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The thyroid is a tiny, butterfly-shaped gland that generates the hormones triiodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine (T4). It is located near the base of the front of the neck. These hormones have an impact on all elements of metabolism as well as the regulation of critical activities like body temperature and heart rate.

In order to create T4 and T3, the thyroid gland requires sufficient levels of dietary iodine.

Types of Thyroid Problems

The following are the most common thyroid issues:

  • Hyperthyroidism is a condition in which the thyroid gland generates too much hormone. It's also known as hyperthyroidism.

  • Hypothyroidism is a condition in which the thyroid gland does not generate enough hormone. It's also known as hypothyroidism.

  • Thyroid Cancer: occurs when certain thyroid cells become malignant.

  • Goiter is an enlargement of the thyroid gland that is particularly big. A swelling in the neck is usually the only symptom of a goiter. A large goiter can also produce a sore throat, coughing, and difficulty swallowing or breathing.

  • Thyroid Nodules are a type of toxic nodular goiter, often known as multinodular goiter. Thyroid nodules are growths on or inside the thyroid gland that can cause the gland to overproduce hormones.

  • Thyroiditis is an inflammatory condition of the thyroid gland that can be caused by hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism. Thyroiditis can be caused by an autoimmune disease (particularly Hashimoto thyroiditis), an infection, exposure to a thyroid-toxic substance, or an unknown cause (idiopathic).

What are the effects of thyroid issues on women?

Thyroid disease is more common in women than in males, especially after pregnancy and after menopause. Thyroid problems in women can lead to:

  • Menstrual irregularities: The thyroid aids in the regulation of the menstrual cycle. Periods might be light, heavy, or irregular due to hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism. Thyroid disease can cause amenorrhea, which is when a woman's period stops for several months or more, and can potentially lead to early menopause (before age 40).

  • Challenges to becoming pregnant
    When thyroid dysfunction interferes with the menstrual cycle, it also interferes with ovulation, making conception more difficult.

  • Obstacles in pregnancy
    Thyroid issues during pregnancy can affect both the mother and the baby's health.

Causes of Hypothyroidism?

Hypothyroidism is caused by the following conditions:

Congenital defects
Removal of the thyroid gland
Postpartum thyroiditis
Iodine deficiency
  • Hashimoto's thyroiditis: Hypothyroidism is caused by the most common cause. When the body's immune system mistakenly targets and destroys the thyroid gland and its ability to produce hormones, the disease develops.
  • Postpartum thyroiditis: Thyroid inflammation that occurs after childbirth and affects about 10% of women.
  • Removal of the thyroid gland: It's possible that the thyroid was surgically removed or chemically damaged.
  • Medications: Drug-induced hypothyroidism can be caused by a number of drugs, including lithium.
  • Congenital defects: Mental retardation, goiter, and small height are all symptoms of hypothyroidism, which can be present from birth.
  • Iodine deficiency: Iodine deficiency reduces the thyroid gland's ability to produce enough thyroid hormone.

Causes of Hyperthyroidism?

Hyperthyroidism is caused by the following conditions:

Graves' Disease
Thyroid Nodules
Pituitary Adenoma
Subacute Thyroiditis
  • Graves’ Disease: Hyperthyroidism is caused by the most common cause. Graves' disease is an autoimmune condition in which the immune system targets the thyroid gland by mistake. This can cause the gland to generate too much of the hormone that controls metabolism.
  • Thyroid Nodules: Toxic nodular goitre, also known as multinodular goitre, is a disorder that affects the thyroid gland. Thyroid nodules are growths on or inside the thyroid gland that can cause the gland to overproduce hormones.
  • Pituitary Adenoma: The thyroid gland is overstimulated as a result of a pituitary tumour.
  • Subacute Thyroiditis: Due to the inflammation, a transient inflammatory disease of the thyroid gland occurs, leading in times of elevated thyroid hormone secretion.

What are the Symptoms of Hypothyroidism?

Common symptoms of Hypothyroidism:

Weight gain
Increased sensitivity to cold
Dry skin
Puffy face
Muscle weakness
Muscle aches
Thinning hair
Slowed heart rate
Impaired memory
Enlarged thyroid gland (goitre)
Irregular menstrual periods

Babies with hypothyroidism may have:

  • Cold hands and feet
  • Constipation
  • Extreme sleepiness
  • Hoarse cry
  • Little or no growth
  • Low muscle tone
  • Persistent jaundice
  • Poor feeding habits
  • Puffy face
  • Stomach bloating
  • Swollen tongue

Children and teens have the same signs and symptoms as adults, but they may also experience:

  • Poor growth, resulting in short stature
  • Delayed development of permanent teeth
  • Delayed puberty
  • Poor mental development

What are the Symptoms of Hyperthyroidism?

Common symptoms of Hyperthyroidism

Muscle weakness
Infrequent, scant menstrual periods
Weight loss
Trouble sleeping
Enlarged thyroid gland
Vision problems
Heat sensitivity
Racing heart

How is Thyroid disease diagnosed?

Thyroid disease must be diagnosed and treated as soon as possible. To check thyroid function, doctors may request one or more blood tests.

  • TSH (Thyroid Stimulating Hormone)

    TSH (thyroid-stimulating hormone) levels in the blood are measured in this test. The anterior pituitary gland produces TSH, which activates the thyroid. This test is used to detect hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism, as well as to screen infants for hypothyroidism and track thyroid medication.

  • T4, Free

    Thyroid gland function and thyroid disorders, such as hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism, are assessed using this test. Free T4 is also used to diagnose babies with congenital hypothyroidism.

    T4 in the blood is almost entirely linked to protein. The remaining portion is free (unbound) and is the hormone's physiologically active form. This test determines how much free T4 is present in the blood.

  • T3 Free and Total

    It aids in the assessment of thyroid gland function and the diagnosis of thyroid disorders such as hyperthyroidism. It also aids in the monitoring of the success of thyroid problem medication.

    T3 is almost entirely linked to protein in the blood. The remaining portion is free (unbound) and is the hormone's physiologically active form. This test determines the amount of free T3 and total T3 in the blood (bound and unbound).

  • Thyroid Antibodies

    This test detects thyroid antibodies in the blood and aids in the diagnosis and monitoring of autoimmune thyroid illnesses, as well as the differentiation of these from other types of thyroid disease.

    Antibodies are proteins produced by the immune system in order to combat external invaders such as viruses and bacteria. Thyroid antibodies come in a variety of forms.

Thyroid peroxidase (TPO) antibodies: Antibodies like these can indicate Hashimoto thyroiditis or Graves' disease.

Thyroglobulin antibodies (Tg): Graves' disease and Hashimoto thyroiditis can both be indicated by these antibodies. Tg and TPO antibodies are commonly found in persons with Hashimoto thyroiditis.

Thyroid-stimulating hormone receptor antibodies (TSHR): Grave's disease can be indicated by these antibodies.

  • Thyroglobulin

    The amount of thyroglobulin, a protein generated by the thyroid gland, in the blood is measured in this test. This test is used to track thyroid cancer treatment and detect recurrence.

Non-Laboratory Tests

  • Thyroid scans A specialised imaging process used to diagnose thyroid gland anomalies and assess thyroid function in various locations of the thyroid gland.

  • Ultrasound An imaging scan of the thyroid to look for abnormalities such as cysts, nodules, or malignancies.