Your body is full of cells, tissues, liquids and elements, which produce hormones and other chemicals to regulate different processes.
One of the most important hormone-produced organs is known as thyroid gland. This little thing is located in the front of your neck, below the Adam’s apple. It creates thyroid hormones (thyroxine and triiodothyronine) to control the way you use calories, body temperature, heart rate, fertility and mental performance.
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Your brain keeps under the control thyroid functioning. It secretes thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH), when your body needs more of thyroid hormones. When there is enough thyroxine and triiodothyronine circulating in the blood, the brain decreases releasing of TSH.
If problems occur anywhere in the gland or in the brain, generation of thyroid hormones may become insufficient (hypothyroidism) or excessive (hyperthyroidism).
Statistics shows that women are much more likely to develop thyroid issues than men do.
If your body lacks in thyroid hormones, you may experience depression, unintentional weight gain, prolonged menstruation, drowsiness, brain fog and constipation.
Hyperthyroidism speeds up all processes in person's body, making him or her to feel restless, irritable and agitated. Hyperthyroid people often complain of sleeplessness, heart palpitations, increased appetite and interrupted menstrual cycle.
In most cases, thyroid disorders happen because of autoimmune processes, when immune system fails to work properly and begins to produce abnormal antibodies.
In hypothyroidism, these antibodies kill person's own thyroid cells, reducing amount of hormones. This condition is known as Hashimoto's thyroiditis. Surgical excision of the gland and taking certain medications like amiodarone and lithium, may contribute to hypothyroidism too.
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Sometimes immune system may start to create antibodies, which stimulate thyroid gland to release more hormones. Medical specialists call this issue Grave's disease.
Another problem is that nodules may be formed within thyroid gland. They often secrete high amounts of hormones without any control.
The reason may be also inside your head. If tumor develops in the pituitary gland (area that controls the thyroid gland), it may create too much thyroid stimulating hormone, making the gland in the neck overactive.
Cancer may also grow in the thyroid tissue, causing high number of problems.
Any of thyroid disorders should be treated under the supervision of healthcare professional.
If your thyroid gland isn't able to produce enough hormones, your doctor may prescribe you synthetic analogue called levothyroxine. Treatment usually lasts during the whole life.
In hyperthyroidism there are several ways to cope with the problem.
In some cases, low levels of radioactive iodine can be used to destroy too active parts of thyroid gland. But this method shouldn't be used for pregnant women, as it can ruin thyroid gland of the baby.
Another good option is anti-thyroid medicines (propylthiouracil and methimazole), which commonly normalize thyroid function within one to three months, decreasing production of the hormones.
If medications and radioactive iodine appear ineffective, or if new nodules in the gland were found to be cancerous, surgery may be the only way to get rid of hyperthyroidism.
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Risks of the surgical removal include damage of the parathyroid glands, bleeding and damage of the vocal cords.
If too large part of the gland is removed, hypothyroidism may occur after the procedure.
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