The thyroid gland is located in the neck below the Adams’ apple. Under normal conditions, it cannot be felt unless there are problems. The thyroid’s responsibility is to produce thyroid hormones that control the body’s metabolism rate. The thyroid depends on the pituitary gland, located near the bottom of the brain stem, to tell it how much hormone it needs to release.
These two glands work together in that the pituitary gland releases a thyroid-stimulating hormone, or TSH, which tells the thyroid how much hormone to release. TSH levels can be confusing to many people because the definition seems opposite of what it means. A high TSH level is indicative of not enough thyroid hormone, and a low level means there is too much thyroid hormone.
There are several types of Thyroid Disorders. However, the most prevalent are underactive or overactive thyroid conditions. Underactive thyroid problems are known as hypothyroidism. The thyroid does not produce enough thyroid hormone. Symptoms include depression, weight gain, and extreme lethargy and sluggishness. The opposite occurs in hyperthyroidism and often creates feelings of anxiousness, nervousness, hyperactivity, and unplanned weight loss.
In a nutshell, all occurrences of hyperthyroidism result from the excessive release of hormones into the bloodstream. Some of the reasons for thyroid problems include conditions such as Graves’ disease which is an auto-immune condition and happens to be the most common cause of hyperthyroidism. Subacute thyroiditis is an inflammation that causes the thyroid gland to leak hormones.
Common causes for hypothyroidism include Hashimoto’s disease, an autoimmune disorder that causes the body to turn on the thyroid. Excess concentrations of iodide, found in a sinus, cold, and flu medicines can result in an increased risk of developing hypothyroidism.
The physicians at can diagnose thyroid disorders using a simple blood test to test for TSH levels. Other blood tests may be ordered to determine the cause of hyperthyroidism. Radioactive uptake ultrasounds are useful to determine if the nodules or adenomas of the thyroid gland are excreting excess hormone.
Treatment for Thyroid Disorders is primarily surgical or medical. Treatments for hyperthyroidism involves the suppression of the thyroid hormone, whereas treating hypothyroidism requires thyroid replacement drugs. Suppression of thyroid hormone can be done by radioactive iodine treatment, surgery, or anti-thyroid drugs. After treatment, many people become hypothyroid and may have to take synthetic thyroid medication.
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