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Thyroid

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Overview

Thyroid is a small gland, similar to a butterfly, situated in the lower part of the neck. The primary objective of this gland is to secrete hormones such as tri-iodothyronine, abbreviated as T3, and thyroxin, abbreviated as T4. These thyroid hormones provide energy to cells of the body and are one of the most important hormones to control the body’s metabolism. The most common thyroid problems include Hypothyroidism, Hyperthyroidsim.

The most common thyroid problems include:

  • Hypothyroidism - An underactive thyroid
  • Hyperthyroidism - An overactive thyroid
  • Goitre - An enlarged thyroid
  • Thyroid nodules - Lumps in the thyroid gland
  • Thyroid cancer - Malignant thyroid nodules or tissue
  • Thyroiditis - Inflammation of the thyroid

Signs and Symptoms

  • Thyroid goiter
  • Palpitations
  • Excess sweating
  • Diarrhea
  • Weight loss
  • Muscle weakness
  • Unusual sensitivity to heat
  • Increased appetite

Causes

Most common causes of hypothyroidism are:

  • Hashimoto’s thyroiditis
  • Pituitary or hypothalamic disease
  • Medications
  • Severe iodine deficiency

Treatment

With the exception of certain conditions, thyroid problems require life-long treatment. The treatment options are:

  • Dietary changes
  • Medication - The two main types of medicines used to treat hyperthyroidism are anti-thyroid drugs and beta-blockers.
  • Lifestyle changes
  • Physical exercise
  • Radioactive iodine - Destroying the thyroid with radiation, called radioiodine ablation, is a permanent way to resolve hyperthyroidism. The amount of radiation used is small and does not cause cancer.
  • Surgery - Although it is a permanent cure for hyperthyroidism, surgery to remove the thyroid gland is used far less often than anti-thyroid drugs or radioactive iodine because of the risks associated with thyroid surgery.