Thyroid disease is actually fairly common. With the thyroid gland being responsible for influencing almost all the metabolic processes in the body, if anything is wrong with the thyroid, it can have a major impact on how someone feels.
What does the thyroid actually do?
The thyroid produces hormones that signal bodily processes, regulating things like energy levels, metabolism, etc. The most common problems involve producing too little or too much of the thyroid hormone, resulting in an imbalance with these processes.
Types of thyroid diseases
Thyroid disease comes in many types. Some conditions may make the person more restless or extremely tired, while others may cause the person to lose or gain weight. Depending on the type of thyroid disease a person suffers from, the symptoms can differ. This sometimes makes it difficult for a person to know if their thyroid is out of balance.
Hyperthyroidism is an over-production of hormones in the body from the thyroid gland. The condition can be caused by:
- Malfunctions or cancer in the pituitary gland
- Subacute thyroiditis
- Grave's disease
- Toxic adenomas
Hypothyroidism comes from having under-producing hormones from the gland. Generally, when hypothyroidism is experienced, the energy levels of the person would also be low, since a certain amount of hormones is required to feel energized. Some causes of hypothyroidism include:
- Lithium, the suppressant medication
- Having the thyroid gland removed
- Being exposed to excessive amounts of iodine
- Hashimoto's thyroiditis
- Pituitary disorder
- Defective thyroid
In addition …
Hypothyroidism is especially dangerous if it is not found and treated within a specific amount of time. Those with this disease can fall into a coma without the necessary treatment. Newborns are most susceptible to hypothyroidism and must be checked soon after birth. When a test is completed, those found to have lower-than-normal results will start treatment immediately. Those who do not receive treatment can suffer serious health problems.
How are thyroid diseases diagnosed?
Thyroid diseases are often hard to detect because they have the same symptoms of many other conditions. There are a few specific tests that are conducted to learn whether a person is suffering from a thyroid-related disease.
Blood tests read the level of TSH, or the thyroid-stimulating hormone, in the bloodstream. Generally, when levels are too high or too low, this indicates an issue. If the levels are off, another blood test is recommended to re-test the findings.
Radioiodine is used to dye various parts of the body. This allows the scan to read any areas of concern. It is a simple test that takes pictures of the thyroid nodules in the body.
An ultrasound is performed to view the nodules in the thyroid to find problem areas. This shows how large the nodule is and if it is of any concern based on the size and shape. Some may need to have regular thyroid scans to see if the thyroid is shrinking or growing.
In order to learn more about the issues with the thyroid, a biopsy may need to be performed. A small needle is inserted into the nodule in the thyroid, and a sample of fluid and cells is taken. This sample is assessed in a lab. The results are sent to the doctor and then to the patient.
We can complete tests to determine what, if anything, is wrong with the thyroid.
Anyone who thinks they could have thyroid disease should call us for an appointment. We can complete the necessary tests and discuss next steps after reviewing their results.
Call (410) 849-4212 today to reach Bel Air Family Care.