WHAT IS THE THYROID GLAND?
The thyroid gland (Glandula thyreoidea) is, like all glands, a small organ with great powers, which affects the complete metabolism of our body.
It is interesting that this thyroid organ (that is why it is called the thyroid gland) is the largest organ that functions exclusively as an endocrine gland. People often call it the thyroid gland (which is incorrect from a professional point of view, but almost everyone will understand which gland it is about).
This is an endocrine-secreting gland, which means that it releases its products directly into the blood, as it does not have its own drainage channels. It is located in the neck area and secretes the hormones thyroxine (T4) and thyronine (T3), which have an impact on the metabolism of all other tissues.
The thyroid gland also secretes calcitonin with the help of its C cells. Calcitonin is important for regulating the concentration of calcium in the blood, and it also acts antagonistically to parathormone (parathyroid hormone).
Thyroid hormones T3 and T4 are responsible for regulating metabolism and iodine is necessary for their production. It is the lack of iodine that leads to their reduced production, which further affects the increase in tissue, which leads to a disease popularly known as goiter.
Iodine is taken in with food from the outside environment and the weekly need for iodine is about 1 mg. There are regions where the concentration of iodine in the soil is low so table salt is additionally iodized and it is interesting that goiter is the most common disease precisely in these regions.
The pituitary hormone TSH (thyrostimulating hormone) is very important for the functioning of the thyroid gland, i.e. for the metabolism of its hormones T3 and T4. When you do the analysis, this is the reason why the level of this hormone is also controlled.
THYROID GLAND SYMPTOMS
According to some estimates, more than two billion people in the world suffer from some form of thyroid disorder, and some indicators indicate that up to 70 percent of the total population is affected.
It is interesting that today every second woman has one of the diseases of the thyroid gland and the disease does not choose age. Both older and younger women are affected but also girls, although the majority of female patients are between the ages of 20 and 40.
Experts explain this more pronounced occurrence of the disease in women by the fact that men are less likely to control their health. The fact that thyroid gland diseases are so common is linked to the radiation to which we are exposed today more than ever.
If it is a known fact that the number of people who have a problem with some disorder of the function or structure of the thyroid gland is greater than the number of those who have a problem with heart disease or asthma, it is hard to believe that it is possible that such a mass illness of people can go almost unnoticed.
Often, however, thyroid disorders remain undiagnosed in many patients, because it is necessary to look at the problem from a broader perspective to suspect the thyroid gland, regardless of the abundance of individual symptoms. That is why it is extremely important to visit your doctor if you yourself recognize a set of symptoms that indicate a problem with the thyroid gland and of course direct the doctor’s attention to the possibility that something is wrong with this gland.
Although our body warns us in many ways that something is wrong with our health and the symptoms of some form of thyroid disease can be quite visible and obvious to experts, people and often even doctors, attribute the symptoms of thyroid disease to some other diseases.
The most important thing is to listen to your body. So if you feel tired, if your weight fluctuates – you have suddenly gained or lost weight, you have trouble sleeping, you are irritable, you feel swollen, you have the feeling that you have a lump in your throat, you cough persistently, your menstrual cycle is disturbed – you should ask your doctor of choice for a thyroid checkup.
It is not uncommon for thyroid symptoms to be attributed to other diseases, most often heart diseases. This happens because due to the reduced function of the thyroid gland, there is a slow heart rate or bradycardia, but also an increased heart rate – tachycardia. It also happens that patients are treated for years with a diagnosis of heart disease without the problem of the thyroid gland being noticed.
Thyroid symptoms can be classified according to the type of thyroid disease:
Hyperthyroidism (increased function of the thyroid gland, which means increased secretion of thyroid hormones) – nervousness, irritability, tremors, excessive sweating, rapid heart rate, hair loss, sensitivity to heat, weight loss, more frequent bowel movements and, in women, an irregular menstrual cycle. All these symptoms are also possible with goiter.
Hypothyroidism (reduced function of the thyroid gland, which means reduced secretion of thyroid hormones) – slowing down of all body functions, almost complete metabolism, which leads to weight gain. Hypothyroidism is directly followed by depression, slower resolution of thought processes, coldness, muscle weakness, irregular muscle menstrual cycles.
Symptoms of hypothyroidism include slowing of bodily functions, mental activity, depression, chills, constipation, muscle weakness, abnormal menstrual cycles, and slowing of metabolism, leading to moderate weight gain.
Some patients also have goiter. However, many patients with hypothyroidism have no symptoms, so blood testing is extremely important. Some symptoms of problems with the thyroid gland can be recognized by the patient himself. Most often, these are sudden weight gain or weight loss, great fatigue, irritability, insomnia, swelling and feeling of a lump in the throat.
Also, in women, one of the indicators of reduced function of the thyroid gland is a disorder of the menstrual cycle.
Goiter and growths or nodes as they are also called
Most growths are painless and only noticeable by doctors during an ultrasound examination or during palpation of the patient’s neck. Some larger nodes can be seen during some regular hygiene-aesthetic actions in both men and women.
Most nodules in the thyroid gland are painless but if you feel any kind of pain, it is important to contact your doctor as soon as possible so that the suspicion of the most serious disease of the thyroid gland can be eliminated as soon as possible. Before they cause problems with breathing or swallowing or changes in the voice.
Cancer of this gland often does not give any visible symptoms and patients find out about this condition of the body after an ultrasound of the thyroid gland or after an MRI. Pain in the neck area in the place where the thyroid gland is located from the front, occurs very rarely as a symptom, which also applies to hoarseness and difficulty swallowing.
Statistics show that thyroid cancer is more common in women than in men.
