An estimated 20 million Americans have some form of thyroid disease. Up to 60 percent of those are unaware of their condition. If thyroid disease is left undiagnosed, patients could be at a risk for certain serious conditions, such as cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, and infertility.
What does your thyroid do?
Your thyroid gland is a vital hormone gland: It plays a major role in the metabolism, growth, and development of the human body. It helps to regulate many body functions by constantly releasing a steady amount of thyroid hormones (T3 and T4) into the bloodstream.
Your thyroid is found in the middle of your lower neck. The hormones it produces affect every cell in the body. They help control your body temperature and heart rate and help regulate the production of protein. If your thyroid produces too much or too little T3 and T4, it can create conditions for hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism.
Hyperthyroidism – your thyroid is working overtime
Hyperthyroidism happens when your thyroid produces too much T-4. You could have irritability, nervousness, shaking, muscle weakness, sudden weight loss, and sleeping problems. This is a lifelong, but treatable, condition. It is diagnosed through a physical exam, blood test and other tests if appropriate. Treatment could include medication and radioactive iodine to slow hormone production. In rare cases, surgery may be required.
Hypothyroidism – your thyroid isn’t doing its job
Hypothyroidism is when your thyroid won’t produce enough T-3 and T-4 hormones. You could notice the symptoms of extreme fatigue, depression, forgetfulness, and weight gain. This is diagnosed through a physical exam and a blood test to check TSH levels.
Treatment can involve a daily synthetic thyroid hormone levothyroxine to regulate your hormone levels. Yearly doctor visits are required to modify dosage if needed.
Thyroid Cancer – it can be an inherited condition
Thyroid cancer happens when thyroid cells grow and multiply rapidly. A tumor is formed and the abnormal cells can spread throughout the body.
The exact cause of thyroid cancer is unknown but it can be linked to inherited conditions. As the cells grow, they can cause a lump in the neck or swollen lymph glands, voice changes, pain, and difficulty swallowing.
Most cases of thyroid cancer can be cured with surgery to remove most or all of the thyroid. That will be followed by a lifelong treatment of levothyroxine.
Good News…Not so Great News
The good news is that thyroid conditions are treatable. The not so great news: thyroid conditions can be physically and mentally challenging.
Symptoms range from mild to severe.
Hypothyroidism treatments can mean more doctor visits to regulate the medication. Thyroid cancer can mean a recovery time and possibly chemotherapy.
We can help
We’re here to help patients cope with illness and recovery. Our skilled nurses can assist with wound care after surgery, changing your dressing, and making sure the wound stays clear of infection. Your neck will be swollen and you will need to modify your diet. It is important that you eat a nutritious diet to help with healing. our dietician can help.
For Further Reference:
American Thyroid Association Guidelines for Diagnosis and Management of Hyperthyroidism and other causes of Thyrotoxicosis
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