The thyroid is the small butterfly-shaped organ in the middle part of the neck. It is also called the “master controller” because it is responsible for producing, storing, and releasing thyroid hormones into the blood. Thyroid hormones play an important role in our body affecting the brain and other organs.
What is the role of the thyroid?
The thyroid gland generates hormones that are required for various brain processes and the body’s metabolism. It also controls heart rate and body temperature. When the thyroid is not functioning properly, it can have an impact on other body processes, especially if it is not addressed.
The primary symptoms of an unhealthy or dysfunctional thyroid include mood swings and feeling fatigued despite getting enough sleep. It may also involve a sudden sensation of anxiousness, which might indicate that the thyroid is producing too much thyroid hormone. Other symptoms include the following:
· Hair loss
· Heat or Cold intolerance· Infertility
· Menstrual changes (irregular or frequent & heavy periods)
· Mental exhaustion
· Stool flow changes
· Weight increase or weight loss
Difference between Hypothyroidism vs Hyperthyroidism?
Several conditions can cause Hypothyroidism. These are:
This is a condition when the thyroid gland is inflamed/swollen. This condition causes a decrease in thyroid hormone production.
This is hereditary autoimmune condition wherein the body’s cells attack and damage the thyroid gland.
· Postpartum Thyroiditiso
It is generally a transient ailment that affects only 5-9 percent of women who give birth.
· Iodine Deficiencyo
Iodine is used by the thyroid gland to produce the hormones.
Hyperthyroidism is when the thyroid gland is overactive, thereby releasing high levels of thyroid hormone into the body.
Conditions that can cause Hyperthyroidism are:
· Grave’s Diseaseo
This is when the whole thyroid gland becomes hyperactive and produces excessive amounts of thyroid hormones. This condition is also called Diffuse Toxic Goiter.
This disorder can be either painful or not felt at all. Initially, the thyroid releases the hormones that were stored in the gland. This unregulated release of thyroid hormones can continue for a few weeks to months before Hypothyroidism sets in.
· Thyroid noduleso
A nodule is an unusual growth of thyroid cells in the gland. Nodules that are overactive may produce excessive amounts of the hormone that may be released in the body.
Consulting a doctor
There are several diagnostic tests that can be done to diagnose a thyroid disorder. Blood tests can be done to check the thyroid hormones (TSH, FT3 & FT4), presence of thyroid antibodies, Calcitonin and Thyroglobulin. Imaging tests such as ultrasound and thyroid scans are also available.
Once the diagnosis is confirmed, therapy can be started.
For Hyperthyroidism, oral medications can be taken to control the palpitations and stop the production of thyroid hormones. Procedures may also be done such as radioactive iodine ablation and surgery.
On the other hand, Hypothyroidism’s main treatment is to replace the thyroid hormone with the help of oral medications. It is also important to have an iodine rich diet such as seaweed or seafood.
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