The good thing is that most types of cancer can be completely removed by surgery and the death rate from this type of cancer is quite low.
For most thyroid diseases, there are effective treatments, from drugs to surgeries and what stands between us and our normal functioning, despite the disorders that occur on the thyroid gland, is only the diagnosis of the problem, which can significantly affect the quality of our life for years.
It is also important to know that hypothyroidism is often mistaken for a depressive disorder, while hyperthyroidism or its symptoms are often attributed to anxiety and aggressive behavior.
THYROID GLAND PAIN
Although this is one of the few symptoms, pain in the thyroid gland can certainly occur, which can indicate various disorders in the functioning of the thyroid gland.
That pain can also be intermittent piercings in the thyroid gland on the front of the neck. The pain may be more intense when swallowing and also when palpating (touching) the neck in the area of the thyroid gland, the patient may show sensitivity.
This is a rare symptom, but it should not be taken lightly and it should certainly not be ignored, but it is necessary to consult a doctor as soon as possible in order to determine the cause of thyroid pain and above all to rule out any cancer of this gland is suspected.
If pain at rest causes discomfort for a long time and nothing is done about it (no treatment method is applied), this can eventually cause a series of serious complications of the patient’s health.
Pain with obvious sensitivity to touch is often accompanied by swellings on the thyroid gland, which are very obvious. Also a hoarse voice and sore throat may accompany pain in the gland, which is aggravated by touching or swallowing. Pain can be the first and most prominent symptom that prompts us to diagnose thyroid cancer. That’s why it’s important to take thyroid swelling or pain extremely seriously. Sometimes, pain in the thyroid gland is not necessarily a reflection of the condition and severity of a particular disorder and it may not always be accompanied by thyroid swelling.
The cause of the pain may remain unknown in some cases, especially since the pain associated with the thyroid gland is usually specific for each patient and depending on the tolerance threshold, each patient will experience this symptom differently.
Our pain, even if it occurred occasionally and was of lower intensity, indicates caution, even when there is a state of increased or decreased activity of the thyroid gland, because swelling of the thyroid gland with pain can be the first sign of a permanent condition.
Thyroid gland and choking
Suffocation in thyroid disorders occurs in situations where the swelling of the thyroid gland, or the enlargement of individual nodes on the thyroid gland exert physical pressure on the trachea, causing the patient to feel that he cannot inhale air to his full lungs.
This condition most often requires surgical intervention in the event that the patient, despite therapy, does not feel an improvement in his general condition and has a problem with suffocation.
Thyroid gland and cough
If you have been suffering from frequent dry coughing for a long period of time, and you have done all the standard tests and the doctors have not found a cause for your problem and therefore no adequate medicine, it is important to check the functioning of the thyroid gland because coughing is one of the frequent symptoms of problems with this gland, especially if it is accompanied by symptoms of tightness, suffocation and pain in the throat.
THYROID GLAND IN PREGNANCY
Modern methods of treating disorders of the thyroid gland, the choice of drugs and the possibility of diagnosing and monitoring the condition of patients, allow women who have a problem with the thyroid gland to plan their offspring with adequate therapy and regulation of the functioning of the thyroid gland and enjoy the days of pregnancy without fear.
It is quite possible for a woman to have a normal pregnancy and give birth to a healthy child even if she has been diagnosed with one of the thyroid gland disorders. Here we clearly see the special importance of diagnosing thyroid problems in a timely manner because this is the only way to keep them under control.
According to the experts, appropriate treatment leads to significant clinical successes during pregnancy which result in an orderly pregnancy and the birth of a healthy child.
Thyroid gland disease is the second most common endocrine disorder that affects women of reproductive age and if not treated during pregnancy, this problem is associated with an increased risk of miscarriage, premature placental abruption and abundant postpartum bleeding, inadequate growth and development of the fetus, increased blood pressure during pregnancy.
Hyperthyroidism in pregnancy
Hyperthyroidism in pregnancy (increased function of the thyroid gland) can occur during and after pregnancy and even in women who have never had problems with the thyroid gland. This is primarily due to major changes in the level of hormones produced by the thyroid gland as well as hormones that have an effect on it.
HCG (human chorionic gonadotropin), the so-called the pregnancy hormone has a mild effect on stimulating the thyroid hormone so in the period around the 12th week, symptoms of hyperthyroidism may appear.
Although it occurs in as many as 10-20% of pregnant women, hyperthyroidism during this period of pregnancy generally does not require any treatment. Symptoms may be more pronounced in women who carry twins or have multiple pregnancies, because their HCG level is even higher.
THYROID GLAND TREATMENT
After an accurate diagnosis, treatments and treatment with certain drugs follow and often an operative method is proposed as a solution. When a diagnosis of reduced thyroid gland function is made, treatment consists of hormone tablets which leads to noticeable improvement within a few weeks.
Therapy most often after a certain period and in the long run leads to an increase in the level of energy that the patient feels, the level of cholesterol is lowered and also the body weight is gradually regulated.
People who have a problem with reduced thyroid function usually have to take hormones for the rest of their lives. In the case of increased thyroid gland function, an antithyroid drug is most often used, which should reduce the amount of hormones produced by the thyroid gland.
Therapies often have to be taken even after the problem is gone and other drugs are also used to reduce symptoms such as rapid heart rate and tremors.
Hyperthyroidism can also be treated with radioactive iodine which destroys the thyroid gland within 6 to 18 weeks. After that the patient takes thyroid hormones in pill form.
Removal of the thyroid gland can cure hyperthyroidism but this procedure is only recommended if antithyroid drugs do not work.
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