It is assumed that one in five women at one period of life will experience the dysfunction of the thyroid gland, and the number of male patients is increasing too, experts say.
In addition to genetics, thyroid gland disease is caused by a stressful life, improper diet and changes in hormonal status such as pregnancy and menopause. Malfunctioning of this important gland is the second most frequent endocrine problem, after diabetes.
The first symptoms of the disorders of the thyroid gland, which is located in the neck below the Adam's apple, are swelling of the neck, unexplained loss or gain of weight, hair loss, and energy level and mood changes.
As thyroid gland controls the metabolism, its disorders can result in problems with fertility, and high blood pressure, heart failure and mental health problems in the form of depression.
The most common forms of thyroid disease are hypothyroidism, when the gland does not produce enough thyroid hormone, and hyperthyroidism, which is characterized by excessive secretion of hormones. As the state and causes of the disorder are different, so are other symptoms.
The most common method for diagnosing a problem is the analysis of thyroid hormones in the blood.
If hormone levels are not optimal, an ultrasound examination of the organ is performed.
If the thyroid gland tissue contains nodes, node puncture and scintigraphy are performed.
In some cases the problem goes away by itself, and in most cases the drug therapy is required. In the presence of nodes, as in hyperthyroidism, which could not be controlled over time, the surgery of the thyroid gland or radiation with radioactive iodine is performed.
The most common cause of insufficient secretion of thyroid hormone is an autoimmune disease called Hashimoto's syndrome, which is confirmed by testing of antibodies of the thyroid peroxidase (TPO) and thyroglobulin (Tg).
Autoimmune disease can exist even if the hormone disorder is not present. It is necessary to visit your doctor regularly, because even in that case there may be some symptoms of the disease.
- Weight gain without increased food intake
- Water retention in the body
- Constipation and problems with digestion
- Constant fatigue and lack of energy
- Menstrual cycle disorders
- Dry and scaly skin
- Hair loss
- Appearance of swelling in the neck ie goiter
- High blood pressure
- Heart palpitations
- Feeling cold due to reduced metabolism
- Psychomotor slowness
Treatment of hypothyroidism usually consists of the substitution of a natural thyroid hormone with synthetic one (levothyroxine sodium), taken by mouth every morning on an empty stomach, dose depending on the amount required by the body. With proper treatment of hypothyroidism the prognosis is excellent. The organism gradually restores normal hormone levels, with the disappearance of all symptoms and reduction of all biochemical abnormalities of hypothyroidism.
Hyperthyroidism is a condition which is characterized by excessive secretion of hormones, which is relatively common in women between 20 and 50 years of age, and lately it is more and more often in men too. It is usually the result of an autoimmune process, during which the body does not recognize the thyroid gland as its structure, and produces antibodies against it, with the consequence of its excessive stimulation. Hyperthyroidism can cause one or more nodes in a hyperactive thyroid gland, and less often a tumor.
Symptoms are often more pronounced than in hypothyroidism.
- Increased heart rate
- Excessive sweating
- Unexplained weight loss with increased appetite
- Frequent stools
- Subjective feeling of heat
- Shaking of hands and muscles of the body
- Hair loss
- Brittle nails
- Swelling in the neck
- Nervousness and mental discomfort
- Problems with insomnia
- Menstrual cycle disorders
- Problems with vision and bulging eyes
- Elevation of blood pressure
Treatment of hyperthyroidism includes therapy with antithyroid drugs such as propylthiouracil and thiamazole, which block the creation and release of thyroid hormones, as well as beta-blockers, which slow down the heart rate.
Symptoms of hyperthyroidism usually disappear after six to eight weeks of taking thyreostatics. Nevertheless, medicines should be taken for at least about a year (usually 12-24 months), and in some cases much longer, and the regular controls should continue.
In about 30-40% of cases after treatment with antithyroid drugs, the disease recurs. If it cannot be cured by taking medicines for a period of two years, then the solution is the treatment with radioactive iodine, or even partial or total removal of the thyroid gland.
In this way the hypothyroidism is induced, and it is necessary to continue the treatment with synthetic hormones.