The butterfly-shaped thyroid gland is located just above the collarbone. It secretes hormones that control the body’s metabolism. The thyroid controls the body’s rate of burning calories and the rate of heartbeats. These hormones play an important role in the regulation of the body’s overall temperature, energy, utilization of nutrients, and maturation and growth of tissues.
Health issues related to the thyroid gland occur when there is too much or too little secretion of thyroid hormones. This can lead to hyperthyroidism, hypothyroidism, or goiter. Goiter occurs due to the enlargement of the thyroid gland. Thyroid diseases also occur due to the growth of thyroid nodules in the thyroid gland. These nodules can be benign or malignant. The growth of malignant nodules known as thyroid cancer.
Causes of thyroid diseases
There are several conditions that lead to the overproduction or underproduction of thyroid hormones. The following are some of the triggers of thyroid diseases.
- Graves’s disease: This is one of the common causes of an overactive thyroid gland. This autoimmune condition leads to hyperthyroidism.
- Hashimoto’s disease: In this autoimmune disorder, the thyroid tissues are attacked by the immune system leading to underproduction of thyroid hormones. This leads to hypothyroidism.
- Toxic adenomas: There is a chemical imbalance caused in the body by the growth of nodules in the thyroid gland. The chemical imbalance is caused by the production of thyroid hormones by these nodules.
- Removal of the thyroid gland: For treating hyperthyroidism, the thyroid gland may be surgically removed or destroyed with medications. This may lead to hypothyroidism.
- Too much iodine: Overuse of medications for sinus and cold may produce too much iodine in the body. This may cause hypothyroidism. People who have a history of thyroid diseases are more prone to this.
- Subacute thyroiditis: In this, there is inflammation of the thyroid gland. This leads to overproduction of thyroid hormones, which leads to hyperthyroidism.
Treatment for thyroid disease
- Subacute thyroiditis treatment: Subacute thyroiditis causes temporary hyperthyroidism. No medical treatment is required for this condition. However, if the intensity of pain is quite high, doctors usually recommend aspirin or acetaminophen. Anti-inflammatory drugs are also prescribed in certain cases.
- Hyperthyroidism treatment: The overproduction of thyroid hormones is controlled through radioactive iodine treatment, anti-thyroid medication, and surgery. In radioactive iodine treatment, a doctor prescribes a liquid or tablet containing radioactive iodide. This destroys thyroid gland cells so that there are no more thyroid hormones produced. Surgery is often recommended pregnant women who can’t take anti-thyroid medications.
- Cancerous nodules: Goiter or cancerous nodules, which are bigger in size, are removed by surgical procedure. In case of thyroid cancer, the cancerous tissues or the entire thyroid gland is surgically removed.
- Hypothyroidism treatment: Once the production of thyroid hormones slows down, there is no treatment that boosts their production. A life-long treatment of thyroid replacement therapy is the only viable option in such cases. For hypothyroidism treatment, doctors prescribe synthetic forms of thyroid hormone. Pre-existing conditions such as diabetes and taking medications such as tricyclic antidepressants and blood-thinning medications can affect thyroid replacement therapies. Hence, it is essential to tell the doctor about these pre-existing conditions before starting a hormone replacement therapy.