According to the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists (AACE), over 27 million Americans suffer from an overactive or underactive thyroid disorder, yet nearly half are undiagnosed.
Having your thyroid function tested at least once every 5 years can help you diagnosis and manage many of the symptoms and disorders associated with a thyroid problem.
A goiter, or enlarged thyroid gland, appears on the front of the neck in response to a lack of iodine in the diet. Typically the appearance of the goiter itself is the most noticeable symptom since there will rarely be discomfort unless the goiter becomes large enough to cause coughing or difficulty swallowing.
Treatment: Usually there is no need for treatment unless the gland becomes very large.
Typically the thyroid produces the right balance of T3 and T4, the hormones secreted by the thyroid gland. When the thyroid begins making too many hormones, it is known as hyperthyroidism. Typically people affected by this condition report feeling very warm when no one else is affected and also losing weight steadily, even when food and calorie intake is increased. Other conditions that fall under the term of hyperthyroidism include Grave’s Disease, pituitary gland disorders and adenomas.
Treatment: Treatment varies depending on the form of hyperthyroidism you are experiencing. There are many types of anti-thyroid medications that are typically used, along with radioactive iodine in people who are over 50 and are experiencing Grave’s disease.
Lack of sufficient thyroid hormone production is known as hypothyroidism. Those most at risk for this condition are women over the age of 50. It is very difficult to see the onset of this condition without a test as it will typically display no real symptoms. If left undiagnosed or treated, hypothyroidism can cause heart disease, obesity and infertility, in addition to many other various conditions. This can cause major problems in newborn and infant mental and psychical development if left untreated.
Treatment: Synthetic hormones are typically used to correct the imbalance.
Thyroiditis refers to the inflammation of the thyroid gland. There are many different types of thyroiditis, below are three types of this condition.
Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis: This is the most common type of autoimmune thyroiditis. This occurs when the thyroid is not able to adequately convert iodine into hormones resulting in a enlarged gland. This swelling may be felt in one side of the gland
Treatment: Hormone replacement
De Quervain’s Thyroiditis: Pain or tenderness of the thyroid gland is typically associated with this type of thyroid gland swelling. Many patients begin experiencing hyperthyroidism and then transitions into hypothyroidism. It is believed by some doctors to be a response to a post viral infection in people who are genetically predisposed to thyroid conditions.
Treatment: Management for the discomfort is often prescribed in the form of an anti-inflammatory and depending on the severity, various beta-blockade drugs may be used for management.
Silent Thyroiditis: This is the most uncommon of the three main forms of thyroiditis. Typically it shows a mix of signs from both of the other types of the condition but the thyroid is only slightly inflamed. The condition develops most frequently in women after pregnancy.
Treatment: In most cases treatment is not necessary though bed rest may be recommended for some.
Thyroid nodules are fairly common and in many cases, they are benign (non cancerous). According to endocrineweb.com, more than 95% of all nodules are not cancerous and the chance of developing them increases with age.
Treatment: Nodules are often biopsied to make sure they are not associated with cancer.
According to the Thyroid Cancer Survivors’ Association, this is the most common type of endocrine cancer and is one of the only cancers to increase in frequency in the population over the years. Papillary and follicular thyroid carcinomas are two of the most common types accounting for 80 – 90% of all thyroid cancers.
Treatment: Treatment for thyroid cancer may involve radiation, surgery, radioactive iodine treatment and hormone replacement therapy for patients who have undergone surgery.