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What to know about thyroid disorders


Thyroid disorders

Thyroid gland, located at the front of the neck helps to produce and release thyroid hormones into the bloodstream. Thyroid hormones control the rate of many activities in the body. When the thyroid gland is in bad condition, it could affect proper functioning of the body. Dr. Olayide A. Jinadu, Medical Director at Charis-Med Hospital, Lagos, explains thyroid disorders, the causes and treatment. He spoke with Geraldine AKUTU

Thyroid disorders and causes
THYROID disorders are a range of disturbances to the normal or regular function of the thyroid gland. The thyroid gland is one of the body’s endocrine glands (ductless glands that secrete hormones). It is a U or H- shaped gland situated in the neck, above the clavicles, below the jaw and anterior to the windpipe (trachea).

The thyroid gland secretes hormone known as thyroxine.  The amount of thyroxine in the blood affects almost every human body function.


A few examples are the regular heartbeat, blood pressure, fertility, digestion, regulation of body temperature, temperament and mood, among others.

The thyroid gland’s secretion is largely controlled by the hypothalamus in the brain (popularly known as the master gland) by a series of feedback mechanisms.

At times, these feedback mechanisms become over or under compensated for one reason or the other, thereby causing hyper or hypothyroidism, as the case may be. In goitre, hyperthyroidism is caused by excessive production of thyroid hormone, as a result of iodine deficiency from iodine poor diets.
Different kinds of thyroid disorders

Thyroid disorders could either affect the structure or function of the thyroid gland. The following are thyroid gland disorders:

Hyperthyroidism: Excessive secretion of thyroid hormone in the blood stream.
Hypothyroidism: Reduced secretion of thyroid hormones in the blood stream.

Goitre: A thyroid gland enlargement seen as a neck swelling, usually as a result of iodine deficiency (in 90 percent of cases) or an inflammation of the goitre. Not all goitre is symptomatic.

Thyroid storm: A life-threatening health condition that is associated with untreated or poorly treated hyperthyroidism.

Thyroid cancer: cancer of the thyroid gland.

Graves’ disease: An autoimmune disease (a situation when the body’s immunity fights against itself), common in women under the age of 40.


Symptoms of the thyroid gland disorders
Hyperthyroidism signs and symptoms are abnormal protrusion of the eyes (exolphthalmus), reduced tolerance to heat, hyperdefication, hypertension, increased activity, excessive sweating, excessive eating, mood swings, aggression, difficulty in sleeping, irregular menses, abnormal cardiac rhythms and palpitations, among others.

In hypothyroidism, the signs and symptoms are reduced tolerance to cold, constipation, reduced activity, reduced libido, irregular menses, reduced cardiac activity and gross lack of drive, among others.

The signs and symptoms of goitre are neck swelling, exolphtalmus, reduced tolerance to heat, hypertension, irregular menses, irregular heartbeats, similar to hyperthyroidism.

Signs and symptoms of thyroid storm are devastatingly high blood pressure, exaggerated hyperthyroidism symptoms.

Thyroid cancer signs and symptoms are neck swelling, chronic weight loss, and just like every other cancer, it spreads to other parts of the body.

Thyroid disorders are diagnosed when the above-mentioned symptoms are reported to the doctor, necessitating the arousal of your doctor’s suspicion of the disease, and by confirmation from an examination of your thyroid gland and from the following test results, namely, thyroid function test, neck ultrasound, CT Scan of the neck and or an MRI of the neck.


Treatment options
It could be medical or surgical, depending on the particular disorder. Your endocrinologist would decide the best treatment option. Note that surgeries are usually indicated, when there is a neck swelling. A goitre would be a combination of surgical removal of the inflamed goitre and iodine supplemented diets.

Take note that poorly treated hyperthyroidism would lead to a life threatening condition known as thyroid storm. So, don’t indulge in so-called home remedies.

Lifestyle changes to avoid thyroid disorders
Goitre can be avoided on a large scale by using iodinised salts only to cook. Report the above-mentioned symptoms, the moment you notice them. Do not seek homemade remedies, as they don’t exist.

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