Situated in our neck is a butterfly-shaped gland known as the thyroid. This important gland is responsible for the production of new proteins and plays a central role in controlling our metabolism. As part of the endocrine system, it is involved with the regulation of almost every organ in our body. Among the many things, it is responsible for is the regulation of cholesterol, our nervous system, calcium levels, our heart, and even the menstrual cycle. This represents just a fraction of the essential tasks our thyroid performs.
Common Conditions Associated With A Poorly Functioning Thyroid Gland
There are two common conditions associated with the thyroid, both of which involve irregularities in its activity levels. These conditions can come on as the result of certain medical conditions, age, or genetics. By understanding the symptoms associated with these conditions, treatments can be devised that can correct them. These two conditions are:
- Hyperthyroidism: When our thyroid is overactive, a condition known as hyperthyroidism, it is producing too much thyroxine. This hormone can lead to an unhealthily boosted metabolism, irregular heartbeat, and uncontrolled weight loss. Dry eyes, fatigue, insomnia, anxiety, and a sensitivity to heat all point to an overactive thyroid.
- Hypothyroidism: In patients with this condition, the thyroid is underperforming, which commonly occurs in patients over 60 years of age. It often manifests as a sensitivity to heat and cold, the appearance of depression and anxiety, weight loss, and slowed speech and movements. Loss of appetite and memory impairment is not uncommon. This condition is frequently under-diagnosed.
The most common methods of diagnosing these conditions are blood tests. By identifying the amount of thyroid hormones in the blood, any irregularities in the functioning of the thyroid can be identified. In some cases, imaging or physical examinations will be done to identify other possible conditions, such as thyroid cancer.
Treatments For These Conditions
Thankfully treatments are available for both of these conditions, with methodology changing based on the severity of the disease. Given the important role that the thyroid plays in our whole body health, correcting irregularities with this gland is essential to lasting good health. Below are the treatment options available for hyper and hypothyroidism:
- Hyperthyroidism: There are a variety of treatment options for those living with hyperthyroidism. Which ones are used are a factor of the age of the patient, the severity of the condition, and the underlying cause. In more troubling cases, surgery may be considered to help regulate the disease.
- Hypothyroidism: Once hyperthyroidism has been diagnosed with confidence, the patient will be prescribed a synthetic thyroid hormone. This can help reverse the effects of hyperthyroidism in most cases.
If you have any further concerns or questions about these conditions or think that you may be experiencing symptoms related to them, contact your physician. Identification of the condition is the first step on the road to getting the treatment you need for full management or recovery. Treating problems with the thyroid can restore an immense degree of quality of life to patients suffering from it, regardless of age.