperthyroidism then insufficient hormone production leads to hypothyroidism.

The common thyroid diseases are:

Hypothyroidism: Hypothyroidism is caused by the thyroid gland producing an insufficient amount of thyroid hormone. It can develop from problems within the thyroid gland, pituitary gland, or hypothalamus. And the most common characteristic is weight gain.

Hyperthyroidism: Whereas when the thyroid gland produces more than sufficient amount of thyroid hormone. It is characterised by an increased metabolism with the common symptom of weight loss. It can be caused by excessive iodine consumption, Graves’ disease, or toxic multinodular goiter.

Goiter: Simply described, goiter is the enlargement of the thyroid gland, regardless of cause. A goiter is not a specific disease per se and may be associated with hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism, or normal thyroid function.

Thyroid nodules: Nodules are lumps or abnormal masses within the thyroid that can be caused by benign cysts, benign tumours, or less commonly, cancer. Nodules may be single or multiple and can vary in size. If nodules are excessively large, they may then cause symptoms related to compression of nearby structures.

Thyroid cancer: This is a common disease in elder women than men or younger people. There are different kinds of thyroid cancer, depending upon the specific cell type within the thyroid that has become cancerous. Most cases of thyroid cancer that have a good prognosis and high survival rates, especially when diagnosed in its early stages.

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